The state of Texas does not take drug offenses lightly and imposes the harshest possible penalties on drug offenders. Despite the recent changes in marijuana laws, you can still get in a lot of trouble if you are found manufacturing or in possession of controlled substances, including marijuana.
These penalties will adversely affect every aspect of your life. Apart from serving jail time and paying hefty fines, there are a lot of hidden consequences of accepting guilt for a drug crime, eg. suspension of your driver’s license.
Therefore, it becomes very important that you reach out to an experienced drug possession attorney to understand your options and find the best possible way out. If you or your loved one has been charged with a drug offense in Austin, Texas, reach out to drug offense attorney, James Gill today. He can help you prepare the most convincing defense and get you out with minimum damage.
Why You Need the Best Drug Possession Attorney in Austin On Your Side
The burden of proof for your conviction in a drug crime lies on the prosecution. They have to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you were knowingly and intentionally in possession of the drugs in Austin, Texas. Having a drug defense attorney by your side during the proceedings can help you get the best deal from the prosecution as well as access to the loopholes that can get your crimes and punishments lowered.
An experienced drug crimes attorney like James Gill understands the facts and knows the best ways to win the case for you.
Drug Possession Charges in Texas
The penalty for possession of controlled substance in Austin, Texas largely depends on the type of drugs that were found in your possession. The Texas Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into penalty groups based on how harmful they can be.
- Penalty group 1 includes offenses like possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and opium.
- Penalty Group 1-A consists of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and its compounds.
- Penalty Group 1-B consists of fentanyl and its derivatives.
- Penalty group 2 includes drugs like Dronabinol, Ibogaine, and Mescaline.
- Penalty group 2-A is for possession, manufacture, or trafficking of drugs like Cyclohexylphenol, Cannabinol derivatives, and magic mushrooms in Austin, Texas.
- Penalty group 3 lists drugs like Methylphenidate and Phenmetrazine.
- Penalty group 4 is for prescription drug charges for drugs like codeine, dihydrocodeine, and difenoxin.
Your punishment will also depend on the possession of drug paraphernalia if your intention was to use it to manufacture, store or conceal drugs.
What Determines a Drug Possession Conviction
Other than the penalty groups, several factors affect your conviction and penalty for a drug offense in Austin. Here’s a list of the most important ones.
- The type of drug in possession: The type of drug found in your possession plays a large role in determining your conviction. As stated above, the Texas Controlled Substance Act has classified drugs into several penalty groups to make sentencing easier. Possession of drugs listed in penalty groups 1 through 2 generally leads to felony charges even for small amounts of drugs, whereas possession of drugs in the penalty groups 3 and 4 will only get you misdemeanor charges for small amounts.
- The amount of drugs in your possession: The next thing that determines the penalty is the amount of drugs seized. As you can guess, the higher the quantity of drugs, the higher the punishment will be. So, less than 28 grams of a penalty group 3 drug will only result in a Class A misdemeanor, but possession of 200 grams of drugs will lead to a second-degree felony charge.
- Location of which the drugs were possessed: Section 481.134 of the Texas Health and Safety Code lists down the places that are strictly drug-free zones in Austin, Texas. If you are found in possession of drugs in these areas, your jail term will be bumped up by a level and your fine may be doubled. Drug-free zones include areas within 1000 feet of school properties or playgrounds and areas within 300 feet of public swimming pools and video arcade facilities.
- The purpose for which the drug is typically used: The reason why you were carrying drugs can save you from some of the trouble related to a drug charge. If the drugs found in your possession were necessary for an underlying medical condition and a licensed medical professional can attest to that, you might get your penalties lowered or removed altogether.
- Previous charges and criminal history: Unless you were found with high quantities of drugs, there is a good chance that you will get off with just probation or community service, along with some mandatory drug treatment programs. But if this is not your first time offense and you have previous convictions or if you had violated probation in the past, the judge won’t be obligated to let you walk away with just probation.
So, criminal history plays an important role in determining your penalty in Austin. If you have a criminal history, you should see if you can get it expunged from your record.
Texas State vs Federal Drug Charges
While Texas laws provide a detailed procedure for drug charges, possessing or trafficking drugs is also a crime under federal law. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration classifies controlled substances into five schedules which are somewhat similar to the penalty groups under the Texas law.
This classification is made on the basis of the potential for abuse and the acceptable medical purpose of the drugs. Drugs under Schedule I have no medicinal purpose and are highly addictive, whereas drugs in Schedule II have some acceptable medicinal usage. Schedules III through V have many acceptable medical purposes and are less addictive than the other two.
There might be circumstances where both, Federal laws and local laws, overlap. While the state courts largely have authority over drug cases within the state, there are a few circumstances where the federal court might intervene. These include:
- If the arrest is made by the federal government authority.
- If the state and federal government authorities agree that the case needs to be dealt with by the federal court for any reason, eg. if the case is related to an ongoing federal government investigation.
- If the arrest is made on federal government property.
- If you crossed state limits during the commission of the crime.
Unlike Texas state law, the judges have very little discretion over sentencing in federal drug cases. They have to strictly follow the predetermined table of punishment. That is precisely why over 85% of people currently incarcerated in federal prisons are there for nonviolent drug offenses.
Drug Possession Penalties in Austin, Texas
If you are charged with a drug crime in Austin, Texas, you may end up serving jail time and paying fines depending upon various factors, like what type of drug was found in your possession, what was the quantity, where were you found, what was its purpose and your previous criminal record. Let’s take a look at the maximum and minimum penalties you may end up with for committing drug offenses in Texas.
Class A & B Misdemeanors:
If you have been found with low quantities of a drug listed under the penalty group 2-A, 3, or 4 in Austin, Texas, you may be charged with either of the two out of three types of misdemeanors, class A or class B misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor can lead to a sentence of up to a year in jail, and a fine of up to $4,000. A class B misdemeanor results in a maximum of 180 days of jail time and up to a $2000 fine.
If you were involved in manufacturing high quantities of drugs or found in possession of any drug belonging to the penalty groups 1, 1-A, and 1-B, you can be charged with a first degree felony. A first degree felony offense charge results in jail time of 5 years to 99 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are found possessing or manufacturing drugs in higher quantities of any drug (less than what results in a first degree felony charge), you will be charged with a second degree felony. With a second degree felony offense, you may have to do between 2 and 20 years behind bars and pay up to $10,000 in fines.
If you are caught manufacturing or possessing any type of drug in large quantities (lower than what constitutes first degree or second degree offense), you will be charged with a third degree felony. A third degree charge can lead to imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and cost you fines of up to $10,000.
State Jail Felonies:
If you are involved in manufacturing any type of drug or possessing lower quantities of drugs in the penalty groups 1 through 2, you may be charged with a state jail felony charge. A state jail felony can result in 180 days to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 in Austin.
To facilitate rehabilitation and avoid a felony conviction record, there have been several recent changes in the laws to mandate probation instead of imprisonment for minor drug crimes. But if you violate probation, you will have to serve some serious jail time.
Don’t Leave Your Case Up to Chance – Hire Austin’s Drug Attorney James Gill
A drug charge can change the course of your life completely. Even after you have served the sentence and paid all the fines, you will see its effects your whole life. You will have a permanent criminal record which takes away a lot of your basic rights like owning firearms, voting, etc. It will also result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Basically, your life will never be the same.
Therefore, it is extremely important that you reach out to drug possession attorney James Gill as soon as you or your loved ones are charged with a drug offense in Austin. Pleading guilty can have huge repercussions on your life. So, don’t leave your case up to chance, and contact us today to book a consultation with the best lawyer for drug charges.