Drug Crimes

Texas laws surrounding the use, manufacture, and distribution of illegal drugs are some of the harshest in the nation. Texas drug crimes are often the focus of media spotlights, political campaigns, and community initiatives. Drug use is common throughout multiple demographic sectors, and recent national crises have reinvigorated the focus on drugs in Texas communities.

While many drug crimes are also offenses at the federal level, Texas has legislated specific policies and procedures to address and prosecute drug crimes at the state and local levels. Some common drug crimes include:

  • Drug cultivation
  • Drug manufacturing
  • Drug trafficking
  • Internet drug sales
  • Intent to sell
  • Drug possession
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

While drug policies are often subject to political reforms and new initiatives, there are some common categories of drug crimes that constitute the bulk of Texas offenses.

Drug Possession Overview

Drug possession is one of the broadest and most frequently encountered drug crime categories. The Texas Controlled Substances Act details multiple types of drugs, medications, synthetics, and drug analogues that individuals are prohibited from possessing. The act differentiates between 5 main groups, with penalties, drug classifications, and procedures varying based on group type. These groups are:

  • Group 1
  • Group 1-A
  • Group 2
  • Group 3
  • Group 4

Group 1 Possession Crimes

Group 1 consists of…

  • Possession of less than 1 gram is a state jail felony, punishable by between 180 days and 2 years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 1 and 4 grams is a 3rd degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 4 and 200 grams is a 2nd degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 200 and 400 grams is a 1st degree felony, punishable by between 5 to 99 years in prison, or life in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Possession of more than 400 grams is punishable by life in prison, or 10 to 99 years in prison, with fines of up to $100,000.

Group 1-A Possession Crimes

Group 1-A consists of drugs such as LSD, as well as its derivatives and analogues. It’s important to note that even if a substance is not technically LSD, courts have in the past found drugs that share similarities with LSD on a chemical or psychological level may also fit into this group. This group is also unique because the severity and classifications of possession charges depend on the number of units of the drug, not the weight.

  • Possession of less than 20 units is a state jail felony, punishable by between 180 days to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 20 and 80 units is a 3rd degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 80 and 4,000 units is a 2nd degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 4,000 and 8,000 units is a 1st degree felony, punishable by between 5 to 99 years in prison, or life in prison, and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Possession of more than 8,000 units is punishable by 15 to 99 years in prison, or life in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.

Group 2 Possession Crimes

Group 2 consists of Hallucinogenic substances such as DMT, synthetic THC, MDMA, psilocybin (found in ‘magic mushrooms’), and mescaline. This group also includes depressants and stimulants that are not specifically listed in other groups, including prescription drugs such as Vyvanse and Quaaludes.

  • Possession of less than 1 gram is a state jail felony, punishable by between 180 days and 2 years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 1 and 4 grams is a 2nd degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 4 and 400 grams is a 1st degree felony, punishable by between 5 to 99 years in prison, or life in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Possession of more than 400 grams is punishable by life in prison, or 10 to 99 years in prison, with fines of up to $100,000.

Group 3 Possession Crimes

Group 3 consists of common drugs and compounds containing stimulants such as Ritalin, depressants such as Xanax, limited quantities of narcotics such as codeine or morphine, and miscellaneous compounds containing substances like steroids, stimulants, and barbiturates.

  • Possession of less than 28 grams is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or fines of up to $4,000.
  • Possession of between 28 and 200 grams is a 3rd degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 200 to 400 grams is a second-degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of more than 400 grams is a 1st degree felony, punishable by life in prison, or between 5 to 99 years in prison, and fines of up to $50,000.

Group 4 Possession Crimes

Group 4 consists of primarily compounds, meaning mixtures and combinations of different drugs and/or non-drugs. Compounds that contain limited quantities of narcotics that contain nonnarcotic active ingredients, such as codeine, morphine, or difenoxin prescription drugs, fall into this category. Additionally, compounds that contain certain drugs such as Buprenorphine, Butorphanol, or pyrovalerone are considered group 4 drugs as well.

  • Possession of less than 28 grams is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or fines of up to $2,000.
  • Possession of between 28 and 200 grams is a 3rd degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of between 200 to 400 grams is a second-degree felony, punishable by between 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • Possession of more than 400 grams is a 1st degree felony, punishable by life in prison, or between 5 to 99 years in prison, and fines of up to $50,000.

While drug possession typically is the most common type of offense, there are other serious charges relating to these 5 types of drugs. Oftentimes, these charges are given in addition to a drug possession charge.

Other Common Drug Crimes by Substance

Marijuana

  • Cultivation of marijuana
    • Growing marijuana plants in Texas is a punishable offense. Penalties can range from mild to extremely severe depending on the weight of the marijuana.
  • Trafficking, delivery, transfer, or sales of marijuana
    • Selling or transporting marijuana is a punishable offense, with penalties ranging from 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, in the case of selling less than 7 grams, to a felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000, in the case of selling more than 5 pounds of marijuana.

Cocaine

  • Delivery of cocaine
    • The delivery of cocaine is always a felony, regardless of the amount in question. Penalties can be extremely severe for these charges.
    • On the low end, delivery of under 1 gram is a state jail felony punishable by up to 2 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. In more serious cases, such as delivery of over 400 grams, punishments can be as severe as up to 99 years in prison, or life in prison, and tremendous fines of up to $250,000.
  • Manufacturing cocaine
    • Manufacturing cocaine is also given intense scrutiny, and the penalties reflect this fact. Depending on the amount of cocaine manufactured, penalties may range from fines of under $10,000 and jail time of between 180 days to 2 years, to fines as steep as $250,000 with prison times of up to 99 years or life.

Methamphetamine

  • Manufacturing or distributing meth
    • The manufacturing or distribution of methamphetamines is always a felony, with more severe penalties given to higher amounts. Charges involving less than 1 gram are punishable by up to 2 years in jail, while charges of more than 200 grams may result in life sentences. Additionally, fines can be as high as $250,000 in cases of more than 400 grams.
  • Possessing meth paraphernalia for personal use
    • Paraphernalia that is associated with the use of meth and found to be for the personal use of the offender, are charges as misdemeanors, punishable by fines of up to $500.

There are many factors that can affect your case.

It is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney about the circumstances of your specific case. If you are being charged with a drug possession, manufacturing, or distribution charge, you should know that the presence or absence of certain factors may result in your charge being reduced to a lesser charge or enhanced to a more severe charge, even after the initial charge is made. For example, the manufacture, use, or possession of illegal drugs in the presence of a child can significantly enhance charges. In most possession cases, a presence of child enhancement charge will trigger a 15-or 20-year minimum prison sentence. For manufacturing or use offenses, the presence of a child will increase the severity of the felony charge by 1 degree.

Additionally, many jurisdictions differ in their enforcement and prosecution practices. While courts and cities do pay special attention to drug crimes, there have also been pushes for decriminalization of certain recreational drugs such as marijuana. As a result, some cities and counties will not make arrests for amount below a certain threshold. Additionally, more courts and counties are recognizing the reality of drug addiction and mental health issues. Most counties will offer some forms of alternatives to traditional charges and sentencing that may involve rehabilitation, mental health court, or deferred adjudication contingent on completion of treatment programs.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to thoroughly examine your case, any prior convictions, and the arguments and evidence presented by the state, in order to holistically mount a strategic defense and/or reach favorable outcomes.

If you are being charged with a drug crime in Texas, do not wait to contact a criminal defense attorney!

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