Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer
Drug offenses are among the most common arrests made in Texas. Texas and federal law prohibit the possession, manufacturing, and distribution of controlled substances and other illegal drugs. Hiring a qualified Houston drug crimes lawyer is essential to an effective defense if charged in Houston or surrounding areas.
What Drugs are Illegal in Texas?
In Texas, there are several forms of illegal drugs – scheduled controlled substances, non-scheduled drugs (e.g., marijuana), and prescription drugs that are not otherwise scheduled but are possessed without a prescription.
Possession or distribution of a controlled substances is illegal under Texas law. The penalties depend upon the penalty group of the drug and the amount of the controlled substance. Penalty groups are defined by Texas Law in the Health and Safety Code. Most Penalty Groups contain many drugs, some common, others obscure. The list below contains some of the more common drugs in each group.
- Penalty Group 1 includes “hard” drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin.
- Penalty Group 1-A includes only LSD and related compounds.
- Penalty Group 2 includes ecstasy and hallucinogenic mushrooms.
- Penalty Group 3 includes many common prescription pills that are controlled substances such as Xanax, Hydrocodone, and Valium.
- Penalty Group 4 includes codeine syrup.
Possession of any amount of a substance in Penalty Groups 1, 1-A, and 2 is a felony. Possession of a substance in Penalty Groups 3 and 4 may be a class A misdemeanor depending on the amount, but is a felony in larger quantities.
If a person is charged with possession with intent to distribute, the offense level is generally raised one degree (e.g., 3rd degree felony becomes a second degree felony).
Possession of any amount of marijuana under Texas law is a jailable offense. The potential penalty depends upon the amount of marijuana possessed. The penalties under Texas law for possession are as follows:
- < 2 ounces: class B misdemeanor
- > 2 ounces but < 4 ounces: class A misdemeanor
- > 4 ounces but < 5 pounds: state jail felony
- > 5 pounds but <= 50 pounds: 3rd degree felony
- > 50 pounds but <= 2,000 pounds: 2nd degree felony
- > 2,000 pounds: 1st degree felony
Delivery of marijuana carries more severe penalties
- Delivery of one-fourth ounce or less without remuneration: class B misdemeanor
- Delivery of one-fourth ounce or less with remuneration: class A misdemeanor
- Delivery of > one-fourth ounce and <=5 pounds: state jail felony
- Delivery of > 5 pounds ounce and <=50 pounds: second degree felony
- Delivery of > 50 pounds ounce and <=2,000 pounds: first degree felony
- Delivery of > 2,000 pounds: first degree felony with a ten-year minimum prison sentence.
“Dangerous drugs” are prescription drugs not otherwise in a penalty group that are possessed without a prescription. Common dangerous drugs include Soma and certain anti-depressants. Possession of a dangerous drug is a class A misdemeanor.
Federal Drug Charges
Most drugs that are illegal under Texas law are also illegal under federal law. Punishments for federal drug crimes are predicated on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (though these guidelines are only advisory). Determining the potential penalty for a federal drug crime is much more case-specific than under state law.
Defending a Drug Case
The successful defense of a drug case often depends on determining violations of the laws governing lawful search and seizure of evidence. Doing so may require looking behind what is in the police report and obtaining records and other evidence as a check on whether the arresting officer followed the law. David A. Nachtigall is an experienced Houston drug crimes lawyer, and has helped individuals identify violations of the 4th Amendment and Texas law that have led to the successful resolution and dismissal of numerous cases.