Drug offenses are treated seriously in Texas. These crimes carry a wide range of penalties, including fines and prison sentences. Penalties for narcotics crimes depend on the type of substance involved, the amount of the substance, and whether a person intended to sell the substance.
Drug cases often are complex. Being charged with a drug crime can feel overwhelming. You may not know the best step to take or where to search for help. A skilled and experienced San Antonio drug crime attorney can help you combat the charges and take control of your future.
Drug Defense Lawyer in San Antonio, TX
The best defense in drug crime cases often involves filing motions to suppress physical evidence. Another option is filing a motion to dismiss the charges for insufficient proof. Drug cases sometimes hinge on various other areas of the law, including search and seizure issues. A San Antonio criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges.
If you’re facing drug charges, call Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr. We handle everything from simple possession cases to the more serious charges of drug trafficking or racketeering. Our attorneys are recognized drug crime defenders at both the state and federal level. We represent clients from San Antonio and across the state of Texas.
No case is too small or too large for Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr. Our attorneys fight to preserve our clients’ presumption of innocence. We defend clients facing everything from misdemeanors in state court for marijuana possession to the felony federal drug trafficking offenses. Call (210) 226-1463 to speak to the attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr. We offer a free consultation.
Information on Federal and State Drug Law
- Texas and Federal Narcotics Offenses
- Federal and State Drug Classifications
- Marijuana Offenses
- Penalties and Punishments in Drug Crime Cases
- Scrutinizing the Prosecutor’s Evidence
- Resources for Drug Crimes in Bexar County
Texas and Federal Narcotics Offenses
Texas and federal criminal statutes impose strict punishments on people convicted of drug offenses. Some of these offenses include possession of a controlled substance, distribution of a controlled substance, and narcotics trafficking. This means there could be state penalties in addition to federal drug penalties.
The most common drug offenses in Texas include:
- A person can be charged with possession of a controlled substance under sections 481.115 through 481.118 of the Texas Health and Safety Code if he or she knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance without prescription from an individual licenses to practice medicine in the state. Penalties for this offense depend on the amount of the substance in the alleged offender’s possession.
- Someone could be charged with possession of drugs with the intent to distribute if he or she knowingly possess any controlled substance listed in with the intent to a deliver or distribute the substance. The penalties for this offense can vary depending on the amount of the substance and the penalty group in which the substance is classified.
- Drug trafficking, which may carry mandatory minimum sentences, is described as knowingly trafficking a substance classified in Penalty Groups I through IV. This also could include smuggling and importing controlled substances across borders, such as the Texas-Mexico border or any shared state border. This offense usually involves a large quantity of drugs and a number of drug offenses. Penalties vary depending on the amount of drugs and the classifications.
- Unlawful manufacturing or cultivation, is the manufacturing or growing of an illegal substance. This could include manufacturing in meth labs and cultivating marijuana in grow houses.
- A person could be charged with prescription fraud for fabricating prescriptions or fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs. A person who forges or alters a prescription could face prescription fraud charges.
Other drug offenses could include cocaine charges, drug conspiracy, continuing criminal enterprise, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges.
Different laws govern each of the controlled substances. The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr have extensive experience dealing with cases involving a wide variety of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, and OxyContin.
Federal and State Drug Classifications
Federal drug crimes are governed by The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, known as the Controlled Substances Act. Under this law, the drugs are classified into different schedules based on their potential for abuse and their medical use. Texas law has similar classifications known as penalty groups.
Drug crimes in Texas are largely governed by the Controlled Substances Act codified in the Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapters 481 through 486. Under Texas law, drugs are classified into different penalty groups including:
- Penalty Group 1: Methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, opium, methadone, ketamine, and hydrocodone (more than 300 mg)
- Penalty Group 1-A: Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
- Penalty Group 2: Mescaline, psilocybin (also called magic mushrooms or shrooms), mescaline, ecstasy, methaqualone, and amphetamine
- Penalty Group 3: Clonazepam, Xanax, Valium, Ritalin, hydrocodone (less than 300 mg), anabolic steroids, and Lorazepam
- Penalty Group 4: Compounds or mixtures containing limited amounts of narcotics and one or more active medical ingredients.
Marijuana (called “marihuana” in the Statutes) charges are among the most common drug offenses in Texas. State law separates marijuana offenses from other drug charges. The Texas Statutes contain laws prohibiting three main types of marijuana-related crime: delivery of marijuana, delivery of marijuana to a child, and possession.
Marijuana is still illegal everywhere in the United States under federal law. Delivery of marijuana can land you with state or federal charges. Federal agents typically focus on traffickers who deal in pounds or even tons of weed. Federal sentencing usually results in a longer sentence. Depending on the amount of marijuana delivered and whether the defendant received money for their trouble, this offense is charged as follows:
- Class B misdemeanor: delivery of one-fourth ounce or less for no compensation
- Class A misdemeanor: delivery of one-fourth ounce or less for compensation
- State jail felony: delivery of one-fourth ounce to 5 pounds
- Second-degree felony: delivery of 5 to 50 pounds
- First-degree felony: delivery of 50 to 2,000 pounds
- Life felony: delivery of more than 2,000 pounds
Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.122 makes it illegal to deliver any controlled substance, including marijuana, to a child. This drug offense is charged as a felony of the second degree.
Possession of marijuana is perhaps the most common drug charge in Bexar County. In fact, it’s so common that Bexar County law enforcement stopped arresting suspects for possession of smaller amounts under a new “cite and release” policy. If you’re caught with under four ounces, you’ll be written a citation and released without being taken to jail. You still have to show up in court, though. The charges you could face if busted with marijuana include:
- a Class B misdemeanor for 2 ounces or less
- a Class A misdemeanor for 2 to 4 ounces
- a state jail felony for 4 ounces to 5 pounds
- a third-degree felony for 5 to 50 pounds
- a second-degree felony for 50 to 2,000 pounds
- a life felony for over 2,000 pounds
If you need an experienced marijuana defense attorney, contact us today for a free consultation.
Penalties and Punishments in Drug Crime Cases
The penalties and punishments for drug charges often depend on multiple different factors. These factors include the type of controlled substance and the amount of the drug involved in the crime. Other factors could include:
- The purpose behind the possession, such as for personal use to feed an addiction or with the intention to distribute the drug to another person
- Whether other people were involved in the offense through a conspiracy
- Whether a firearm was possessed or used to commit the crime
- The location where the offense occurred and whether the location was considered a “Drug Free Zone.”
- Whether the accused has a prior criminal report or prior drug convictions
- Whether anyone was injured or killed because of the crime
A person can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony drug crime based on these factors. The most severe penalty would be a life felony, which is punishable by between five to 99 years or life in prison, up to a $250,000 fine or both.
If a person is convicted of a first-degree felony, he or she can be sentenced to between five and 99 years or life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. A second-degree felony is not as harsh, but it could include between two and 20 years behind bars, up to a $10,000 fine or both.
People who are convicted of a third-degree felony face between two and 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. State jail felonies could mean between 180 days to two years in jail, up to a $10,000 fine or both.
If a person is convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, he or she can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days behind bars, fines up to $2,000 or both.
Certain types of drug crimes are state jail felonies for which community supervision is mandatory including:
- the delivery or possession of 5 pounds or less but more than four ounces of marihuana
- the manufacture or delivery of less than 28 grams in Penalty Group 4;
- the manufacture, delivery or possession of less than 28 grams of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 3; or
- the manufacture, delivery or possession of less than one gram of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 or 2.
Scrutinizing the Prosecutor’s Evidence
In drug crime cases, law enforcement officers often use illegal and unreason methods to collect evidence. Our attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr are experienced at probing into search and seizure issues. These issues include traffic stops, K9 searches, and border searches.
The drug crime defense attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr in Bexar County, TX, also investigate the credibility of confidential informants. These informants, known as “snitches,” are often strongly motivated to comply with the prosecutor’s version of the facts.
Possible defenses to some drug offenses include:
- Contesting unlawful stops, detentions, searches, and seizures by law enforcement officers;
- Contesting the legality of a search warrant; and
- Contesting the sufficiency of the evidence to link the contraband to the person accused of the crime.
Texas Law on Dilutants or Adulterant
Under V.T.C.A., Health & Safety Code Section 481.002(49), the term “adulterant or dilutants” is defined as any material that increases the bulk, size, weight, or quantity of a controlled substance, regardless of whether the substance has an effect on the chemical activity of the controlled substance. By defining a dilutant or adulterant in this manner, the Texas Legislature attempted to eliminate the problem with determining the aggregate weight raised by McGlothlin v. State, 749 S.W.2d 856 (Tex.Cr.App.1988).
The definition of “controlled substance” was amended in 1997 to include the phrase “an adulterant or dilutant” within the definition of controlled substance. This addition allowed prosecutors to base the prosecution on the total weight of the substance along with the dilutants or adulterants without regard for the proportion of the enumerated substance.
Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code – This link provides detailed information on the laws and definitions associated with Texas narcotics crimes in the Texas Controlled Substances Act. It also outlines possible penalties for the crimes.
Drug Enforcement Agency – The DEA is a federal governmental agency whose mission is to enforce laws and regulations regarding controlled substances in the United States. This website gives information on federal laws regarding controlled substances.
Center for Health Care Services Drug Court Program – The Center for Health Care Services provides case management, psychiatric, and substance abuse treatment services to the felony and misdemeanor Drug Courts in Bexar County.
Narcotics Anonymous – Narcotics Anonymous is a national non-profit organization for people suffering from drug addiction. Those with drug addictions meet and support others suffering from substance abuse issues for treatment and to maintain a sober lifestyle.
Marijuana Law and Penalties | Texas NORML – Texas NORML is the Austin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Visit this link to view a chart that thoroughly summarizes the penalties for breaking Texas’s marijuana laws. The chart includes penalties for possession, sale, and the more severe punishments reserved for hash and concentrates.
Finding a Drug Defense Attorney in San Antonio, Texas
When you need a lawyer with the experience to identify every possible opportunity to avoid conviction or reduce penalties for drug offenses, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr.
Our vast experience in state and federal court puts us in the unique position to provide the most focused and aggressive defense possible. Whether you need to fight back against state level charges or mount a federal criminal defense, we can get started today.
Call (210) 226-1463 for a free consultation.
This article was last updated on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.