If you have been charged with possessing, manufacturing or selling a controlled substance in Houston, the smart thing to do is speak with an experienced Houston drug defense lawyer. The penalties of a conviction for drug or controlled substance possession can be severe.
Fines, loss of your driver’s license, probation and jail time are just a few of the penalties you face if convicted of violating Texas controlled substance laws. The severity of the penalty you receive will be decided by several factors, such as the type of substance, the quantity, and the aggravating circumstances in your case (where the crime took place, the intent, were minors present, etc.).
What is a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession or use is regulated, or controlled, by the government. In Texas this includes illicit drugs (heroin, cocaine), prescription medications (Valium, Xanax) naturally occurring compounds (mescaline, psilocybin) and synthetic ones (LSD, Kush).
A substance can be listed as “controlled” under Texas state law for many reasons. These include substances with a high potential for abuse, substances that have no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or substances that may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
For the purpose of establishing criminal penalties for violations, Texas state law divides controlled substances into four broad categories called “Penalty Groups”. Marijuana has its own special category.
The Four Penalty Groups
- PENALTY GROUP 1 includes opiates and opiate derivatives, such as heroin, as well as crystal methamphetamine and cocaine.
- PENALTY GROUP 1-A includes lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).
- PENALTY GROUP 2 includes hallucinogenic substances such as MMDA (Ecstasy), PCP, mescaline, hashish, and psilocin/psilocybin (found in mushrooms)
- PENALTY GROUP 2-A includes synthetic cannabinoids such as Kush, K2, and Spice
- PENALTY GROUP 3 includes substances whose stimulant or depressant effect on the central nervous system can lead to abuse. Prescription medications such as Valium, Xanax and Ritalin are examples of penalty group three substances.
- PENALTY GROUP 4 substances consist of certain compounds or mixtures containing buprenorphine, butorphanol or pyrovalerone as well as drugs that contain small amounts of codeine, dihydrocodeine, ethyl morphine and diphenoxylate.
Penalties in Controlled Substance Convictions
Texas state law provides for specific penalties based on the type of substance, the quantity and other factors. In Texas, an individual can be charged with possession of a controlled substance if they knowingly or intentionally possess any of the substances listed in the above penalty groups without a valid prescription from a doctor or proper research credentials.
Quantity is a big factor when it comes to sentencing. The higher the quantity, the worse the penalties will be. For instance, the penalty for possessing less than 1 gram of a Penalty One substance is a state jail felony; more than 1 gram and less than 4 grams is a 3rd degree felony; more than 4 grams and less than 200 grams is a 2nd degree felony; more than 200 grams and less than 400 grams is a 1st degree felony; more than 400 grams can mean 10 years to life imprisonment and up to $100,000 in fines.
Penalties for manufacturing or the delivery of controlled substances can be quite severe as well. Minimum punishments range from 180 to 2 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine; maximum punishment under state law can include up to life in prison and fines up to $250,000.
Other factors in sentencing include how and where the drug was concealed or stored, possession of drug with paraphernalia such as a scale, drugs found with large amounts of money and a defendant’s past convictions.
Marijuana Possession Laws and Penalties
As a controlled substance, Marijuana is placed in a category of its own. The penalties for possession are different from other controlled substances such as cocaine or heroin.
In Texas, possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana is class B misdemeanor. It comes with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail or up to $2,000 in fines. In many situations, a good defense lawyer can get their client into a drug treatment program. Successfully completing such a program can result in the charges being dropped.
Controlled Substance Defense Lawyer in Houston
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is an experienced Houston drug crime lawyer who has successfully defended clients who have been charged with a range of drug crimes such as:
- Drug possession
- Possession with intent to deliver
- Drug manufacturing
- Drug trafficking
- Drug distribution
- Prescription drug crimes
Keep in mind that just because you have been arrested for a drug crime in Houston doesn’t mean you’re guilty. You have the same rights as any other US citizen. Every case has its own special circumstances. Lisa Shapiro Strauss knows how important these circumstances can be in deciding you guilt or innocence. If you are facing drug charges in Houston call Lisa at 713-449-9922 or contact her online to set up a free confidential meeting to discuss your situation.