Drug Possession

Drug possession is a serious criminal charge in Texas carrying a wide range of punishments from probation to lengthy prison sentences, depending on the amount of the drug. If you are charged under the possession law, it means the state has accused you of carrying or having access to a controlled substance such as marijuanacocaine, or Ecstasy.

Any drug possession conviction will result in a 6 month driver’s license suspension under Texas statutes.

Illegal Drugs in Texas

The Texas Health and Safety Code sets the possession law, dividing controlled substances into five penalty groups, plus a marijuana category. While some of the substances are legal prescription drugs, it is illegal to possess them without a rightful prescription, and the Texas health code establishes the punishments for illegal possession.

 

PENALTY GROUP EXAMPLES OF DRUGS/CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES
1 Cocaineheroinmethamphetamine, GHB, ketamine, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
1A LSD
2 Ecstasy (MMDA), PCP, mescaline, (resinous extractives of Cannabis that aren’t marihuana, e.g. hashish)
3 Valium, Xanax and Ritalin.
4 Compounds containing Dionine, Motofen, Buprenorphine or Pryovalerone

Penalties for Drug Possession in Texas

Whether you are charged with felony possession or misdemeanor possession depends on the penalty group and the weight or amount of the drug.

Penalty Group 1

WEIGHT CLASSIFICATION PENALTY
Less than one gram State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
1 gram or more, less than 4 grams Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
4 grams or more, but less than 200 grams Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams First-degree felony 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
400 grams or more Enhanced first-degree felony 10 to 99 years and a fine of not more than $100,000

Penalty Group 1A

AMOUNT CLASSIFICATION PENALTY
Fewer than 20 units State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
20 or more units, but less than 80 units Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
80 units or more, but less than 4,000 units Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
4,000 units or more, but less than 8,000 units First-degree felony 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
8,000 units or more Enhanced first-degree felony 15 to 99 years in a state prison and a fine of not more than $250,000

 

Penalty Group 2

WEIGHT CLASSIFICATION PENALTY
Less than one gram State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
More than 1 gram, less than 4 grams Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
More than 4 grams, less than 400 grams Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
400 grams or more Enhanced first-degree felony 5 to 99 years and a fine of not more than $50,000

 

Penalty Groups 3 and 4

WEIGHT CLASSIFICATION PENALTY
Less than 28 grams Class A misdemeanor Not more than 1 year in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000
28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
400 grams or more Enhanced first-degree felony 5 to 99 years and a fine of not more than $50,000

Additional Penalties

  • The Texas Tax Code, in addition to the criminal penalties for drug possession, also sets potential civil penalties. Although the statute is not often used in minor possession cases, the code requires that taxes must be paid on illegal drugs, so that “dealers” who possess over certain amounts can be charged with tax evasion.
  • The state of Texas can also suspend your license for up to six months following a conviction on any violation of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure also allows police to seize any property used or “intended to be used” in the commission of a drug felony. That means they can take your car, your home, or any other belonging where you are accused of carrying or hiding drugs. The asset forfeiture law is a civil action, not criminal, and you don’t have to be convicted for the state to try to take your property.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

In Texas, possession of drug paraphernalia is a separate criminal charge under the law.

What is defined as illegal drug paraphernalia?

Any item that can be used as a drug processing, packaging, or consumption mechanism can be defined as paraphernalia under 481.002 (17) of the Texas Controlled Substances Act. Even common household items such as scales, spoons, bowls, envelopes or bags can land you an illegal possession of paraphernalia charge. The most common paraphernalia charges result from pipes, and bongs.

What is the Penalty for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Texas?

Simple possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class C Misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of fines up to $500.

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute or sell drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to a year in jail. Second offense penalties will result in mandatory jail time, or if you sell to someone under 18 years old.

Will I have to go to Jail on my Drug Possession Criminal Charge?

The punishment largely depends on the amount of drugs involved and your previous conviction history, but it’s very possible you may not have to serve time for a drug possession conviction if it’s your first offense for a relatively small amount.

State possession law allows counties to set up diversion programs for people charged with crimes involving the use or possession of drugs, including marijuana. The state health code also requires any county with a population of more than 200,000 to establish a drug court program to send some drug offenders to treatment instead of jail. And, judges are required to give probation, or community supervision, in some drug possession cases.

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure makes community supervision and mandatory drug treatment programs a sentencing requirement for people convicted of possessing:

  • Less than 1 gram of drugs such as cocaine or meth.
  • Less than 5 units of drugs such as LSD.
  • Less than 1 gram of drugs such as Ecstasy (MMDA) or PCP.
  • Less than one pound of marijuana.

 

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