Were you or a loved one recently arrested on a drug charge? The sentencing for drug offenses in Texas is complicated and based upon the classification of the drug. Learn more about the laws regarding different drug offenses and their penalties below.
Categorization of Drugs in Texas
The penalties associated with drug offenses in Texas depend upon the category of drug associated with the charge. Some drugs may fall into multiple categories, while marijuana has its own category.
Narcotics include any drug that is derived from opium. These include:
Depressants are drugs that slow your body down. These drugs are typically used for relaxation, sedatives, or sleep assistants. They include:
- Many types of inhalants
Stimulants have the opposite effect on your body as depressants. This category of drugs is designed to make you more alert. They include:
- Some inhalants
This category of drugs includes ones that change your view of the reality around you. This view of reality can also include your general mood and ability to perceive events. Hallucinogens include:
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Texas Controlled Substances Act
The Texas Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1973 and continues to dictate the penalties associated with drug offenses in the state. The purpose of the law is to punish those caught with controlled dangerous substances (CDS). These drugs were highlighted due to the high potential of abuse that they often inflict.
Determining Whether a Drug Crime Is a Felony or Misdemeanor
Under the Texas Controlled Substances Act and the Texas Penal Code, being convicted of a drug offense in Texas can lead to either a felony or a misdemeanor. There are typically three conditions that determine which charge you will face:
- The category of drug you had in your possession
- How much of the drug you had in your possession
- Whether or not you had the intention of selling the drug
Although both misdemeanors and felonies can impact your life and freedom, a felony conviction can result in more severe impacts on your ability to hold jobs, vote, and rent certain homes. Both misdemeanor and felony convictions will likely result in a suspension of your driver’s license and mandatory treatment for drug addiction.
Penalty Groups for Texas Drug Offenses
When you are charged with a drug offense other than marijuana in Texas, you can face one of four penalty group. The penalty groups are based primarily upon the category of drug that you are accused of possessing.
Penalty Group 1 can carry sentences as short as 180 days in county jail with a fine of up to $10,000. If you are charged with having more than 400 grams of a substance, you can face up to life in prison and fines of $300,000.
Drugs in this penalty group include:
- Heroin and other opiates
- Meth and Crystal Meth
The Texas Health and Safety Code classifies LSD and all the drugs derived from it as group 1-A. Drug offense charges for this category also start at 180 days in jail with a $10,000 fine. However, this sentencing is only applicable if you have 20 units or less of the drug in your possession. Beyond 20 units, the potential sentencing for 1-A drugs is based upon the following:
- 20-80 units: As a third-degree felony, you can face 2-20 years in prison with a $10,000 fine.
- 80-3,999 units: Classified as a second-degree felony, this charge also can result in up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- 4,000-8,000 units: This possession level is classified as a first-degree felony and carries possible sentencing of 5-99 years in prison.
- 8,000 units or more: This is also a first-degree felony, but a conviction can result in 15-99 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing for penalty group 2 can be as little as two years in jail with fines up to $50,000. Life imprisonment sentences can be handed if you have more than 400 grams in your possession. Drugs in this penalty group include hashish, PCP, Ecstasy/MDMA, and cannabinoids other than marijuana.
If you are charged with a drug offense in this penalty group, you can face a year in jail with a fine of up to $4,000. However, having more than 200 grams increase the penalties to $10,000 fines and 20 years in prison. Lifetime sentences are possible for possessing more than 400 grams.
Drugs in this penalty group include:
- Anabolic steroids
- Prescription stimulants and depressants
Many prescription medications with the potential for abuse are covered in this group. The potential for sentencing includes between 180 days in jail and a lifetime sentence if you are caught with more than 400 grams in your possession.
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Marijuana Laws in Texas
Marijuana drug offenses in Texas fall under their own penalty group. Although other states in the country have passed more lenient laws on the possession of marijuana, Texas laws continue to be harsh.
Marijuana Misdemeanor Laws in Texas
If you have 4 ounces or less of marijuana in your possession in Texas, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. Up to two ounces is a Class B misdemeanor and carries 180 days in county jail and a potential fine of up to $2,000.
If you have between two to four ounces of marijuana in your possession, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This may result in up to a year in county jail and a $4,000 fine.
Marijuana Felony Charges in Texas
Having more than 4 ounces of marijuana in your possession can result in a felony charge in Texas. More than four ounces but less than five pounds carries between 180 days to two years in prison, with a $10,000 fine.
If you are caught with between five to 50 pounds of marijuana, you can face up to ten years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Having between 50 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana can result in prison time of up to 20 years and a $10,000 fine. More than 2,000 pounds of marijuana can result in up to 99 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.
Cultivation and Trafficking of Marijuana
Growing, selling, trafficking, or delivering marijuana can result in additional prison time. You can face up to 20 years in prison and $20,000 in fines if convicted.
Texas Drug Offense Attorney
If you are charged with a drug offense in Texas, you are faced with serious time in jail or prison, stiff fines, and a complex legal system. Finding an experienced drug offenses attorney in Texas can help you build a defense and assist you in understanding the complexity of the charges you face.