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Texas Drug Penalties 101

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If the police catch you with illegal drugs in Texas, you will almost certainly face the court system. Any drug conviction automatically results in the suspension of your Texas Driver’s License. Then, in order to have your license reinstated, you must attend a Drug Education Program. The rest of the penalties you can incur for possession vary as much as the drugs themselves – so pay attention.

Marijuana: A Class of Its Own

Whether you call it “weed” or “pot”, marijuana exists within its own special, illegal drug category. In the last several years, public opinion about marijuana in Texas has significantly shifted. For example, a 2014 Public Policy Polling survey showed that more than half of Texans supported further reducing penalties for possession. This is even more interesting, when you consider the fact that marijuana possession usually carries the softest possible penalties. As we’ve covered before, Harris County began decriminalizing marijuana possession last October, however, this does not give you the freedom to toke up with impunity.

If you possess less than two ounces of marijuana on your first offense, you can usually avoid prosecution, as long as the offense is not connected with a violent crime. But even if you do avoid prosecution, you will still have to perform 15 hours of community service or take a mandatory drug-awareness class. If you fail to adhere to these guidelines, the court will charge you with a crime.

The court penalizes offenders for marijuana possession according to the amount that the police catch you with:

  • Up to two ounces – Maximum of six months in jail.
  • Up to four ounces – One year.
  • Up to five pounds – Two years.
  • Any more than five pounds – Labels you as a distributor and carries harsher penalties, including fines up to $50,000.

Bear in mind that these are state penalties. The federal courts usually handle larger amounts of possession. At that level, the maximum sentencing for marijuana can reach a decade in prison and fines of $50 million.

Penalties 1 and 1A: The Hard Stuff

Aside from marijuana, the law groups illegal drugs into different penalty classes. Penalty 1, the harshest class, includes the following drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ketamine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone

Because of their high levels of addiction, their high potential for lasting harm, and their significant lack of medical value, possession of these drugs–except at the smallest level–comes with strict penalties. The law considers every conviction in this class a felony conviction.

Jail time ranges from six months for less than a gram possessed to 99 years for 400 grams. For less than a gram, the court can fine you up to $10,000. For 200 grams and above, the fine can reach 10 times that ($100,000).

LSD, also known as acid, is the sole occupant of the Penalty 1A class. Because we measure LSD in units of dosage rather than weight, it has a slightly different, though largely similar penalty schedule. Any amount under 20 units makes you liable for up to six months in jail and a $10,000 fine. Possessing 4,000 units or more can net you a 99-year sentence and a $250,000 fine.

Penalty 2: Penalty 1 Lite

The Penalty 2 class includes the following drugs:

  • Ecstasy
  • PCP (Phencyclidine)
  • Mescaline
  • Marinol

The consequences for possessing a Penalty 2 controlled substance nearly mirror those for Penalty 1 substances; however, the law caps the fine for 400 grams or more of a Penalty 2 substance at $50,000 compared to the potential $100,000 fine for Penalty 1 substances.

Penalties 3 & 4: Prescriptions

The courts generally reserve the Penalty 3 & 4 levels for addictive and possibly dangerous substances that doctors usually prescribe for medical reasons. Assuming that you have a legitimate prescription, these drugs hold a higher threshold for possession.

These classes include the following drugs:

Penalty 3

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Ritalin
  • Hydrocodone

Penalty 4

  • Dionine (Morphine)
  • Motofen
  • Buprenorphine (an Opioid)
  • Pyrovalerone

Possession of up to 28 grams without a prescription carries a maximum $4,000 fine ($2,000 for Penalty 4) and six months in jail. Up to 200 grams can get you from 2 to 10 years and $10,000 in fines. Over 400 grams brings another possible 99-year sentence.

Drug Paraphernalia: The Last Hit

Additionally, if you carry drug-use accessories such as bongs or roach clips, you can receive a separate charge with a maximum fine of $500, but no jail time.

Despite the justice system’s recent efforts to reduce the punishments meted out for drug possession, illegally possessing controlled substances remains one of the most likely activities to land you in prison. A little less than half of all prison inmates have a drug charge against them. Don’t end up like them.

Houston Drug Offense Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug-related offense, you need immediate representation. Thiessen Law Firm is an award-winning criminal defense firm for the Houston, Galveston, and surrounding areas in Texas. We understand the penalties you face. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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