We all know that Texas is hard on crime, and that certainly includes drug possession. The laws in the Lone Star State pertaining to possession of controlled substances have been heralded as unduly harsh. However, punishment for these offenses is wide-ranging and depends on the classification and amount of drugs. If you are faced with a drug possession charge, it is imperative to know where you stand.
Drug Penalty Groups Under Texas Law
In Texas, controlled substances are regulated by the Texas Controlled Substances Act, which is part of the Texas Health and Safety Code. The Act categorizes controlled substances into six different penalty groups. The exception to this is marijuana, which is treated differently than every other controlled substance.
Below is an overview of each penalty group.
Penalty Group 1
This group includes substances deemed to be extremely dangerous and addictive, and therefore are highly regulated in Texas. This group includes opioids like codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. It also includes opium derivatives and opioids, methamphetamine, ketamine, mescaline, and hallucinogens. Even possessing small amounts of these substances is charged as a felony. Punishment for a small amount is between 6 months to 2 years in a state jail. If you are caught with more than 400 grams of one of these substances, you could spend anywhere from 15 to 99 years in prison.
Penalty Group 1-A
This group is exclusively for LSD and any derivatives of LSD. LSD is treated differently than other drugs because it is measured with different metrics. Rather than being measured by weight, LSD is measured by “units” which are generally a small paper soaked in LSD.
Possession for this group is charged as a felony under Texas law. For small amounts, you can be sentenced between 180 days and 2 years in state jail. For higher amounts, you will be facing between 15 to 99 years in prison.
Penalty Group 2
This penalty includes hallucinogenic drugs like ecstasy, PCP, and amphetamines. Possession in this group is charged as a felony. Penalties for this group start at 6 months to two years in state jail. If you are caught with more than 400 grams of any of these substances, you could be facing 5 to 99 years in prison.
Penalty Group 2-A
Penalty Group 2-A is made up of artificial chemical compounds similar to cannabinoids. Unlike penalty groups 1 and 1-A, possessing a small amount of these substances can be charged as a misdemeanor. However, any amount above 4 grams by weight will be charged as a felony and can carry a prison sentence of between 2 and 20 years.
Penalty Group 3
Opiates and Opioids not listed in Penalty Group 1, are part of Penalty Group 3. These include benzodiazepines, anabolic steroids, and other prescription drugs that have either a stimulant or depressant effect. For smaller amounts, possession is a misdemeanor in Texas. These charges carry a county jail sentence of up to 1 year. Possession of 28 grams or more of a Penalty Group 3 substance is a felony, with a maximum penalty of up to 99 years in prison.
Penalty Group 4
This group is made up of a variety of prescription medications as well as the chemical compounds that go into these medications. They are usually prescription drugs that have a high potential for abuse, but not listed in any of the previous penalty groups.
Like Penalty Group 3, possession of less than 28 grams of a Penalty Group 4 substance is a misdemeanor in Texas. However, possession of 28 grams or more of this substance group will be charged as a felony. If convicted of possession more than 400 grams, you will face a prison sentence of between 5 and 99 years.
Marijuana does not fit within any of the traditional six penalty groups. But, like lower-level penalty groups, small amounts of marijuana will be charged as a misdemeanor in Texas. For anything more than 4 grams, you will be charged with a felony under Texas law.
Other Consequences of Possession
In addition to the possible jail time and the hefty fine you would be facing, there are other consequences to consider if convicted of drug possession. Convictions for drug possession can also include the following:
- Driver’s license suspensions
- Concealed handgun license suspensions
- Inability to keep or obtain a professional license
- Difficulty in obtaining child custody or visitation rights
- Inability to keep financial aid, scholarships, grants, etc.
- Inability to keep or find a job
This list is not exhaustive, and there or other negative ramifications that could occur if convicted of drug possession.
Fighting Drug Charges in Texas
To be convicted of drug possession in Texas, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed an illegal substance intended for consumption. As such, a skilled defense attorney will focus on whether you were knowingly in possession, whether evidence obtained is admissible in court, and whether the substance was possessed illegally.
If you or a loved one have been charged with drug possession in Texas, contact a criminal defense attorney who will guide you through the process and give you a fighting chance.