Texas has a well-earned reputation for being a state that is quite hard on criminal offenders. Not only do violent offenders run the risk of the death penalty, but those accused of non-violent offenses often face harsh sentences as well.
Drug offenses, in particular, can lead to serious penalties for those accused in Texas. Before you make any decisions about your legal strategy when charged with a drug crime, you first need to understand the potential consequences.
Possession charges can mean fines or jail
Of all of the possible drug offenses you might face, possession is the least severe. Possession offenses simply mean that you illegally owned a controlled substance. Texas breaks prohibited substances into multiple penalty groups, with Penalty Group 1 being the most serious and Penalty Group 4 the least. Marijuana has separate possession penalties.
The weight of the drug in question will influence the exact penalties, but they range from misdemeanor charges for less than 28 grams of a Penalty Group 4 charge to felony charges that can carry up to 99 years in jail.
Possession with intent has more serious repercussions
If a state charges you with possession with intent to deliver, they believe you have or would have played a role in local drug trafficking. The penalties, which, again, vary by the weight of the drugs, can mean fines of up to $250,000 and possibly life in prison if the drug in question weighs enough and belong to more serious penalty groups.
Trafficking or distribution can mean major penalties
Those charged with trafficking offenses at the state level will have some of the harshest penalties possible for non-violent offenders. Trafficking or manufacturing charges, even for a few ounces, could mean a sentence of up to 99 years or life in prison.
Trafficking charges might also result in federal prosecution. This means that you might be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing. The penalties for federal drug trafficking charges depend on the drug and weight, but just a single ounce (28 grams) of crack cocaine will mean five years of federal incarceration.
Until you can make sense of the charges against you and the possible penalties based on the claims of prosecutors, you won’t be able to properly strategize for your defense. Reviewing the charges and evidence against you can help you understand the risks involved in your pending charges.