Interstate 40 has a reputation for being a major drug smuggling route, and local authorities are on the lookout for controlled substance violations. In Amarillo and throughout the Texas panhandle, law enforcement officers commonly pull people over to check for drugs, raising issues surrounding profiling and illegal search and seizures.
If you were stopped on I-40 in the Texas panhandle and charged with possession, distribution, or manufacturing of drugs from marijuana to methamphetamines, you need experienced legal representation. An I-40 drug lawyer could help you mount a powerful defense backed with evidence and in-depth knowledge of drug laws and criminal procedures.
Common Drug Charges Along I-40
There are a wide range of drug charges an individual may face after being pulled over on Interstate 40, including:
It is illegal to have any controlled substance or narcotic—such as heroin, marijuana, morphine, cocaine, or LSD—in the state of Texas. The penalties for possession depend heavily on the type and amount of the controlled substance. For example, small amounts of marijuana may be considered a Class A misdemeanor, but larger amounts of certain drugs can lead to felony charges.
Trafficking / Distribution
Producing, preparing, or growing a controlled substance (other than marijuana) is a state felony. Jail time and fines for this charge depend on the penalty group the drug is assigned to. For example, Penalty Group 1 includes heroin and cocaine and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. On the other hand, Penalty Group 4 drugs usually involve small amounts of narcotics mixed with over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol, which means they carry lesser penalties with as few as 180 days in jail.
In most cases, police officers must have a warrant to search someone’s property. Automobiles are an exception to this rule. In order to search someone’s car, all police officers need is probable cause—not a warrant.
This means that if a police officer believes the car contains evidence of an illegal activity, they can search it. Examples of probable cause include the smell of marijuana coming from the inside of a vehicle or drugs being in the officer’s line of sight. Additionally, police can search a vehicle if they have the owner’s verbal and voluntary consent.
However, not all police officers who search vehicles on I-40 have probable cause. If authorities search a vehicle “on a hunch” that there are drugs inside, it is an illegal justification and a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This means that the evidence should not be admissible in court, and an I-40 drug attorney could potentially use this misconduct to a defendant’s advantage.
Reach Out to an I-40 Drug Attorney
Drug crimes come with serious penalties in Texas, and something as simple as possession could potentially lead to a lifetime in prison. If you were arrested for drugs in Amarillo or elsewhere in the Panhandle, consider contacting an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. An I-40 drug lawyer could help protect your rights at every step work tirelessly to build a solid case. Call today to get started.