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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
Any criminal offenses that involve controlled substances can result in serious penalties upon conviction. In some cases, the consequences may be severe even if the amount of the drug involved is relatively small. Whenever you are facing any kind of drug charges, you should strongly consider getting legal advice from an Austin drug lawyer right away.
The charges and penalties for possession, manufacture, delivery, and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances vary significantly depending on the type and weight of the drug in question, as well as the activities charged in the offense. A criminal defense attorney could advise you about which specific penalties you may be facing and help you devise an appropriate defense strategy.
Classification of Controlled Substances for Drug Crimes
Texas Health and Safety Code §481.032, a statute which is part of the Texas Controlled Substances Act, classifies controlled substances into schedules. The classifications applicable to Austin are based on the federal Controlled Substances Act, which classifies controlled substances into different categories for the purposes of charging certain drug offenses.
The classification of each drug is based on its potential for abuse, the level of risk to public health, and whether it has any generally accepted medical usage. The categories range from Schedule I for the most hazardous drugs to Schedule V for the least dangerous drugs. However, any drug offenses can result in serious charges and penalties, so consulting an Austin drug attorney when faced with such a charge for any schedule of drug may be advantageous.
Texas law further divides drugs into Penalty Groups—1 through 4—to establish specific penalties for the possession, manufacture, and distribution of various drugs. The only exception to this general classification scheme is for marijuana. Any criminal charges related to marijuana are governed by separate code provisions that implement less severe penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Possession of a Controlled Substance in Austin
Under Tex. Health and Safety Code §481.115, the charge and potential penalties for possession of controlled substances listed in Penalty Group 1 is dependent upon the weight of the controlled substance. These charges range from a state jail felony for possessing less than one gram of a Penalty Group 1 drug to a first-degree felony resulting in life in prison for possessing 400 grams or more of the drug.
Subsequent code provisions address the penalties for possession of drugs classified in Penalty Groups 2 through 4, the severity of which is also based on the weight of the drug. Regardless of the exact penalty group, possession of very large amounts of any controlled substance can result in very harsh consequences, so contacting a drug lawyer in Austin may be helpful.
As mentioned previously, possession of marijuana is addressed separately from other drugs, since there are substantially lower penalties for possessing only small amounts of the drug. However, possession of much larger amounts of marijuana can result in serious felony charges carrying the potential for lengthy terms of imprisonment.
Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession with Intent to Deliver Drugs
As is the case with possession of drugs, charges and penalties for the manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver drugs vary based on the weight and penalty group of the drug. Generally, it takes a lesser amount of a Penalty Group 1 drug to provoke the most severe felony drug charges, as opposed to drugs in Penalty Groups 3 and 4.
Penalties for these drug offenses can range from a state jail felony to a first-degree felony, depending on the situation. There are a separate set of offenses and penalties for the delivery of marijuana under Tex. Health and Safety Code §481.121, which are slightly harsher than those for the possession of marijuana.
Contact a Drug Attorney in Austin for Legal Assistance
When you are facing drug charges, it is understandable to be concerned about what a drug conviction could mean for your future. If you are convicted for a drug offense, you may experience greater difficulties in finding employment and housing.
Legal representation often can be the key to obtaining a negotiated plea agreement that contains more favorable terms. Alternatively, if you wish to proceed to trial, you are likely to benefit from the skills and knowledge that legal counsel may be able to offer you. To learn more about your legal options, contact an Austin drug lawyer today.