The penalties for drug charges can have sobering consequences: jail or prison, a criminal record, suspension of driver’s license, and steep fines. There are many factors that can dictate what penalties you may be facing. Some of the obvious questions that may drive your case: what kind of drugs did you have? Is there an allegation that you were selling drugs? How much did you have? Ultimately, it is difficult to say how your case might take shape without reviewing the specific evidence in your case. Drug charges in Texas are not located in the Texas Penal Code as most other crimes are. Instead, drug crimes can be found in Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. There are different kinds of drug charges. There is possession and there is also manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance. Possession encompasses both possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance charges. Marijuana is not considered a controlled substance and carries its own specific penalties.
What is a Controlled Substance?
There are a huge number of substances and drugs that are deemed to be dangerous and are therefore restricted. Some are obvious and come immediately to mind. These are drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine that are the usual suspects when a person thinks of illegal drugs. However, other substances do not immediately come to mind when a person thinks of illegal drugs. Some of these controlled substances are pharmaceuticals or chemicals that many people may not be as familiar with. A conviction for a drug charge could prevent a person from getting into college, or enrolling in professional programs like medical school or law school. Many drug charges are that funnel through the criminal justice system are charged as possession. If you are charged with possession or if you are facing another drug charge, either state or federal, call my office. If you are facing drug charges, if a family member or other loved one is facing such a charge, you need an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney who fights these cases. Call my office for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
What are Drug Charges and Drug Classifications?
The Texas Controlled Substances Act organizes controlled substances into four different categories with different levels of punishment. The Controlled Substances Act began on a federal level during the Nixon Administration. Two organizations: the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration determine which drugs belong in the different schedules. How and why a chemical substance gets categorized in a certain group is for two reasons: potential for abuse, and the medical value the substance has for treating people. In Texas there are hundreds of kinds and types of illegal and restricted controlled substances. These include narcotics, such as opiates and opioids, stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as barbiturate prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines. There are a couple of other sub-groups such as Penalty Group 1-A and 2-A. These groups do not require much discussion. Group 1-A contains only Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, better know by its acronym LSD. Penalty Group 2-A consists of synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the pharmacological effect of natural cannabinoids (these are strange, esoteric compounds that lack names and are referred to only as "JHW-004" and "JHW-007"). This is a brief discussion of each Penalty Group, but for a more thorough discussion, look at this page on Penalty Groups.
Penalty Group 1
- This group consists of the substances considered both most dangerous and least useful in medical treatment. Substances in this group are well known. There are opiates, including the isomers, esters, ethers, and salts of opiates. This includes codeine and heroin and methadone. Group I also includes the amphetamine cocaine. Methamphetamine is included in Group 1. Ketamine is also included. There are many more drugs in this group. For a more detailed listing of these substances, look at my page on penalty groups.
Penalty Group 2
- Drugs in this group includes hallucinogens, including their salts and isomers, and salts of isomers. These drugs include psychedelics such as mescaline, which is a psychotropic alkaloid that occurs naturally in the peyote plant. Although, peyote itself is in Group 3. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance that is found in various species of mushrooms, and it is also in Group 2. Amphetamine, a central nervous system stimulant, is also in Group 2. Amphetamine is the active ingredient in the prescription drug Adderall and others.
Penalty Group 3
- Central nervous system depressants such as alprazolam and diazepam are found in Group 3. Alprazolam is a very popular and widespread benzodiazepine that is better known by its brand name Xanax. Benzodiazopenes have a high potential for abuse and have both sedative and hypnotic properties. Alprazolam is used to treat both generalized anxiety and social anxiety. Alprazolam is the most frequently prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States. Peyote is also included in Group 3. Although there are certain Native American tribes and groups have a religious exemption from prosecution for possession and even for distribution of peyote for use in religious ceremonies.
Penalty Group 4
- Penalty Group 4 is a little weird and slightly confusing. Group 4 deals with substances that contain limited narcotics but have active nonnarcotic properties that lend the compound a substantial and valuable medicinal quality. These narcotics are substances codeine, dihydrocodeine, ethylmorphine, and diphenooxylate. On their own, these narcotics are all included in Penalty Group 1. However, when they are a part of compounds or mixtures with medicinal qualities, they become classified into Group 4.
What About Marijuana?
Marijuana is not a controlled substance in Texas, and it is classified by itself in its own category, with its own penalties. Marijuana is, however, a controlled substance according to the federal schedules. But, this page is about Texas drug charges, and Texas it has different and unique penalties. These penalties are less severe than any of the Penalty Groups. On a national scale, attitudes toward marijuana have rapidly become open-armed and accepting in the last decade. States like Colorado and Washington and Alaska have decriminalized marijuana. However, Texas law has not budged, and even though possession of small amounts is a misdemeanor, large amounts of marijuana still carry severe felony charges. Possession of Marijuana charges begin at the misdemeanor level—small amounts of marijuana can be punishable as a Class B or Class A Misdemeanor. Larger amounts can be a State Jail Felony or greater.
Factors Affecting Drug Charges in Tarrant County
Other significant factors that can enhance the severity of drug charges: did the offense involve death or serious bodily injury to another person? Another factor is what criminal history do you have? Was a weapon used in the commission of the offense? Was a child under 18 involved in the commission of the offense? There are many questions that can affect the way in which your case might take shape. If you have been arrested and are facing a charge for any drug charge, call me and let's talk about your case and your options and strategize your defense.