Drug charges include possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a dangerous drug. A conviction can result in jail time, fines, license suspensions and irreparable damage to your future. It is imperative that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side to determine what the defenses in your cases may be.
marijuana defense attorneys in austin, tx
Marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs and despite the rise in public approval for legalization, Texas law still bans all use of the drug. Marijuana is also commonly known as pot, weed, hydro, bud, chronic, reefer, dope, grass, Mary Jane, roach and ganja.
If you have been charged with any marijuana crime in Travis, Williamson, Bell or Hays County contact Martinez & LePendu, Attorneys at Law to ensure a zealous defense and to help you avoid the most serious repercussions to your alleged crime. This includes the cities Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Leander, Killeen, Temple, San Marcos and surrounding areas.
controlled substance defense attorneys in austin, tx
In Texas, controlled substances are classified into four penalty groups based on their potential for abuse, as well as their harmfulness. Section 481.101 - 105 of the Texas Health and Safety Code outlines these groups, with the Penalty Group I substances generally resulting in the most serious penalties and Penalty Group IV substances generally resulting in the least harsh punishments.
These penalty groups, which are outlined in the Texas Controlled Substances Act, help the courts determine the penalties for offenses involving illegal controlled substances. Some of the commonly used narcotics from each penalty group are as follows:
Texas Drug Penalty Groups
- Penalty Group I (PG-1) – these substances generally have a high likelihood of abuse. This penalty group includes Cocaine, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Codeine, Marijuana, Oxycodone, Opium, Methadone, Ketamine, and Methamphetamines. (Tex. Health and Safety Code Ann. § 481.102).
- Penalty Group II (PG-2) – these substances usually have a high potential for abuse. This penalty group includes PCP, Mescaline, Ecstasy, Methaqualone, and Amphetamines like Adderall. (Tex. Health and Safety Code Ann. § 481.103)
- Penalty Group III (PG-3) – these substances are associated with a lower likelihood for abuse than Schedule I or II. This penalty group includes Xanax, Valium, human growth hormone and steroids. (Tex. Health and Safety Code Ann. § 481.104)
- Penalty Group IV (PG-4) – these substances generally have the lowest potential for abuse and are commonly used for medical purposes in the United States. This penalty group includes narcotic compounds or mixtures that contain limited amounts of narcotics and one or more non-narcotic active medical ingredients. (Tex. Health and Safety Code Ann. § 481.105)
drug crime penalties
Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code defines the penalties for drug charges. These statutes provide for minimum punishments depending on the degree of the offense, but they can be increased depending on several factors such as whether the offense involves the death or serious bodily injury or another person and an individuals criminal history. Habitual felony offenders, violent career criminals and habitual violent felony offenders can receive a greater penalty. These are the minimum sentences under the Texas Penal Code for each degree of drug offense:
- A Class B misdemeanor drug offense is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000.
- A Class A misdemeanor drug offense can result in a jail sentence between 180 days to two years and/or a fine up to $4,000.
- A state jail felony drug offense can result in a jail sentence between 180 days to two years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- A third-degree felony drug offense can result in a prison sentence between two and ten years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- A second-degree felony drug offense can result in a prison sentence between two and twenty years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- A first-degree felony drug offense can result in a prison sentence between five and 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- A life felony drug offense can result in a prison sentence between five and 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $250,000.
Drug charge Defenses
Did you "intentionally or knowingly" "possess" the drug?
To convict an individual of possessing a drug, the State must prove that the individual actually "possessed" the drug and also that he or she "intentionally or knowingly" possessed the drug. Texas Health and Safety Code 481.002(38) defines “possession” as “actual, care, custody, control, or management.” In certain situations arguments can be made towards these elements of the crime. For example, if an individual is in the back seat of a car and drugs are found in the pocket of the driver of the vehicle, it is highly unlikely that the State will be able to prove that the individual in the back seat actually possessed those drugs. In this same situation, the argument could also be made that the individual in the back seat did not intentionally or knowingly possess the drugs because he or she was not even aware there were drugs in the car.
Illegal Search and Seizure - Fourth Amendment Provides Drug Crime Defense
Another key defense against drug charges is the search and seizure law. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees you protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. For a police officer to search your vehicle without your consent, he must have probable cause to believe that contraband is in your vehicle. If the arresting officer cannot prove that he had sufficient grounds for probable cause, the search is considered unconstitutional and illegal. All evidence discovered in an illegal search, including the drugs, can potentially be suppressed and ruled inadmissible at trial. This would most likely lead to your case being dismissed.
Resources for drug offenses in austin
Texas Controlled Substances Act – This link is to Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, which provides detailed information on the laws and definitions of drug offenses throughout Texas.
Drug Enforcement Administration - Federal Drug Penalties – The DEA is a governmental agency who enforces laws and regulations regarding controlled substances in the United States. Their website provides information on federal laws regarding controlled substances, such as the penalties for federal drug crime convictions.
Narcotics Anonymous – This non-profit organization was created for individuals who suffer from drug addiction. Groups meet to support each other's substance abuse issues and to seek treatment and maintain a sober lifestyle. Individuals seeking an NA meeting in Austin, Texas can find a location on this website.
Austin Recovery – Austin Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center that provides affordable, effective and confidential treatment for individuals and families in need.
Martinez & LePendu, Attorneys at law | Austin Drug Charge Attorneys
Contact Martinez & LePendu, Attorneys at Law today for a free consultation about your drug, narcotic, or controlled substance offense. Alejandro Martinez and Ivan LePendu are experienced Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers who will work to determine the best strategy for you.