The mere presence around drugs is not enough to be found to possess an illegal substance. An individual has to knowingly possess them.
So then, what is possession of drugs?
What if your loved one is traveling in a car with marijuana in it and that car is pulled over….are they possessing marijuana in the car simply because they are riding in it?
Possession of a Controlled Substance – What makes a drug a felony vs a misdemeanor?
The Texas Health and Safety Code categorizes drugs according to how addictive they are considered and put them in certain schedules. Following this schedule, the same drugs are placed in penalty groups that mirror their addictiveness. The most addictive drugs: heroin, meth, and cocaine are all considered penalty group 1 drug under the Health and Safety Code.
These are some of the most common drugs:
Tramadol (Schedule 3)
Alprazolam / Xanax (Schedule 3)
Carisoprodol / Soma (Schedule 3)
Heroin (Schedule 1)
Methamphetamine (Schedule 1)
Cocaine (Schedule 1)
Oxycodone (Schedule 1)
Valium (Schedule 3)
Ritalin (Schedule 3)
Both the schedule of the drug and the weight of the drug determine the penalty or punishment range for the offense. For example, less than two ounces of marijuana is a class B misdemeanor while less than a gram of methamphetamine is a state jail felony. Both the drug and the weight play into the penalty range. There are certain circumstances where probation is mandatory for some drug offenses. It is extremely important to hire experienced defense counsel who knows the ins and outs of drug offenses and can protect your rights.
Accepting a conviction for a drug offense will result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license in most situations. This is just one of the collateral consequences of a conviction for a drug offense. It is important to be aware of not only the conditions of any possible plea agreement but what could happen in your life afterward.
There are both misdemeanor and felony drug offenses:
Class C – Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Marijuana pipe, etc.)
Class B – Possession of Marijuana <2oz Class A – Possession of a Controlled Substance State Jail Felony – Possession of Less Than a Gram of Cocaine 3rd Degree Felony – Possession of a Controlled Substance PG 1 1G-4G 2nd Degree Felony – Possession of a Controlled Substance PG 1 4G-200G 1st Degree Felony – Possession of a Controlled Substance PG 1 >= 400G
*The fact that there are drug offenses at every offense level makes it easier to negotiate cases downwards because there is always another drug offense one level down from wherever you are in the penalty range. Also, it is often the case that drugs are weighed while still packaged in a syringe or a plastic bag. Once removed from their packaging, it is sometimes the case that the drug weight is reduced enough to take the case down to a lower level penalty range….or at least arguably so…..
Drug Offense Enhancements
Drug charges can be enhanced in several ways. One of the most common ways drug charges are enhanced in when the case is charged, not as the defendant was just possessing the drug but the defendant was possessing the drug with the intent to manufacture/distribute the drug. If the offense is alleged in this way, the offense can be enhanced a felony-level upwards. For example, a second-degree felony would become a first-degree felony or a third-degree felony would become a second-degree felony.