A conviction for a drug-related charge often has long-lasting negative consequences on one’s life. The conviction may need to be reported on future job applications, for example. The individual’s reputation in the community may be damaged, as the individual may be labeled a “druggie.” In addition, the individual’s personal relationships with friends and family may be damaged. However, Weatherford criminal defense attorneys experienced in drug-related charges are able to help. Criminal defense attorneys are able to study the facts of a case to determine whether the charges filed against the accused are proper. In many cases, charges are reduced or even dismissed.
In Texas, punishments for drug-related charges are divided into four Penalty Groups.
Penalty Groups 1 and 2 govern the possession of drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and MDMA (“Molly”), to name a few. Possession of these drugs is split into the following categories: Possession of under 1 gram, possession of between 1 and 4 grams, possession of between 4 and 200 grams, possession of between 200 and 400 grams, and possession of over 400 grams.
Penalty Groups 3 and 4 categorize the penalties differently. The threshold is 28 grams, rather than 1 gram.
Penalty Group 3 includes drugs such as Valium, Ativan, Ritalin, and anabolic steroids. Possessing under 28 grams of a Penalty Group 3 substance is a Class A misdemeanor. Those convicted of Class A misdemeanors face no more than one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
Penalty Group 4 includes certain opioids and morphine. Generally, substances that include narcotics comprise this group. For example, Tylenol 3 includes codeine and is categorized as a Penalty Group 4 substance.
Possessing less than 28 grams of a Penalty Group 4 substance is a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, an offender faces up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Penalties for drug possession will also vary significantly depending on the offender’s criminal record. A first-time offender typically faces lesser punishment than someone who has been convicted of several drug-related crimes in the past.
Defenses to drug charges
It is wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. With the right criminal defense attorney, those accused of drug possession charges will be able to protect their legal rights. Even making a simple statement to a law enforcement officer may severely damage one’s defense.
Depending on the individual facts of the claim, a criminal defense attorney may be able to raise defenses that result in a reduction or dismissal of charges. For example, if the law enforcement officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the accused’s vehicle, or if the officer did not have probable cause to conduct a search, any evidence obtained during the stop or search may be tainted. If the evidence is tainted, it generally may not be used in court. Therefore, if the only evidence used to file charges was obtained in an illegal search, the charges will very likely be dismissed.
Additionally, law enforcement officers must prove that the substance someone is accused of possessing is actually what the individual possessed at the time of the arrest. Lab results and other test results must be provided.
Have you been arrested for a drug-related charge?
If you have been arrested, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Brian Eppes and Jeff Hampton are former prosecutors with experience both inside and outside of the courtroom. To schedule your free consultation with the Hampton Eppes Law Group call 817-877-5200 or visit www.hamptonlegalgroup.com.