What Determines Whether A Drug Charge Will Be A Misdemeanor Or Felony In Texas?
Two things will determine whether a drug charge is a misdemeanor or a felony: the type of substance and the amount of that substance. A third consideration would be whether there is an allegation of sale and distribution or manufacturing and delivery.
What Is Considered Possession of Unlawful Drugs In Texas?
If a substance is prohibited, being found with that substance is considered possession. To prove the case, there has to be some sort of affirmative connection between the person who is said to possess the substance and that substance. This would include situations where the substance is found in a pocket of your clothing or in a vehicle you occupy. However, in many possession cases arising in vehicles, the affirmative connection can be weak. Many times, police will charge everyone in the vehicle and let the court decide whose charges should stick.
Can Police Execute Search Of An Automobile Or Home Without A Warrant If There Is Suspicion That Drugs Would Be Found On The Premises Or In The Vehicle?
Typically, police have to get a warrant to do any kind of search but there are exceptions to that, such as if they see something illegal in plain view. They have to have something beyond just wanting to search to allow them to search. A hunch is not enough. Often, people think that they are going to be better off if they consent to a search. That is almost never the case. If you don’t give consent, police need some other legal justification for a search. For example, if they approach the vehicle and they smell the odor of marijuana, that is pretty much a blanket authorization for them to get you out of the car and search the car. Search and seizure law is a very well developed but extremely complex area of law.
The truth is that improper police searches happen all the time. The question is, what is the remedy when police search without appropriate justification. Often the remedy is the granting of a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence. The problem with relying on that to save you is you still get the ride to jail; you still have to hire a lawyer and fight the case, and you still have to have a judge who has the courage to grant a motion to suppress.
I Was A Passenger Or Visitor In A Place Where Drugs Were Found. Can I Receive A Drug Related Charge, Even If I Don’t Have Drugs Physically On Me?
I cannot count the number of times I have had clients in a “bad” crowd and someone else drops something and they get charged with it even though it wasn’t theirs. The prosecutor can decide to throw a case out if it is clear the drugs were not one person’s but another’s.
What Are The Penalties For Drug Convictions In Texas And Are There Alternative Programs For First-time Offenders?
The penalties for drug crimes run a wide range depending on what you are charged with. Sometimes, even if you have more than drug paraphernalia, the officer will give you a break by just charging you with paraphernalia, which is a class C misdemeanor and carries up to a $500 fine. Then, it goes up to a class B misdemeanor for a small quantity of marijuana. Some jurisdictions are relaxing their enforcement of that particular statute, so first time offenders can get a pass. They are not even filing those cases in Dallas County, for instance. There are also many diversion programs. The idea is that if people are addicted, we want to get them help, so they don’t keep cycling through the criminal justice system and causing a problem for society and themselves. The potential punishments for drug crimes go up all the way to 99 years or life in prison for offenses involving manufacturing or delivery.
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