In Texas, the potential punishment for a conviction for drug possession can be severe. That punishment depends in large part on the amount and type of controlled substance you are convicted of possessing. Under Texas law, cocaine carries the toughest penalties available for a drug possession case. This is due in part to the highly addictive nature of the drug.
What is cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant currently outlawed in all 50 states. The substance is used as a recreational drug and is highly addictive due to the effect it has on the reward pathway to the brain. Also known as the mesolimbic pathway, the reward pathway regulates motivation and desire. It is responsible for the strong urge repeated users of cocaine feel.
The origin of cocaine can be traced to South America, where indigenous groups chewed the leaves of the coca plant both for health purposes and for recreational use. The drug was first alkalized in Germany during the 19th century, where it quickly became popular for supposed medicinal uses. By the early 20th century, the drug had become outlawed in the United States. In the 1980's, a less expensive version of powdered cocaine commonly referred to as “crack” cocaine swept through major metropolitan areas.
Physical Appearance of Cocaine / Crack
Pure cocaine is frequently described as a pearly, white substance. However, most cocaine on the street is in the form of a white powder. This powder is formed by “cutting” the pure cocaine with everything from talc to caffeine or even heroin.
Crack cocaine is less pure than other forms of cocaine, and its visual appearance is different as well. Crack cocaine is typically prepared with ammonia or baking soda, which results in a substance with an off-white or yellow color. The texture of crack cocaine can vary greatly, from oily, to crumbly, or even form into crystals.
Common Street Names
Like with many controlled substances, there are a variety of street names for both cocaine and crack cocaine. Some of the more common street names for the substance are below.
Common street names for cocaine:
- Big C
Common street names for crack cocaine:
- Rock Candy
What are the effects of cocaine?
Cocaine is best known for causing an intense feeling of euphoria or happiness when consumed. A user can even lose contact with reality entirely, remaining in a state of stupor until the effects of the drug wear off. Users also often report a feeling of intense agitation.
The use of cocaine has physical symptoms as well. These symptoms include an elevated heart rate and high blood pressure. Users may also experience dilated pupils and excessive sweating. When high doses are used, cocaine can elevate body temperature significantly. The effects of cocaine begin in a matter of seconds after ingesting the drug. Depending on its strength, the effects of the drug can last for as little as five minutes or for up to 90 minutes.
How is cocaine classified under federal law?
Under federal law, all controlled substances are categorized in drug schedules established by the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. There are five drug schedules in total, with Schedule I containing the most addictive drugs and Schedule V containing the least addictive substances. While Schedule I drugs possess no possible medicinal value, Schedule V drugs have valid medical uses but are controlled due to their highly addictive nature.
According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cocaine is classified as a Schedule II substance. It shares a drug schedule with opium, morphine, Ritalin, PCP, and other opiates.
How is cocaine classified under Texas law?
The State of Texas has their own system for classifying controlled substances. Under the Texas Controlled Substances Act, the Texas Health and Safety Code rearranges the drugs listed in the U.S. Controlled Substance Act into six different drug penalty groups. Marijuana is the only controlled substance that is not categorized into one of the six groups. The drug penalty groups under Texas law are:
- Penalty Group 1
- Penalty Group 1A
- Penalty Group 2
- Penalty Group 2A
- Penalty Group 3
- Penalty Group 4.
These penalty groups are used by Texas judges when sentencing after a conviction in a drug possession case. Generally, sentences are toughest for Penalty Group 1 drugs and lowest for Penalty Group 4. If you are convicted of possession, your sentence will depend on:
- what penalty group the drug you are convicted of possessing belonged to,
- the amount of the drug you were convicted of possessing, and
- whether or not you possessed the drug while in the presence of a minor among other factors.
Under Texas law, cocaine is part of Penalty Group 1. These drugs carry the most severe punishment given that they are recreational and generally have no medical purpose. Other drugs in Penalty Group 1 include opioids, opium derivatives and/or opiates, methamphetamine, ketamine, mescaline, psilocybin, and other hallucinogens.
The punishment for a conviction of a Penalty Group 1 substance under Texas law is severe. This is especially true if you are convicted of possessing a large amount of the drug. For example, if you are convicted of possessing more than 400 grams of cocaine in Texas you face a state jail sentence of between 10 and 99 years. That is in addition to a maximum fine of up to $100,000.
Hiring the Best Houston Cocaine/Crack Possession Lawyer
If you have been arrested in the Houston area for possession of cocaine, it is critical that you contact a drug possession attorney immediately. The state won't wait to build a case against you, so you should begin preparing to defend yourself immediately.
Attorney Doug Murphy understands what a conviction for drug possession could mean to you. An experienced trial attorney, Doug Murphy has a long track record of obtaining favorable results for his clients. To discuss your case with a board certified expert in criminal defense law, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today for your free consultation.