Across the country, many states are taking major steps towards loosening the penalties associated with possessing some controlled substances. States like Washington now allow the possession of marijuana for recreational purposes. Even states that neighbor Texas, including Arkansas, have carved out exceptions for the possession of marijuana for medical use.
While drug laws might be rapidly changing in other parts of the country, the same can't be said for Texas. The Lonestar State has maintained its tough-on-crime reputation, and the consequences for drug possession are still severe. Possession of nearly any controlled substance is a felony under Texas law, which means that you can expect to be arrested if found possessing illegal drugs.
An arrest for drug possession in Houston, Texas, is a serious offense. However, simply being arrested is far different than being convicted of the crime. With the right Houston drug crimes attorney on your side, it is possible that you can avoid a conviction and the life-altering consequences that come with it. To discuss your possible legal options, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today.
Houston Drug Crime Arrests
If you have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance in Texas, the severity of the charges you face will depend on the type of substance and volume you were in possession of at the time of your arrest. In some limited cases involving small amounts of certain controlled substances, you may find yourself charged with a misdemeanor. However, for the vast majority of controlled substances under Texas law, possessing any amount will result in a felony charge. Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the process is generally the same.
The circumstances of your drug arrest will vary depending on the facts of your case. Some drug arrests come after a months-long investigation results in a carefully planned search warrant execution. Other cases stem from unlucky traffic stops or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either way, if you are arrested for a drug crimes charge you will be searched upon your arrest and transported to a jail or other facility to be processed.
At the jail, you will be fingerprinted and searched more thoroughly. In some cases, you will be required to change from your own clothes into some form of regulation uniform. Law enforcement agents are allowed to ask you to provide basic details about yourself like your name and address, but they are prohibited from interrogating you about your pending charges without advising you of your right to legal counsel.
Within 72 hours of your arrest, you will be taken to a court proceeding where the charges against you are read aloud. Known as an arraignment, this formal hearing will be your first opportunity to enter a plea in your case. You can have an attorney present for this hearing, and the court should also advise you at this time that you are entitled to an attorney if you cannot afford one. There are three options available when you enter your plea, including:
- Guilty – A guilty plea means that you admit to committing the offense. Your case will then move to sentencing.
- Not Guilty - A not guilty plea means that you deny committing the offense you are charged with. The case will proceed with the intent to go to trial.
- No Contest – Pleading no contest means that you accept the state has enough evidence to convict you even though you don't admit guilt. It functions the same as a guilty plea.
In some cases, you will have the opportunity to post bail and get out of jail before your arraignment date. This involves paying a bond to a licensed bail bondsmen and promising that you will comply with all court orders and mandatory appearances. If you are unable to afford bond in your case, you will be required to await trial while in custody.
You Rights after an Arrest
You have a number of important rights that protect you even when you have been arrested for a serious crime. Many of these rights are spelled out in what is known as the Miranda warning. However, you have other important rights that protect you from the moment you are placed in custody. Some of the most important rights are outlined below.
The Right to Remain Silent
While Texas law requires that you comply with law enforcement when it comes to giving basic biographical information like your name and address, you are under no obligation to speak to law enforcement about the charges against you.
The Right to a Lawyer
You have the right to have legal counsel at every stage of the criminal justice process. This includes every point from your arraignment up through your trial. The right to counsel isn't just for the wealthy; if you can't afford an attorney the court is required to appoint one on your behalf – but you must meet certain qualifications and these lawyers are often overloaded with cases.
Protections Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Jail is no picnic, but the Constitution of the United States of America requires that law enforcement meet your basic needs and refrain from abusing you while in their custody. You must be fed and clothed, and the police cannot use torture or abuse to attempt to coerce you into cooperating.
What to do When Arrested for a Drug Crime in Houston
If you are being placed under arrest for a drug crime in Houston, the first thing you should do is to stay calm. If your emotions get the best of you, you will be the first person that will potentially suffer because of it. Any outburst can not only hurt your case, but it can also lead to additional charges like resisting arrest or obstruction. It is in your best interest to stay calm and follow any instructions given by law enforcement if you are being placed under arrest.
The next important step is to remain silent. You have the right to refuse to discuss your case with law enforcement, and it is critical that you use that right. The police can twist your words and take anything you say out of context, and there is little upside in trying to argue your case to an arresting officer. Stay silent, and don't discuss your case with anyone other than your attorney. Do not ignorantly believe you can talk your way out of this situation. Everything you say will be used against you!
At your first opportunity, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. While this may be your first run-in with the law, the right attorney will have an extensive background to draw from that can provide you with context about your case. Your attorney will be able to advise you on your potential bail as well as what to expect at trial. Having an experienced advocate on your side is the most important step you can take after an arrest.
What a Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer Can Do For Your Case
If you follow the advice above, you will put yourself in the best position possible. If you avoid complicating your case any further, you will give your attorney the best opportunity to help you in your case.
In your case, the prosecution will focus on introducing as much evidence as possible to prove their case. But when it comes to defending drug crimes, attorney Doug Murphy focusing on showing the jury the state failed to make their case. Doug always reminds the jury that as a defendant, you aren't required to prove anything.
That doesn't mean you won't present evidence to show your innocence. Every case is different, and when evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a case Doug Murphy will determine what approach makes the most sense for you.
In some cases, there is strong evidence that the entire situation is a misunderstanding. In those types of cases, Doug will typically focus on the evidence that exonerates you.
In other cases, Doug will focus on the lack of evidence proving your guilt. This can include showing a state witness is unreliable or even casting doubt on the testimony of their scientific experts.
In all cases, Doug Murphy will ensure that the state is unable to admit evidence that shouldn't be present at trial. He has extensive experience filing motions to exclude evidence from your trial that was collected illegally. Regardless of the approach, Doug Murphy will work tirelessly to build the strongest defense available in your case.
Hiring the Right Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer
If you are facing drug crime charges in Houston, Texas, your first call should be to the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. Doug Murphy is Houston's a top criminal defense attorney. A Board Certified expert in criminal law, Doug has extensive experience obtaining favorable verdicts in drug cases throughout Houston and the surrounding areas. Each case is different, so to discuss your case with a drug crimes lawyer in Houston, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today for your free consultation.