The consequences of a conviction for drug possession charges in Texas are severe. But just because you have been arrested for allegedly possessing a controlled substance doesn't mean that you are certain to be convicted. The prosecutor in your case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you in fact unlawfully possessed a controlled substance, but to do that they need evidence.
In many cases, the evidence collected by police may seem substantial. It's important to understand, however, that the burden on the prosecutor is a high one and the evidence against you may not be enough. Sometimes, too, the evidence is obtained illegally, and when that's the case, your Houston drug possession lawyer may be able to have that evidence excluded at your trial.
If you are facing drug possession charges in Texas, attorney Doug Murphy can help. Doug Murphy is the premier Houston drug possession attorney. He has experience defending the rights of his clients in Houston and the surrounding counties. Time and again, he has taken on the prosecutors and won. That is due to the combination of his winning approach to litigation and his extensive experience. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation today.
What are the Elements of the Crime of Drug Possession in Texas?
According to the Texas Penal Code, it is unlawful to
Knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance, unless the person obtained the substance directly from or under a valid prescription or order from a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice.
In other words, there are three elements a prosecutor must prove in order to convict you of possession of a controlled substance. Those include:
- knowingly or intentionally
- a controlled substance.
What does knowingly or intentionally mean?
To convict you of drug possession, the state must show that you had the appropriate state of mind at the time. That means you were aware the substance in your possession was an illicit drug, even if you weren't completely sure what the substance was.
This element effectively creates a defense for anyone that unwittingly possesses a controlled substance. For example, if you bought an old suitcase from a yard sale and had no idea it was full of cocaine, you would not be guilty of possessing a controlled substance.
What is Possession?
According to Section 481.002(38) of the Texas Controlled Substance Act, possession is the “actual care, control, or management” of a controlled substance. This means possession is more than simply being in the vicinity of a drug.
The prosecutor must show that you exerted some kind of dominion over the illegal substance. That can include hiding it on your person, locking it in the trunk of your car, or even directing an associate to move it for you.
What is a controlled substance?
The final element a prosecutor must prove is that the substance in question was a controlled substance. A controlled substance is any substance contained in the drug penalty groups listed in the Controlled Substances Act.
There are 8 different penalty groups under Texas State Law. Penalty Group 1 drugs carry the most severe punishment, while marijuana carries the most lenient. The penalty groups are:
- Penalty Group 1 – Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, GHB, ketamine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone
- Penalty Group 1A – LSD
- Penalty Group 2 – Ecstasy, PCP, and mescaline
- Penalty Group 2A – Artificial Cannabinoids
- Penalty Group 3 – Benzodiazepines, steroids, Valium, Ritalin
- Penalty Group 4 – Opioids and prescription medications
- Dangerous Drugs
Who will prosecute the case against me?
If you are charged with possession of a controlled substance in Texas, you will be prosecuted by the district attorney for the county in which you allegedly committed the offense. While the penalties are still severe, the punishment for a conviction under state law will likely be less than if you were prosecuted in federal court. The schedule under which the drug you are convicted of possessing and the amount of the drug are the biggest factors in determining the potential penalties for a conviction for possession of controlled substances in Texas.
If you are arrested in the Houston area, there are a number of counties you could potentially be prosecuted in. If the arrest occurred inside the City of Houston, you would be prosecuted by the Harris County prosecuting attorney. However, with so many counties surrounding Houston, there are a variety of possibilities. Attorney Doug Murphy regularly represents clients accused of drug possession in Harris and surrounding counties in the Houston area.
What type of evidence will the prosecutor use against me?
There is a variety of evidence that can be used by the prosecutor to seek a conviction for drug possession. It's not uncommon for the prosecutor to use some or all of these forms of evidence in any given possession case. Some types of evidence commonly used in Texas drug possession cases include:
Drug Expert Testimony – Drug experts, typically employed by the state crime lab, are routinely used to verify that a substance is a controlled substance listed on the schedules in the Controlled Substance Act. These experts will often use the results of chemical tests to prove the substance was, in fact, a controlled substance.
Drugs – The controlled substances themselves are often brought into the courtroom for evidence. This is to not only prove that the drugs exist, but also to give a jury a point of reference of how much of a controlled substance was found.
Video – In some cases, a drug possession case will be part of a larger operation intended to net distributors. In other cases, there might be street camera or security camera footage used to show that you possessed a controlled substance.
Witness testimony – Possession cases frequently involve testimony from witnesses. This can include testimony from people that witnessed you purchase, transport, or use the controlled substance.
Officer testimony – In many cases, drug possession cases are built around officer testimony. Many drug arrests start with simple traffic stops, only for the officer to find grounds to search a vehicle and discover contraband. You can expect the arresting officer in your case to testify at your trial.
It is important to remember that Doug Murphy will review the evidence against you thoroughly and will aggressively and strategically challenge it from all angles, as appropriate.
What are some other common drug crimes in Texas?
Possession isn't the only type of drug-related crime under Texas law. In fact, many other drug crimes carry much more severe punishments than possessing a controlled substance. Some other Texas drug crimes include:
- Drug Conspiracy
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Distribution of a Controlled Substance
- Possession with the Intent to Manufacture a Controlled Substance.
Whether you are charged with simple possession of marijuana or federal drug trafficking charges, your first step after being arrested should be to contact an experienced Houston drug possession attorney. That way, your attorney can begin collecting and analyzing the evidence from your side, too. The sooner an attorney is able to begin on your case, the stronger your case may be.
Is it worth fighting the charges against me, or should I just plead guilty?
You should never plead guilty to a drug crime without first speaking with an attorney. Drug possession laws in Texas are strict, and without consulting with an experienced attorney you could wind up pleading guilty to a case that you could have won at trial. It's important to rely on the expertise of an experienced criminal defense lawyer before you make any sort of agreement with a prosecutor in your case.
Can my attorney keep the prosecutor from using any of the evidence against me in court?
Yes. If the evidence the state intends to use against you was obtained illegally, your attorney may be able to have that evidence excluded at your trial. This can be the result of an illegal search of your vehicle, home, or person.
Any evidence that was collected thanks to an illegal search or seizure can be barred from use at trial thanks to a doctrine known as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” That means any evidence tainted by an illegal search or seizure can be excluded; even your own testimony.
A court won't simply exclude evidence on its own, though. You will need the help of an experienced Houston drug crimes attorney to determine if a motion to exclude evidence is prudent.
Hire the Best Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer
A conviction for drug possession can change your life forever. Even being charged with a drug crime is a daunting process that can affect your life. Thankfully, you don't have to fight these charges on your own. Attorney Doug Murphy is the top Houston drug crimes lawyer available. He is a Board Certified expert in criminal defense law. This isn't just an empty accolade; Board certification requires an attorney to have an extensive background in criminal defense law as well as successfully pass a difficult skills exam. That's why Board certification is one of the best indicators of an attorney's abilities.
Attorney Doug Murphy is a strong advocate that will carefully investigate the charges against you. A fearless trial attorney, he prepares every case as if it were going to be tried in front of a jury. This approach has time and again resulted in positive results for his clients. To discuss your case with an expert in criminal law, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today.