Some drugs are illegal under certain conditions and other drugs are illegal regardless of the condition. Possession, manufacturing, or delivering these illicit drugs can mean serious jail time and large sums of fines and fees. Drugs, however, can impact your life in other ways, not only via penalties imposed by the State for a drug crimes conviction. Drugs can affect all aspects of your life. Below are some examples of the collateral consequences that result from dealing with or abusing a drug generally and a drug crime conviction specifically.
How do drugs affect your life?
Whether or not they are illicit or legal but unlawfully abused, drugs can have a detrimental impact on a person's life. There are financial problems, relationship matters, and health issues to contend with.
Drug use and/or abuse is not easy on the wallet. They can be expensive to purchase and they are expensive to manufacture. If you are a person using and abusing drugs, then you may be hiding money from family or stealing things from friends or strangers to sell for money -- all so you can afford your next high.
Further, if you are caught by the police, you have court and attorney fees to pay. If the charge leads to a conviction, then you may have substantial fines to pay. If you were caught while driving, then you may lose your driving privileges and to get your driver's license back, you will have to pay more fees and possibly surcharges. Your auto insurance premium may go up. And so on and so on.
In the end, your finances take a big hit when you are dealing with or using drugs unlawfully.
Family & Friends
If you are using or abusing drugs of any type or nature, it no doubt has an impact on your relationships with family and friends. This negative impact can materialize in different ways. You may spend less time with family or friends. You may begin lying to family or friends. You may become more aggressive. You may start to steal from loved ones. You may start coming around less. Any number and combination of these and other acts can lead to the deterioration of your relationship. The more these relationships deteriorate, the more you may be drawn to drugs.
Health is another important way that drugs can dramatically affect your life. There are specific effects of certain drugs, but generally speaking, drug addiction can cause:
- Overall problems with the ability to remember, make decisions, or pay attention for any length of time;
- A weakened immune system that increases your risk of infection or illness;
- Serious heart conditions that can lead to heart attacks, collapsed veins, or blood vessel infections;
- Changes in appetite and serious weight loss due to abdominal pain and nausea;
- Liver damage or liver failure;
- Brain-related health concerns, from seizures or confusion to brain damage and strokes;
- Lung disease; or
The above are long-term health issues or risks. In the short-term, drugs can impair your faculties to the point you are not in full control of your actions. This can lead to behavior that is unlawful, like assault, theft, reckless driving, evading arrest, or driving while intoxicated. And that means you have legal issues to deal with, too, which can further compound your financial woes, relationship issues, and health concerns.
What drugs are most commonly the subject of arrests in Houston, Texas?
In Texas, the Health and Safety Code, Chapter 481, identifies controlled substances and divides them into five penalty groups in addition to a separate marijuana category. But controlled substances are not the only drugs that can get you arrested in Texas for a drug crime. Substances that are considered “dangerous drugs,” meaning they are not included in any of the penalty groups but are drugs that must be obtained by a doctor's prescription, can also be subject to illegal activity. If you are in possession of dangerous drugs unlawfully, then you are committing an offense that also carries substantial penalties if convicted.
Drugs that are most commonly the subject of drug crimes arrests in Houston include:
- Cocaine and crack
- Synthetic marijuana
If you are caught with any one of these drugs (as well as other drugs per Texas law), then you can expect Texas to do all in its power to convict you. Even if its a marijuana possession charge -- while the rest of the country is becoming more lenient by decriminalizing marijuana or outright legalizing it for medical and/or recreational purposes, Texas remains steadfast on its persistence to keep marijuana illegal in almost all of its forms and under almost every single situation or condition.
Texas, in fact, has some of the harshest penalties when it comes to drug crimes. If you are charged with a drug crime and subsequently convicted, your sentence will depend on a number of factors.
Factors that Impact a Drug Crimes Sentencing
- The type of drug matters. The penalty groups outline the range of punishment for specific drugs. Harder drugs like cocaine or heroin have harsher penalties than softer drugs like marijuana.
- The quantity of the drug matters. The penalty group outlines the quantity that draws the line between a charge of possession versus a charge of manufacturing and delivering. Harsher penalties are reserved for those persons believed to be producing drugs for sale or distributing drugs.
- The purpose of possession matters. Penalties are harsher for persons in possession of drugs to sell as opposed to persons in possession of drugs for personal use.
- Location of the arrest matters. Depending on where you were arrested, your sentence could be enhanced. For instance, being arrested for possession outside a school can result in more jail time.
- Prior criminal record matters. Having previous convictions for any other crime, not just drug crimes, can mean harsher sentencing. If two of those prior convictions were felonies and the current charge is a felony and you are convicted, then it is possible you could see jail time for much of the remainder of your life.
How does a drug crime conviction affect your life?
When you are convicted of a drug crime, the impact on your life is multifold. It does much more than affect your health, your finances, or your family relationships. It also impacts your ability to:
- find employment;
- obtain loans;
- maintain child custody or unsupervised visitation;
- remain in the country, whether you are legally or illegally here;
- seek a higher education; and, among other things,
- secure safe housing.
If the drug crimes are felonies, then you also lose your Constitutional right to vote and to own and use a firearm. Many people charged with drug crimes are not what you would imagine given the stereotype that TV perpetuates. People charged with drug crimes are ordinary people in the ordinary sense of the word. They include:
- Family members, i.e., parents, siblings, aunts, uncles
- Professionals, i.e., pilots, teachers, real estate agents, doctors, nurses, lawyers, law enforcement agents
- Students, i.e., undergraduate students, international students, or graduate students
These are people who have someone who loves them. These are people who had things -- a life, a relationship, a career -- going for them. These are people who the public will not benefit if they are behind bars or punished in any other way. They are people who need to fight the charge so there is no criminal record. Because a criminal record means the collateral consequences as above-listed.
As it is, an arrest for a drug crime for an otherwise law-abiding citizen can be really scary, so they are often inclined to plead guilty at the arraignment or to accept any plea deal thrown their way. But pleading guilty at the arraignment or later by plea deal still means a criminal record. For some of you, you may have an option for programs like diversion, but these programs require complete commitment and participation. In order to participate in these types of programs, you must take responsibility for the crime. That may seem like an even exchange but for the fact that one mishap can lead to a conviction and jail time: these programs must be strictly followed in accordance with rules and conditions. So, diversion or similar programs are not always in your best interests.
Fighting the charge, however, is always in your best interests. But in order to be successful at it, you need to retain one of Houston's best criminal defense experts.
Who do you contact if you have been charged with a drug crime in the Houston metro area?
If you have been charged with a drug crime in the Houston metro area and need to/want to fight the charge because you are either (1) innocent or (2) do not want a criminal record to destroy your life, then you need to contact Houston's premier drug crimes lawyer. It's your Constitutional right to defend yourself, and it is in your best interests to ensure that the defense is smart, strategic, and most likely to succeed. Doug Murphy believes that each of his clients deserves that kind of defense.
Doug Murphy is Board Certified in criminal law. He has been defending clients accused of drug crimes for more than twenty years. Additionally, he is Board Certified in DWI defense -- so if your drug charge is related to a driving while intoxicated offense, this works in your benefit. The two certifications make Doug Murphy unique in Texas: there are only two attorneys in all of Texas who are Board certified in both law specialties simultaneously, and fortunately, Doug Murphy is one of them representing clients throughout the Houston metropolitan area.
Doug Murphy offers the below benefits to his clients:
- Extensive knowledge of the law;
- Extensive understanding of the court system, the judges, and state attorneys/prosecutors;
- A thorough understanding of juries and strategies to use; and
- A deep commitment to his clients and the criminal law practice itself (he regularly accepts speaking engagement invitations so he can share his knowledge and help other criminal defense attorneys learn and employ new skills and strategies).
Doug Murphy does not do what he does for the money, he does it because it is his passion. If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today at (713) 229-8333.