The state of Texas is well known for its harsh drug possession laws. Does that mean that all drug possession laws in Texas result in felonies? While many possession cases are charged as a felony, the truth is that in every case it depends on the type and quantity of controlled substance you are alleged to be in possession of. It's important to understand that no matter what, being charged with possession of a controlled substance in Texas can have an enormous impact on your life. That's why your first call should be to a Houston drug possession lawyer. A Houston drug possession attorney may be able to help you have your charges reduced or even dismissed entirely.
When it comes to legal counsel you can trust, attorney Doug Murphy is the best Houston has to offer. An experienced trial attorney, Doug Murphy has a long track record of obtaining favorable results for his clients in and around the Houston area. To discuss your case with an experienced Houston defense attorney, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today.
When are drug possession charges in Texas treated as felonies?
As we mentioned above, the severity of a drug possession conviction under Texas law depends on the nature of a controlled substance and the amount you are alleged to have possessed. But to understand the potential penalties you face, you will first need to understand the penalty groups that all drugs are assigned to under Texas law.
Drug Penalty Groups Under Texas Law
Controlled substances in Texas are regulated by the Texas Controlled Substances Act, which is a part of the Texas Health and Safety Code. The Act sorts all controlled substances into six different categories, known as penalty groups. The major exception to these groups is marijuana, which is treated differently than every other controlled substance. The penalty groups are:
- Penalty Group 1
- Penalty Group 1-A
- Penalty Group 2
- Penalty Group 2-A
- Penalty Group 3
- Penalty Group 4
The punishment for possession of a drug in each group varies, with Penalty Group 1 carrying the most severe punishment and Penalty Group 4 carrying the least. While the potential punishment for a conviction for any of these penalty groups is severe, it's not a guarantee that merely being charged with the crime will result in your conviction. There are many valid defenses to drug possession charges, and a Houston drug possession attorney may be able to have charges against you reduced or dropped altogether. If that isn't the case, it's not uncommon for defendants to prevail at trial in front of a jury of their peers. To discuss your charges, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today for a free consultation. Attorney Doug Murphy can discuss with you the potential defenses that might apply in your case, and share how he has handled cases similar to yours in the past as well.
Penalty Group 1
The drugs in Penalty Group 1 are the heaviest regulated in the State of Texas. This group includes opioids like codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. It also includes opium derivatives and opioids, methamphetamine, ketamine, mescaline, and hallucinogens. Possession of a Penalty Group 1 substance is always charged as a felony. For the smaller amounts, you can be sentenced to between 180 days and 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. For larger amounts, you can be sentenced to between 15 and 99 years in prison as well as a maximum fine of $100,000.
Penalty Group 1-A
Penalty Group 1-A is exclusively for LSD and any derivatives of LSD. That includes any salt, isomer, or salts of isomers. LSD is treated differently than other drugs given that LSD is measured with different metrics. While most drugs are measured by weight, LSD is measured by “units” which are typically a small square of paper soaked in LSD.
Possession of a Penalty Group 1-A substance is always charged as a felony under Texas law. For small amounts, you will face a state jail sentence of between 180 days and 2 years in addition to a fine of up to $10,000. For the highest amounts, you will face a prison sentence of between 15 and 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Penalty Group 2
This penalty group is primarily made up of hallucinogenic drugs like Ecstasy, PCP, and peyote. Possession of a Penalty Group 2 substance is always charged as a felony, with a conviction for less than a gram carrying a potential sentence of 180 days to 2 years in state jail. It also carries a maximum fine of $10,000. For possession of more than 400 grams, you will face a potential sentence of between 5 and 99 years in state prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Penalty Group 2-A
Penalty Group 2-A is made up of the artificial chemical compounds that mimic cannabinoids. These substances have street names such as K2 and Spice. Unlike more severe charges, possessing small amounts of a Group 2-A substance is charged as a misdemeanor. If you are charged with possessing less than a gram you will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. If you are alleged to have possessed between 1 and 4 grams, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
Any amount above 4 grams by weight will be charged as a felony under Texas law. For smaller amounts, you will face up to a year in county jail. But a conviction for more than 400 grams of a Group 2-A substance carries a potential sentence of between 2 and 20 years in state prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Penalty Group 3
Opiates and Opioids not listed in Penalty Group 1 reside in Group 3. These include benzodiazepines, anabolic steroids, methylphenidate, and other prescription drugs that have either a stimulant or depressant effect. Possession of small amounts of drugs in Group three is considered misdemeanors under Texas law. These charges carry a county jail sentence of up to 1 year as well as a maximum fine of $4,000. Possession of 28 grams or more of a Group 3 substance is a felony, with a maximum penalty of up to 99 years in state prison for possession of more than 400 grams.
Penalty Group 4
Penalty Group 4 is made up of a variety of prescription medications as well as the chemical compounds that go into those medications. They are typically prescription drugs that have a high potential for abuse that is not included in any of the other penalty groups.
Much like with Penalty Group 3, the possession of less than 28 grams of a Penalty Group 4 drug is treated as a Class B Misdemeanor under Texas law. If convicted, you would face up to 180 days in county jail as well as a fine of no more than $2,000. However, the possession of 28 grams or more of a Penalty Group 4 substance will lead to felony charges. If you are convicted for possessing more than 400 grams, you will face a prison sentence of between 5 and 99 years as well as a maximum fine of $50,000.
Marijuana, also known as marihuana in the Texas code, doesn't fit within any of the traditional six penalty groups. Much like the lower-level penalty groups, possession of small amounts of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor under Texas law.
For less than ¼ of an ounce in your possession, you will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. If that amount is for payment of some kind, it is treated as a Class A misdemeanor. For anything more than ¼ of an ounce, you will be charged with a felony under Texas law. This is notably more severe than many other states. The most severe punishments are for more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana, which will cost you between 10 and 99 years in state prison as well as a maximum fine of up to $100,000.
Hiring the Best Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer
If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance in the Houston area, you need legal counsel that you can rely on. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the reality is that a conviction can cost you dearly. Not only do you face the potential for substantial fines and jail time, but you could also find it difficult to maintain employment or housing due to your criminal record. With an experienced Houston drug crimes lawyer, you may be able to avoid a conviction entirely.
Doug Murphy is the best drug crimes lawyer Houston as to offer. He is a board-certified expert in criminal defense law. In fact, he is also a board-certified expert in DWI defense law; a dual certification held by only two attorneys in the entire State of Texas. To discuss your case with an expert in criminal defense, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to set up your free consultation.