Across the country, the shape of marijuana regulations is being radically changed by state legislatures as well as through voter initiatives. The movement to decriminalize marijuana has never been stronger, and it appears a major shift in the law is on the horizon. There may be a change coming nationally, but to date, little has changed when it comes to marijuana possession charges in Texas. In fact, Texas still has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. If charged with possession of marijuana, you should take the situation as seriously as you would as if you were arrested for violating any other drug possession law in Texas.
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in the Houston area, your first call should be to a Houston marijuana possession lawyer. Doug Murphy is one of the best Houston drug possession lawyers in the State of Texas. A fixture in the Houston area, Doug Murphy is known as one of the best criminal defense attorneys around. Drug possession charges in Texas can be daunting; get the help you need with a call to Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today.
Is marijuana legal under Texas law?
The short answer is no. The penalty for possession is still surprisingly high; you can land in jail for up to 180 days for possession of less than 2 ounces of the drug. In other words, a small amount of marijuana can cost you six months of your life. It's worth noting that courts rarely sentence anyone to the maximum, but that is cold comfort to anyone arrested under suspicion of possession of marijuana in Texas.
Marijuana has been prohibited in the State of Texas since 1923. In fact, until the early 1970s possession of the drug carried a potential life sentence. While those penalties have loosened in the years since then, possession of marijuana for any purpose is still illegal in the State of Texas. There is, however, an exemption for the use of low-THC CBD oil for the treatment of epilepsy.
Penalties for Possession of Marijuana
Possession of marijuana can potentially carry a multi-year prison sentence if you are convicted. The severity of your punishment will depend on the amount of marijuana by weight that you are convicted of possessing. Below is our breakdown of the penalties associated with possession for marijuana.
Possession of 2 ounces or less: Class B misdemeanor that carries a maximum jail sentence of 180 days as well as a fine of up to $2,000.
Possession between 2 and 4 ounces: Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum jail sentence of one year as well as a fine of up to $4,000.
Possession of between 4 ounces and 5 pounds: State jail felony that carries a sentence between 180 days and 2 years as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Possession of between 5 and 50 pounds: Third-degree felony that carries a sentence between 2 and 10 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Possession of between 50 and 2,000 pounds: Second-degree felony that carries a sentence of between 2 and 20 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Possession of more than 2,000 pounds: Felony that carries a sentence of between 5 and 99 years in prison as well as a fine of no more than $50,000.
Is it illegal to possess marijuana paraphernalia in Texas?
Yes. You will be charged with a separate crime if you are in possession of paraphernalia intended to be used to ingest marijuana. According to Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.002(17), paraphernalia is:
equipment, a product, or material that is used or intended for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, or concealing a controlled substance in violation of this chapter or in injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this chapter.
The statute goes on to provide a non-exclusive list of items that are considered drug paraphernalia, including bongs, vaporizers, and potted plants. If you have been charged with paraphernalia possession, you could face a criminal penalty just as severe as a violation of some drug possession laws in Texas. Don't hesitate to contact a Houston drug possession lawyer immediately.
What should I do if I am pulled over by the police while in possession of marijuana?
One of the most common circumstances that can lead to an arrest for possession of marijuana is a traffic stop. In fact, it's commonplace for drivers to be pulled over for a minor traffic infraction but ultimately be arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Below is our concise guide on how to avoid being arrested for possession of marijuana while driving in Texas.
No. 1: Do Not Drive While In Possession of Marijuana
This may sound like a joke, but in reality, the best way to avoid a possession arrest is to avoid being in possession of the substance in your vehicle or on your person. Regardless of your views on the fairness of marijuana laws, you risk arrest and confinement any time you leave home carrying marijuana or any other controlled substance.
No. 2: Watch What You Say
When you are pulled over by the police, be very careful with what you say. Every police stop is essentially a fishing expedition, with the officer looking for a reason to pull you out of a car or call for a drug dog. The easiest way to get arrested for possessing marijuana is by admitting to a police officer that you have some in your possession.
No. 3: Watch How You Behave
When communicating with a police officer, you will need to be aware of your actions in the same way that you will need to be aware of your words. If you give any indication that you are under the influence of a controlled substance, you are at risk for being arrested for DWI. This suspicion can lead the officer to seek a search warrant for your vehicle, which would also uncover any illegal substances you have stored there.
No. 4: Know Your Rights
You have a series of important rights guaranteed to you by the United States Constitution. You should always be aware of your rights and respond accordingly. If you feel your rights were violated during your traffic stop or arrest, contact a Houston criminal defense attorney immediately. The rights you should be aware of include:
- The right to be free from wrongful search and seizure.
- The right to remain silent.
- The right to a record of the incident even if the officer does not want you to have a copy of the report.
- The right to an attorney.
No. 5: Contact a Board Certified Houston Defense Attorney
The most important step you can take after you have been arrested is to hire an experienced Houston Drug Possession Attorney. There are hundreds of attorneys in Houston that hold themselves out as criminal defense attorneys. But the charges against you are serious, and it's important you hire an attorney that has the skills and experience to obtain a successful outcome in your case.
While you can learn a lot about an attorney from their websites and resume, the best indicator of an attorney's quality is whether or not he is Board Certified by the State of Texas as an expert in criminal defense law. Only a small fraction of the attorneys that practice law in the Houston area is certified as an expert in criminal law. That is because Board certification is a difficult accolade to obtain. To be eligible, an attorney must have years of experience in trying criminal cases. They must also dedicate a large part of their law practice exclusively to criminal defense law. Finally, an attorney must successfully pass a difficult skills exam before they will be considered for Board certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Hiring the Best Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in the Houston area, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. immediately. Attorney Doug Murphy is a Board Certified expert in criminal defense law. In fact, he is also a Board Certified expert in DWI defense law as well. That makes him one of only two attorneys in the State of Texas to be certified as an expert in both areas.
Doug Murphy is a fierce advocate for his clients. Many attorneys are content to take their client's money and push them into whatever plea bargain is offered by the prosecutor. Doug Murphy is not one of those attorneys. He approaches every case as if it would ultimately be tried in front of a jury of your peers. That approach gives you the best shot at an outcome in your case that you can be happy with. To discuss the merits of your case with a board-certified expert in criminal defense, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today for your free consultation.