Houston Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys

Under what federal law are drug crimes regulated?

Federal crimes are regulated by the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, and the Controlled Substances Act covers nearly all crimes that occur within the state of Texas.

When do crimes become federal drug charges?

  • The crime involves crossing state or national borders; or
  • The crime involves a criminal enterprise, such as a gang or other organized crime; or
  • The prosecutor has decided to prosecute the crime in federal court.

Types of drug crimes?

  • Possession with intent to sell or distribute
  • Drug trafficking, delivery and import
  • Manufacture of medicines
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Prescription Drug Fraud – May include charges as simple as failure to keep records, falsify or alter a prescription, refill a prescription without authorization, or illegally manufacture with the intent to deliver a simulated controlled substance.
  • Drug possession – A person must knowingly and intentionally possess drugs. Intentional possession means that the person’s conscious goal is to participate in the conduct or to cause the result. Knowingly possession means that the person is aware of the nature of the possession and the circumstances that exist. The term real possession means real care, custody, control or administration. This means that the drug should be physically on the person or among her/his belongings.

Federal drug categories?

Chapter 13 of Title 21 of the United States Code is also known as the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA divides controlled substances into five categories:

  • Category I – Drugs without currently accepted medical use and with high potential for abuse. Examples include heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), cannabis (marijuana), methaqualone, peyote, psilocybin (mushrooms) and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy, or Molly).
  • Category II – Drugs with a high potential for abuse, the use of which can lead to serious physical or psychological dependence. Examples include combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per unit dose (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, Ritalin, opium, morphine, pure codeine, phenylcyclidine (PCP) and short-acting barbiturates (pentobarbital).
  • Category III – Drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Examples include products that contain less than 90 milligrams of codeine per unit dose (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and marinol.
  • Category IV – Drugs with low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Examples include Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, and Tramadol.
  • Category V – Drugs with less potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited amounts of certain narcotics. Examples include cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin.

On what does a conviction and the imposition of a sentence for drug crimes depend?

  • The type of drug the person possesses;
  • The amount of drugs in his possession (having a larger amount will mean a longer sentence);
  • Location (for example, if the person was near a school or daycare, the charge will be much more serious);
  • The purpose for which the drug is typically used (in other words, was there an intent to distribute or manufacture, or was it simply possession);
  • If the drug offense is combined with another offense (robbery or assault); and/or,
  • If there is a weapon involved in conjunction with the drug offense.

Possible defense against the crime of drug possession?

The main defense of the crime of possession is that the drug was received directly from or with the valid prescription of a health care professional who operates in the course of their professional practice.

Drug Penalty Groups in Texas?

Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code is known as the Texas Controlled Substances Act, and drugs are divided into six different classifications called Penalty Groups. Knowingly manufacturing, delivering, or possessing a controlled substance will result in a penalty if the person is found guilty. The type of drug and the amount of the substance will determine what the penalty will be. The Penalty Groups identified under state law in Texas include:

  • Group 1 – Per §481.102, includes methamphetamine, gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), cocaine, heroin, and oxycodone;
  • Less than one gram is a felony in state jail (sentence: 180 days – 2 years; fine: up to $10,000).
  • Less than 4 grams is a third degree felony (sentence: 2 to 10 years in state prison; fine: up to $10,000).
  • Less than 200 grams but more than 4 grams is a second degree felony (sentence: 2 to 20 years in state prison; fine: up to $10,000).
  • Less than 400 grams but more than 200 grams is a first degree felony (sentence: 5 years to life with a fine of up to $100,000).
  • More than 400 grams is an aggravated crime of the first degree (sentence: 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000).
  • Group 1-A – Under §481.1021, includes lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and its analogs;
  • Less than 20 units is a felony in state jail.
  • Less than 80 units but more than 20 is a second degree felony.
  • Less than 4,000 units but more than 80 units is a first degree felony.
  • Over 4,000 units is a sentence of 15 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
  • Group 2 – Under §481.103, includes MDMA and phencyclidine (PCP);
  • Less than one gram is a felony in state jail.
  • Less than 4 grams is a second degree felony.
  • Less than 200 grams but more than 4 grams is a first degree felony.
  • More than 400 grams is a sentence of 10 years to life in prison with a fine of up to $100,000.
  • Group 2-A – Under §481.1031, includes: materials, compounds, mixtures, or preparations that contain any amount of a natural or synthetic chemical substance. This section focuses primarily on synthetic canibanoids and creates civil liability for anyone who suffers personal injury from ingesting a synthetic canibanoid against anyone who manufactures, sells, or serves such a substance.
  • Group 3 – Under §481.104, includes alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), zolpidem (Ambien), and methylphenidate (Ritalin);
  • Less than 28 grams is a felony in the state jail.
  • Less than 200 grams but more than 28 grams is a second degree felony.
  • Less than 400 grams but more than 200 grams is a first degree felony.
  • More than 400 grams is a sentence of 10 years to life in prison with a fine of up to $100,000.
  • Group 4 – Under §481.105, includes compounds, mixtures, or preparations that contain limited amounts of narcotics.
  • Less than 28 grams is a felony in the state jail.
  • Less than 200 grams but more than 28 grams is a second degree felony.
  • Less than 400 grams but more than 200 grams is a first degree felony.
  • More than 400 grams is a sentence of 10 years to life in prison with a fine of up to $100,000.

Difference between dangerous drugs and controlled substances?

Texas law differentiates between possession of a dangerous drug and possession of a controlled substance. A dangerous drug is defined as any drug that is not safe for self-medication and is not included in Categories I through V or Penalty Groups 1 through 4 as listed in the Texas Controlled Substances Act. Dangerous drugs include, but are not limited to, the following substances:

  • Sudafed / Phenylephrine
  • Pseudoephedrine, in over-the-counter medications such as Claritin D
  • Dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over-the-counter cold medicines

What happens with drug charges related to minors?

Texas state law recognizes a difference between providing drugs or drug paraphernalia to an adult (a person over the age of 18) and providing drugs or paraphernalia to a minor (anyone under the age of 18). There are more severe penalties if an accused person is found guilty of these crimes than if it is a standard distribution case. However, the law also allows a greater number of defenses in these cases, even if the accused person knew or not that the person was a minor.

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