Possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other controlled substances can result in significant criminal charges. Depending on the amount and type of substance, you can face consequences ranging from fines and probation to jail time or a prison sentence.
If you have been charged, you must contact an Austin drug & marijuana attorney online or call us at (512) 991-0576 to get your criminal defense started.
What is a Drug or Marijuana Charge?
A drug or marijuana possession charge has two main elements that prosecutors must be able to prove:
1) the defendant knew the drug in question was a controlled substance
2) the defendant knowingly had possession of or control of the drug in question
In this case, possession includes access to the drug even if the drug in question is not on the defendant's person. For example, if the defendant's car contains marijuana and the defendant has keys to the car, the defendant possesses that marijuana.
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Drug & Marijuana Penalties in Austin
The penalty for a drug or marijuana charges depends on a variety of factors, including the type of drug, the amount of the drug, the defendant's criminal history, and any other crimes committed in conjunction with possession of the drug. These factors can result in a charge ranging from a class B misdemeanor to a life felony, with the latter punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or 5 years to life in prison.
A drug or marijuana charge can have detrimental consequences, especially in the State of Texas. An experienced Austin drug and marijuana lawyer can craft a smart defense and potentially get your case dismissed through participation in the Austin Drug Courts.
Drugs are categorized into five drug schedules, I, II, III, IV, and V. Schedules are created by the DEA based on the risk of drug abuse. Due to the perceived risk of schedule I drugs, they are unable to be prescribed for medical use, unlike drugs in schedules II - V.
Texas Drug Penalty Groups
Texas has four penalty groups and two penalty subgroups used to control substance use, manufacture, and sale. In addition to these penalty groups, enhancements can be added to the potential sentence if the crime was conducted with children, in a drug-free zone, and in other circumstances. A drug-free zone is an area within 1,000 feet of a public or private school, playground, youth center, daycare, university, or other locations of higher education.
Drug schedules and penalty groups are not the same: drug schedules are federally regulated while each state sets unique penalty groups. However, drug schedules and penalty groups often share the characteristic of ranking drugs by potential abuse and harm to the individual.
Group 1 (PG1)
Penalty group 1 regulates opiates and opium derivatives. Examples of opium derivatives and other group 1 regulated substances include:
- Rohypnol, medically known as flunitrazepam,
- Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth,
- GHB, and
These substances have punishments that range from state jail felonies and less than $10,000 in fines for less than a gram of possession, manufacture, or delivery, to life in prison and less than $250,000 in fines for possession, manufacture, or delivery of the substance for greater than 400 grams.
Group 1-A (PG1-A)
This penalty group solely regulates lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly known as LSD. LSD is separated into its subgroup as it is measured in units rather than grams; however, it does carry the same punishments as its PG1 counterparts.
Group 2 (PG2)
Penalty Group 2 relegates hallucinogenic substances, depressants, and compound derivatives from 2-aminopropanel. Examples of Group 2 substances include:
- MDMA, also known as “Molly,”
- Psilocybin, also known as “magic mushrooms,”
- MDPV, and
While less dangerous than PG1 drugs, they carry harsh punishment if convicted.
Group 2 - A (PG2-A)
Penalty Group 2A regulates drugs that mimic the pharmacological effect of naturally occurring cannabinoids. Examples of PG2-A drugs include:
- THC oil,
- Wax or dabs, known as “concentrate,” and
- Synthetic cannabinoids, known as “spice.”
CBD is legal in Texas as long as it contains less than 0.3% of THC and does not fall under this classification.
Group 3 (PG3)
Group 3 regulates stimulants, depressants, Nalorphine, compounds containing narcotics, compounds containing other substances, peyote, appetite suppressants, Dextropropoxyphene, and non-exempt anabolic steroids. Drugs regulated under this classification may seem familiar due to their medical use; however, your doctor must prescribe them for legal use.
Examples of PG3 drugs include:
- Xanax, medically known as alprazolam,
- Ritalin, medically known as methylphenidate,
- Valium, medically known as diazepam, and
- Ativan, medically known as lorazepam.
Group 4 (PG4)
Penalty group 4 regulates drugs containing compounds with small quantities of narcotics and include quantities of non-medicinal compounds. Examples of PG4 drugs are drugs prescribed by your doctor that are not included in any of the three penalty groups above.
Enhancements for Groups 1 - 4
Along with the base penalties for each group, there can be enhancements of punishment depending on if children were involved in the crime, usage was done in the presence of a child, or if force was used in the crime. Enhancements may also apply depending on the location of delivery, if death or bodily injury was involved, or if the drug was a prescription delivered to a person other than the intended user.
Enhancements often are additional jail time or increased monetary fines reflecting the severity of the offense.
What If I Was Prescribed One of the Drugs Above?
Some drugs regulated by the state of Texas do have medical uses and can be prescribed by your doctor, such as Vyvanse, appetite suppressants, and other drugs included in Penalty Groups 1 through 4. After fulfillment by your pharmacist, the prescription’s container may have the phrasing “Caution: Federal law prohibits dispensation without prescription” or “Rx only,” to remind you the prescribed individual should be the only one taking them.
Even though you may be prescribed one of these medications to treat a medical condition, you cannot share them with others for recreational or medicinal use. Sharing these drugs is considered delivery of a controlled substance and you can be charged with additional enhancements.
If you are wrongfully arrested after using a controlled substance prescribed by your doctor, you will need to prove that these drugs were prescribed to you and hire an experienced Austin drug crimes attorney.
Texas Penalties for Possession of Heroin
If you are caught with possession of heroin in Texas, no matter the amount, it is considered a felony and comes with the following penalties:
- Less than a gram: considered a “state jail felony” with a jail sentence of 180 days to 2 years. A fine of up to $10,000 may be included.
- 1-3.99 grams: considered a “third degree felony” with a jail sentence of 2-10 years. A fine of up to $10,000 may be included.
- 4-199 grams: considered a “second degree felony” with a jail sentence of 2-20 years. A fine of up to $10,000 may be included.
- 200-399 grams: considered a “first degree felony” with a jail sentence of 5-99 years. A fine of up to $10,000 may be included.
- 400+ grams: considered an “enhanced first degree felony” with a jail sentence of 10-99 years. A fine of up to $100,000 may be included.
Defense for Drug Crimes in Austin, TX
At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we can do more. We understand the gravity of a drug crime arrest and we can help you fight the charges with our team of skilled Austin drug crime attorneys. With a 90% dismissal or reduction rate for drug crime felonies in 2021 and 100% of our drug crimes clients avoiding jail, we understand how to deliver the best possible results for our clients’ legal issues.
To get the representation you deserve even for a first offense, contact our Austin drug and marijuana attorneys online or via phone at (512) 991-0576.
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