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Houston Drug Crime Lawyer

Houston Drug Crime Lawyer

Houston Drug Crime Lawyer

Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Houston, TX

Possession of a controlled substance is one of the most common charges around the courthouse.  Hiring a lawyer well versed in the latest 4th Amendment search and seizure law is vital to avoiding a conviction, which also carries a six-month driver’s license suspension.  If the Houston police did not legally discover the drugs using proper police procedures, then all the evidence against you could be suppressed and your case dismissed.  Even if the police legally seized the evidence, it must still be proven that you intentionally and knowingly “possessed” the contraband.  In Texas, “possession” is defined as having actual care, custody, control, or management over the drugs.

These cases are very fact-specific, so call us today to schedule a free consultation with our Houston drug crime lawyers to begin your defense.

How Might My Charges Be Dropped or Lowered?

Once you begin working with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston, your legal counsel will look for any means to have your charges reduced to a lower offense or dropped altogether. The vast majority of charges are handled through a process known as plea bargaining. During this process, prosecutors make offers in return for an admittance of guilt.

Your Houston drug crime lawyer will represent you through the process while explaining the pros and cons of taking a deal. If the evidence clearly shows that you are not guilty, then taking a plea bargain may not be in your interest. There are many factors to consider, but some clients benefit from pleading guilty in return for lower penalties that may simply include fines and probation.

Prosecutors weigh many factors when offering a plea bargain, and first-time offenders, especially of marijuana possession, may benefit from having no drug-related convictions. Ultimately, there is never a guarantee that a jail sentence will not be included as part of a plea bargain or conviction.

Drug Crime Defense Strategies

The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, can investigate the circumstances surrounding your case to find legal grounds for reducing your charges. The Fourth Amendment provides defendants protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. If a Houston law enforcement officer violated your rights during a drug search, those findings could bolster your case. In some cases, Fourth Amendment violations could lead to the charges being dropped altogether.

There could also be circumstances in which the defendant did not have possession of the controlled substance. The legal guidelines for possession are very strict. The possessor must maintain care, custody, control, or management of the controlled substance.

By reviewing police reports, body camera footage, evidence from the scene, and testimony from witnesses, the attorneys at the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, can use every resource available to work toward the goal of convincing prosecutors or a judge to lower or drop your charges.

Hemp Is Legal in Texas. Can I Still Be Charged With Criminal Marijuana Possession?

In 2019, House Bill 1325 legalized the production and sale of hemp, which is a variety of cannabis sativa that has a very low dose of THC. When burned, hemp smells like marijuana and is very difficult to distinguish from marijuana without the use of a costly lab examination.

For this reason, many Texas district attorneys have taken steps to effectively decriminalize low levels of marijuana possession. Houston County’s DA, for example, now diverts anyone found with small amounts of marijuana to drug diversion programs.

What Are the Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Texas?

Marijuana remains illegal under state law, so possession of any amount of marijuana comes with risks. The charges can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a felony based on how much marijuana a defendant is caught with. These charges may include:

  • Possession of two ounces: Class B misdemeanor
  • Possession of four ounces or less but more than two ounces: Class A misdemeanor
  • Possession of five pounds or less but more than four ounces: Felony with state jail time
  • Possession of 50 pounds or less of marijuana but more than five pounds: Third-degree felony
  • Possession of 2,000 pounds or less of marijuana but more than 50 pounds: Second-degree felony

Texas’s marijuana laws are increasingly difficult to prosecute due to the legalization of hemp. Certain strains of THC derived from hemp are now legally sold at vape stores for recreational use. This means that law enforcement must now prove that a defendant did not buy a hemp-derived product.

Will My Case Go to Trial?

In some cases, the ideal option for a defendant is to take a plea bargain deal. When there is strong evidence that a defendant did not commit the crime with which they are charged, going to trial can exonerate the defendant. At all times, that decision is up to the person facing criminal charges. Attorneys provide counsel in their client’s interests, but the defendant must decide for themselves whether going to trial is the right course of action.

In a bench trial, the judge listens to the merits of the case and decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime. If a defendant is found guilty, the judge will then determine the sentence. The other option is for a jury trial, where six or 12 jurors (depending on whether it is a misdemeanor or felony charge) listen to the prosecution and defense’s arguments. Sometimes, these trials may span multiple days before the jury decides whether the defendant is guilty of a drug possession crime.

The jury’s decision must be unanimous. If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, the charges are immediately dropped, and the formerly accused person is free to go. In the event of a guilty verdict, either the jury or a judge determines the sentence.

Navigating whether to seek a jury trial or not requires an experienced Houston drug crime lawyer who understands drug laws and how to defend clients in a trial setting.

Potential Fines and Jail Time for Drug Crimes in Texas

Drug charges can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. This depends on the type of drug used, the amount of drug used, and other factors such as the defendant’s past criminal record. In general, drug laws prescribe stricter penalties for more serious drugs and larger possession amounts. Harsher sentences may be given if the accused individual:

  • Sold drugs to a minor
  • Engaged in drug transportation
  • Intended to transport drugs rather than use them recreationally
  • Violated parole conditions by possessing drugs

In Texas, drugs are classified into penalty groups. Penalty Group One includes dangerous and addictive drugs that have no medical use, such as:

  • Cocaine
  • Methadone
  • Heroin
  • GHB
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ketamine
  • Oxycontin
  • Codeine
  • Crack
  • Opium

If a defendant is found guilty of possession of under one gram of one of these drugs, they are convicted of a state jail felony. This results in a sentence of 180 days to two years in jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000. From there, the charges and sentences become more punitive.

Possession of four or more grams of a Group One drug could result in a second-degree felony and a sentence of two to 20 years in prison. Possession of even a small amount of LSD, fentanyl, or ecstasy could result in a third-degree felony. Any drug charge is serious and requires prompt legal representation from a Houston drug crime lawyer.

What to Expect as Your Case Moves Forward

If you are facing drug charges, the first step is to schedule a consultation with our attorney. During that important first step, your defense lawyer can listen to the details of your case while explaining what legal steps they can take to defend your rights.

Being arrested and charged with a drug crime can be an unsettling and even frightening experience. Defendants are often unaware that anyone charged with a crime has rights and protections. The burden is on prosecutors to prove an offense occurred beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are many factors, such as Fourth Amendment violations, that can help your case.

While facing drug possession charges, you will be expected to attend court hearings. These are often scheduled once a month. During the court appearance, you may be asked to plead guilty or not guilty. Drug-related cases can last anywhere from a few months to several months or even well over a year if you seek a jury trial. Defendants may be required to meet with members of a community supervision team and submit to drug tests, among other potential bond conditions.

Justice does not always come swiftly, especially when dealing with a complicated drug charge. While you wait out that process, your Houston drug charges lawyer will gather evidence and communicate with prosecutors while staying in close communication until your case is resolved.

What Do I Do Once I Am Arrested?

Being arrested can be a traumatic experience. During your arrest and processing, remember that you have the right to remain silent. Police and jailers are trained to extract incriminating information from you. They are even allowed to mislead and lie to gain compromising statements of guilt. Do not talk to anyone about your case. You do not know who may end up becoming a witness in your case.

Be sure to behave and remain calm. Any unruly actions may be taken as a sign of guilt. Resisting arrest can lead to additional charges. Lastly, take mental notes of the events leading up to and after your arrest. Write them down as soon as possible to ensure that you do not miss any important details that may prove useful in your drug crime case.

Can I Represent Myself in Houston Court?

Technically, it is possible to represent yourself in Houston court. However, it is highly ill-advised for various reasons. For one, criminal trials can be very emotional. An experienced attorney brings objectivity to your case. It is worth noting that even attorneys hire other attorneys for personal court-related matters.

Failure to follow strict court guidelines and laws could inadvertently land you back in jail. One of the jobs of legal counsel is to ensure that you understand your bond conditions and follow community supervision requirements. An experienced attorney understands filing deadlines and the procedural steps involved in a jury trial.


Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go to Jail in Houson, TX?

Anyone found in possession of an illegal drug will likely be arrested and processed in a county jail. Possible exceptions include Lone Star State counties where low levels of marijuana have been decriminalized or where jail diversion programs offer an alternative to being booked in jail. If you are able and eligible to post bail, you may spend as little as one day in jail before being released on bond.

How Do You Beat a Drug Possession Charge in Houston?

Your Houston drug offense lawyer can fight for the greatest outcome possible. Beating a possession charge can result from several factors. If another defendant confesses to possessing the drug in question, that can lead to dropped charges. A marijuana possession charge for legally bought hemp products is also subject to being dismissed. Police misconduct or failures of law enforcement to follow department policies could also favor your case.

How Many Xanax Is a Felony in Texas?

Xanax is classified under Penalty Group 3. Possession of more than 28 grams but fewer than 200 grams can lead to a third-degree felony in Texas, meaning you could pay fines as high as $10,000 and face a prison sentence of two to 10 years. Possession of fewer than 28 grams of Xanax is considered a Class A misdemeanor. This charge could lead to up to a $4,000 fine and/or spending a year in jail.

What Is the Texas Substance Controlled Act?

The Texas Controlled Substances Act (TCSA) of 1973 criminalizes the possession, distribution, and manufacture of controlled substances. The Act classifies controlled substances into schedules based on the drug’s potential for abuse.

Schedule I carries the most damaging and addictive substances, and Schedule IV drugs have the least potential risk. It also defines how these drugs may be prescribed, and it was updated in 2021 to no longer allow paper prescriptions for controlled substances without a waiver or other exemption.

Work With a Houston Drug Crimes Defense Law Firm

Being charged with a drug crime can lead many people to despair. The criminal justice system can be a cold and harsh environment when defendants feel they have few rights. The job of a Houston drug crime lawyer is to fight for your rights and to seek the most favorable outcome for your case. For some defendants, that may mean that charges are lowered or dropped entirely.

No matter which type of drug charge you find yourself faced with, you can trust the experienced team at the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, to defend your rights. Contact a member of our team for a consultation.

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