Austin, TX

Austin Possession of Controlled Substance Attorney

Qualified Austin Tx Drug Attorney

If you are facing possession of controlled substance charges in Austin, Texas, it is crucial that you seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The consequences of a criminal conviction can be severe and have long-lasting effects on your personal and professional life. Therefore, it is essential to have a skilled advocate on your side to protect your rights and ensure a fair trial. We have years of experience providing vigorous defense for clients accused of various crimes, ranging from minor misdemeanors to major felonies. We understand the legal system in Austin, Texas, and use our knowledge and skills to strategically navigate through the complexities of criminal law. Our goal is to minimize the negative consequences of a charge and where possible, secure a dismissal or reduction of the charges. We believe that everyone is entitled to a strong defense, regardless of the allegations they are facing. Reach out to us today to discuss your case and explore the best legal strategies for your defense.

Find out what penalties you could be facing for Texas drug crimes

The consequences of a possession of controlled substance conviction in Texas can be extremely severe and far-reaching, impacting many aspects of your life. The specific penalties will vary depending on the nature and quantity of the drugs involved, but they may include hefty fines, mandatory drug treatment or in-patient programs, probation, and even substantial prison sentences. Beyond the immediate legal repercussions, a possession of controlled substance conviction can stain your permanent criminal record, affecting your future prospects. It can limit your employment opportunities, as many employers are hesitant to hire individuals with a criminal record, particularly a drug-related one. Furthermore, a possession of controlled substance conviction can impact your personal life, straining relationships and potentially affecting custody agreements. For felonies, it can also result in loss of certain civil rights, including the right to vote, and can make it more difficult to receive financial aid for education.

Penalty Groups for Controlled Substances According to the Texas Health and Safety Code

The Texas Health and Safety Code classifies controlled substances into five Penalty Groups. Each group varies in terms of severity and the extent of punishment, with Group 1 substances considered the most severe and Group 5 the least. For instance, Penalty Group 1 includes drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. The minimum sentence for a conviction involving less than one gram of a Group 1 substance is a state jail felony, carrying a penalty of 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and a fine up to $10,000. However, if the amount exceeds 400 grams, an offender could face a first-degree felony, with penalties ranging from 10 to 99 years or life in prison, along with fines up to $100,000. On the other end of the spectrum, Penalty Group 5 mostly includes over-the-counter drugs with potential for abuse. A conviction involving less than one pound of a Group 5 substance can result in a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in a county jail and a fine not to exceed $2,000. If the amount involved exceeds 200 pounds, the offender can face a second-degree felony, carrying a prison term between 2 to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000. Austin has taken a progressive view toward drug possession, but that doesn't mean you won't be arrested.

Drug Possession in Austin, Texas

In contrast to other cities in Texas, Austin has adopted a more progressive stance on drug offenses, particularly concerning marijuana. In August 2020, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to effectively end arrests and fines for low-level marijuana possession by passing a resolution that prevents the Austin Police Department from spending city funds on such enforcement. This initiative is a significant departure from the rest of Texas, where state law still categorizes possession of under two ounces of marijuana as a Class B misdemeanor. Although this resolution does not alter the state laws, it does determine the enforcement priorities within Austin city limits. The city’s novel approach signals an ongoing evolution in attitudes towards drug offenses in Austin. Nevertheless, this does not eliminate the need for legal representation, as charges can still be pursued under state or federal law.

Manufacture and Delivery of Drugs carries more serious penalties

Under Texas drug laws, the manufacture and delivery of controlled substances is treated as a much more serious offense compared to simple possession. While possession charges involve having a controlled substance for personal use, manufacture and delivery charges typically reference the production and distribution of these substances. The penalties for manufacture and delivery are determined by factors such as the type and amount of drug, and the defendant’s intent to distribute. For instance, delivering less than one gram of a Penalty Group 1 drug (which includes substances like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines) is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine up to $10,000. However, if the amount exceeds 400 grams, the offender faces a first-degree felony, which carries a penalty of 10-99 years or life in prison, and a fine up to $100,000. This stark difference in sentencing underscores the severity of manufacture and delivery charges.

Possession Drugs Without a Prescription can Also be a Criminal Charge

Possessing prescription medications without a legal prescription is also deemed a criminal offense under Texas Controlled Substances Act. Even if these drugs are intended for medicinal use, possession without a valid prescription is unlawful. Prescription drugs are classified under various Penalty Groups in Texas, with each group having specified penalties. For instance, unauthorized possession of a Penalty Group 3 drug (which includes many prescription medications like Xanax or Valium) could lead to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail and a fine up to $4,000, if the amount is less than 28 grams. In cases where the amount is greater than 28 grams, the penalties increase substantially. For instance, possession of 28 to 200 grams could lead to a second degree felony, punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. As with all drug charges, the specific circumstances of the case can influence the eventual sentence. If you possess medications in Texas, be sure to have a valid prescription.

Will My Driver’s License Be Suspended if I’m Arrested for Possession of Controlled Substance?

In Texas, a possession of controlled substance conviction can indeed have implications for your driving privileges. Under Texas law, individuals convicted of a drug offense can face automatic driver’s license suspension for a period of 180 days. This applies not only to offenses involving DWI, but to any drug offense. In order to have your license reinstated following the suspension period, you’ll be required to complete a 15-hour drug education program approved by the state and may need to pay a reinstatement fee.

Is it possible to avoid a POCS conviction?

Yes, it is indeed possible to avoid a Possession of a Controlled Substance (POCS) conviction in some cases. The options available to you will largely depend on the specific circumstances of your case, but some common strategies include:
  1. Challenging the Prosecutor’s Evidence: This involves scrutinizing every piece of evidence the prosecution intends to use against you. Did the law enforcement officer conduct a legal search? Was the chain of custody for the seized drugs unbroken? Was any aspect of your arrest or the investigation conducted improperly? If your criminal defense attorney can successfully challenge the legality or validity of the prosecution’s evidence, you may be able to avoid a conviction.
  2. Pretrial Diversion: In some cases, you might be able to participate in a pretrial diversion program. These programs are designed to give an opportunity to avoid a criminal record by undergoing a period of supervision and completing certain requirements, such as attending drug education or rehabilitation programs. If you successfully complete a pretrial diversion, the charges against you are typically dismissed.
  3. Acquittal at Trial: In certain cases, taking your case to trial and fighting the charges in front of a jury might be the best option. This is a risky strategy as it can result in a more severe penalty if you’re convicted.
The circumstances surrounding the arrest, and other factors like prior felony convictions will have a big impact on whether any of these options are possible.

Possible Collateral Consequences of a Possession of Controlled Substance Charge

A drug possession conviction can have several collateral consequences that extend beyond the immediate legal penalties. These consequences can infiltrate various aspects of your life, creating substantial hurdles.
  • Employment: Many employers run background checks and a drug conviction can be a red flag, making job hunting challenging. In some industries, such as law enforcement or education, a drug conviction can disqualify you from certain positions.
  • Housing: Public housing authorities and private landlords may reject applications from those with a criminal record, including drug convictions.
  • Education: Drug convictions can impact your eligibility for federal student aid including loans, grants, and work-study.
  • Professional Licensing: Certain professional licenses may be denied if you have a drug related offense on your record.
  • Immigration Status: If you’re not a U.S. citizen, a drug conviction can affect your immigration status. It could lead to deportation or prevent you from gaining citizenship.
These collateral consequences underscore the importance of having a strong defense lawyer when facing a drug possession charge.

Potential Defenses to a Charge of Drug Law Violations in Texas

When facing drug charges in Texas, several potential defenses may apply, depending on the specifics of the case:
  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensures the right to due process of law, including lawful search and seizure procedures prior to an arrest. If the drugs were found through a search that violated your constitutional rights, then the evidence obtained may be deemed inadmissible in court.
  • Lack of Possession: Simply being near or aware of drugs does not necessarily mean you possessed them. The prosecution must prove that you had control over the drugs, not just proximity.
  • Missing Drugs: The prosecution must be able to produce the actual drugs for which you are being charged. Sometimes, the drugs can get lost or destroyed while in evidence, which can lead to a dismissal of the case.

Probation and Deferred Adjudication

In cases of drug charges, probation is a common alternative to incarceration, especially for first-time offenders or minor drug charges. The offender is allowed to live in the community under supervised probation and must comply with certain conditions such as regular check-ins with a probation officer, drug testing, community service, or drug education programs. Non-compliance with these conditions may result in harsher penalties or reinstatement of the original sentence. Deferred adjudication, on the other hand, is a plea deal where the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to the charges, but the court defers rendering a verdict. The fundamental difference between probation and deferred adjudication lies in the impact on the defendant’s record. Probation results in a conviction on the defendant’s record. In contrast, successful completion of deferred adjudication can result in the charges being dismissed, meaning there would be no conviction on the defendant’s record. However, the arrest and proceedings will still be visible unless the record is sealed or expunged.

How Our Austin, Texas, Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You

Engaging an experienced attorney when facing drug possession charges can significantly influence the outcome of your case. An attorney’s expertise in navigating the complexities of the legal system, combined with their comprehensive understanding of drug laws, can be instrumental in building a robust defense strategy. They can scrutinize evidence, question procedural conduct, and challenge any infringements of your constitutional rights. Furthermore, attorneys are adept at negotiation, potentially reducing your charges or securing alternatives to incarceration like probation or deferred adjudication. Lastly, in case of deferred adjudication or dismissal, an attorney can guide you through the process of record sealing or expungement, lessening the impact of the charges on your life opportunities. Thus, hiring an attorney provides an indispensable safeguard against the potentially severe consequences of drug charges.

Facing Drug Possession of a Controlled Substance Charges in Central Texas? Contact Us

Set up a free consultation with an Austin drug crime lawyer by filling out a contact form, or by texting “consult” to 512-677-5003. We can usually schedule something for the same day.
505 West 12th Street, Suite 200 Austin Texas 78701

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