Texas has relatively strict criminal statutes. The drug laws in Texas, for example, are quite harsh when compared with the rules in many other states. People can get arrested for possessing substances that are legal in other states or for mismanaging their prescription medication.
Anyone arrested due to a violation of controlled substances laws in Texas will likely worry about the consequences they might face. Drug charges range from misdemeanor crimes to felony offenses, and the penalties range from probation to up to 99 years in state custody depending on the circumstances. The following three factors have the biggest impact on the penalties the courts can impose for Texas drug offenses.
The type of drugs
Texas maintains a schedule of controlled substances grouping certain types of drugs together. Factors including the likelihood of abuse, the risk of addiction, the medical usefulness of the drug and the possibility of an overdose all influence the classification of different drugs. The classification of the drugs involved in an alleged offense will directly influence the possible penalties. Prohibited drugs and narcotic pain relievers can lead to the courts imposing relatively harsh penalties.
The weight of the drugs
Police officers will seize any drugs that they find on someone’s person, in a vehicle or at a home. They will send those drugs for analysis. The overall weight of the drugs will directly influence the penalties that the courts may impose and the charges that the prosecutor pursues. Although even small amounts of drugs, like the residue left on paraphernalia, can lead to drug possession charges, more significant amounts can lead to very serious criminal allegations. Higher weights may lead to the state claiming that someone intended to distribute those drugs to others, which will likely result in felony charges.
A defendant’s prior record
Prosecutors will often highlight someone’s prior criminal convictions during what would otherwise seem like a minor drug case. Those who have repeatedly broken the law are often subject to harsher penalties than those facing first-time charges.
There are a handful of other factors that will also influence the likely penalties someone will face. For example, situations that involve violence or that may endanger children often lead to more serious charges and harsher penalties than simple possession cases.
Understanding how the courts determine the penalties they may impose for a drug offense could help people decide how to respond after a recent arrest. Seeking legal guidance accordingly is very important.