When people are arrested for drug possession in Texas there are a wide range of possible penalties, depending on several factors.
For example, in some states, people caught with more than 5 ounces of heroin can face prison sentences of as long as 10 years, because prosecutors often add what is known as an ‘intent to distribute’ charge to possession, which carries heavier penalties.
In Dallas, defendants arrested on drug possession charges are subject to the Texas Controlled Drugs Act, which details the types of drugs that are considered illegal.
Anyone that wants to understand drug possession laws in Dallas must first understand what is categorized as a controlled substance.
The Role of the Texas Controlled Substances Act
The Texas Controlled Substances Act has five schedules or categories of drugs that are illegal. People found in possession of these drugs can face penalties, especially if the drugs are categorized as Schedule I or Schedule II, which are considered the most dangerous.
The five schedules of drugs listed in the Texas Controlled Substances Act include: (1)
- Schedule I – Drugs with a high likelihood of abuse, with no accepted medical use in the treatment of a patient. Marijuana, heroin, and LSD are examples of Schedule I drugs.
- Schedule II – Drugs with a high likelihood of abuse that have an accepted medical use in the treatment of a patient. Cocaine, methadone, methamphetamines, and morphine are examples of Schedule II drugs.
- Schedule III – Drugs with a lower likelihood of abuse than those in Schedule I and Schedule II, with an accepted medical use in the treatment of a patient. Examples include anabolic steroids, codeine, and barbiturates.
- Schedule IV – Drugs with a low likelihood of abuse that have an accepted medical use in the treatment of a patient. Examples include drugs like Xanax and diazepam, which are used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
- Schedule V – Drugs with a very low likelihood of abuse that have an accepted medical use in the treatment of a patient. Cough medicines that contain codeine are an example of a Schedule V drug.
Types of Drug Possession Charges
When people are arrested for drug possession, prosecutors will use the schedule of drugs to determine the official charges.
People caught with Schedule I, Schedule II, and Schedule III drugs are much more likely to face fines and jail time, than people caught with Schedule IV and Schedule V drugs.
Each state has specific laws for what constitutes possession, but in general, prosecutors must be able to prove that defendants knew the drugs they had were a controlled substance and that they knowingly took possession or exercised control over that substance.
Many states have also expanded possession to include any situation in which defendants had access to or knew of the location of illegal drugs even if those drugs were not in their possession when they were arrested.
For example, if police find keys to a storage locker in a defendant’s possession, and later discover that the locker holds a cache of drugs, prosecutors could charge that defendant with possession.
Common types of drug possession charges include:
- Possession for Personal Use – This is often known as ‘simple possession,’ and is usually a misdemeanor because the quantity found is so small.
- Possession with Intent to Distribute – This means that police found enough drugs to reasonably determine that the defendant intended to sell those drugs for profit.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – This refers to defendants caught with items such as crack pipes and syringes commonly used to smoke or inject drugs.
Common Defense Strategies for Drug Possession
Some of the common defense strategies for drug possession include:
- Unwitting Possession – This is used when defendants weren’t aware that they had drugs in their possession. For example, if someone places a package in a defendant’s house, and the defendant didn’t know that package contained drugs, defense attorneys could use this strategy.
- Unlawful Search and Seizure – If law enforcement authorities didn’t obtain a search warrant, or didn’t comply with probable cause statutes, defense lawyers could employ this strategy.
- Planted – In some instances, defendants can argue that police planted the drugs because of some vendetta or desire to get an arrest.
Attorneys for Drug Possession in Dallas
Experienced attorneys for drug possession in Dallas like me can find any discrepancies or mistakes that could help defendants in the legal process. Mounting an effective defense is a right granted to everyone that is arrested for a crime, and because drug charges can be very serious, securing the services of a lawyer is essential.
By: Criminal Attorney John Helms
Dallas Federal & State Criminal Defense Lawyer