Austin Drug Offense Attorneys

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Texas drug laws carry steep penalties that can forever impact your life, work, family, and well-being. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime in Austin, Texas, you need an aggressive, experienced advocate on your side to protect your rights and fight for your future. Our reputable drug crime defense attorneys are here for you during this difficult time.

For more than 50 years, our firm has represented Austinites facing state and federal drug charges. Let us put this experience to work on your behalf. Contact an Austin drug crime defense attorney at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., today for a confidential consultation about your case.

Types of Controlled Substances in Texas

Texas drug laws categorize controlled substances into four groups based on their potential for abuse and their medicinal value, with correspondingly serious punishments. Drugs in Penalty Group 1 carry the most severe punishments, while drugs in Penalty Group 4 carry the least severe.

The four groups and the drugs that fall under them are:

  • Penalty Group 1 – Includes opioids, opium derivatives such as heroin, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, LSD (Group 1A), and fentanyl (Group 1B0)
  • Penalty Group 2 – Includes hallucinogenic substances, amphetamine, and cannabinol derivatives (Group 2A)
  • Penalty Group 3 – Includes certain drugs with stimulant or depressant effects that do not include at least one active medicinal ingredient, narcotic drugs in limited quantities, anabolic steroids, and hormonal substances
  • Penalty Group 4 – Includes narcotics in limited quantities that include at least one nonnarcotic active medicinal ingredient

Cannabis is not included in any of the four penalty groups. It carries comparatively lighter punishments that can nevertheless be serious.

What Are the Drug Laws in Texas?

In Texas, possessing, selling, or manufacturing controlled substances is against the law. The penalty for breaking the law varies depending on the type of substance involved, the quantity of said substance, and whether the crime involved possession or manufacture/delivery. The punishment for manufacture/delivery is typically more severe than possession.

That said, the state’s drug laws have been subject to change in recent years. For example, in 2021, the state enacted a new law stiffening the punishment for manufacturing and delivering fentanyl. In 2019, Texas legalized the purchase, sale, and possession of hemp, but not its processing or manufacturing.

The changing legal landscape regarding drugs is why it’s important to work with a knowledgeable drug possession lawyer who stays up-to-date on the evolving laws in Texas.

What Are the Possible Punishments for a Drug Crime?

The punishment for drug crimes in Texas depends on several factors, including:

  • The specific charge (e.g., possession, distribution, conspiracy)
  • Which Penalty Group the controlled substance belongs to
  • The amount/quantity of the controlled substance
  • The criminal history of the accused
  • Whether someone used a deadly weapon in the commission of the crime
  • Whether a minor was present
  • Whether anyone was injured or killed in the commission of the crime

Prosecutors will weigh these circumstances to determine the severity of the charges they bring. Here are the corresponding punishments in Texas law for a range of categories in ascending order of seriousness:

  • Class C Misdemeanor – Up to a $500 fine
  • Class B Misdemeanor – Up to 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine
  • Class A Misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine
  • State Jail Felony – 180 days to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine
  • Third Degree Felony – Two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • Second Degree Felony – Two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • First Degree Felony – Five to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
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Types of Drug Charges in Austin, Texas

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If you are caught with a controlled substance, you could face different charges based on the circumstances of your case. Some of the most common types of drug charges in Austin, Texas, include:

  • Possession – Possession is defined as “actual care, custody, control, or management.” Possession could involve marijuana, a controlled substance in Penalty Groups 1-4, schedule 1 or schedule 2 drugs, or drug paraphernalia, which includes items used to grow, distribute, or ingest drugs. A person commits an offense of possession if they knowingly or willingly possess the substance without a legitimate prescription.
  • Distribution – Many situations can lead to a charge of distribution of controlled substances, including simply sharing a legitimately prescribed drug, cannabis, or a controlled substance with a friend.
  • Interstate and international drug trafficking – This involves the manufacturing, delivery, distribution, or transportation of illegal drugs across state lines or a national border, such as Texas’s 1,254-mile border with Mexico.
  • Cultivation and manufacturing – It is illegal to grow a drug organically or produce it through manufacturing.
  • Maintaining a house where drugs are sold or kept – An individual whose home is used for drug possession, manufacturing, sale, or distribution could face a range of drug charges, even if they themselves did not participate or interact with the drugs.
  • Illegal internet narcotics sales – An individual who buys, sells, or ships illegal drugs or prescription drugs over the internet could be charged with a wide range of drug trafficking charges, depending on the circumstances.
  • Illegal possession of prescription drugs – Simply possessing prescription drugs without a legitimate prescription is a crime in Texas.
  • Money laundering – Money laundering is the concealment of the origins of money gained through illegal means, such as selling drugs.

Potential Defenses to a Charge of Drug Law Violations in Texas

To secure a conviction on drug charges, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant knowingly or intentionally committed that crime and that the substance was indeed illegal according to Texas drug laws.

For example, suppose you are accused of illegally possessing oxycodone. In that case, the state must prove that you knowingly possessed the drug and did not obtain it through a legal prescription. Depending on the circumstances of the charges against you, your lawyer may be able to deploy one or more of the following defenses:

  • You had a valid prescription for the drug – If you had a valid prescription for the drug in question, it cannot be classified as a “controlled substance” under Texas law.
  • You didn’t possess the drug – To prove possession, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you knowingly or intentionally carried or had access to the drug. Showing that the drug did not belong to you or that you were unaware of its existence would undermine the state’s case.
  • You were the victim of police misconduct – Police misconduct can take many forms, including falsification of evidence, brutality, or coerced confession. Suppose your lawyer can prove that the police acted illegally or abused their power. In that case, they could potentially have the case dismissed on constitutional grounds.
  • Probation – Depending on the charges and your criminal history, you may be able to seek probation for a drug crime. Specifically, suppose you are charged with possession of an illegal drug in an amount less than 1 gram (a state jail felony) and have not had any prior felony convictions. In that case, you could be granted probation instead of jail time.
  • Drug diversion – Depending on the charge, your criminal history, and the county in which you are charged, you may be able to pursue a drug diversion program. These programs are designed to rehabilitate first-time drug offenders, reduce the likelihood of subsequent offenses, and improve the overall administration of the courts.
  • Entrapment – Entrapment is a defense in which you admit to committing the crime only because you were induced or lured by a law enforcement officer.
  • Search and seizure violation – The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches or seizures. For police to conduct a legal search of your vehicle, home, or person, the police must have probable cause or a warrant, depending on the circumstances. If the police conducted an illegal search, whatever evidence they found could be suppressed in court, leaving prosecutors without enough evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Other Potential Ways to Secure a More Favorable Outcome

An experienced Austin drug crime lawyer can identify and pursue other approaches, methods, and strategies to reduce or minimize the consequences of a drug charge. For example, the prosecutor and your attorney may negotiate a plea bargain. In a plea bargain, the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge and agrees to a lighter punishment; in exchange, the more serious charges against them are dropped. Because there are advantages and disadvantages to accepting a plea deal, it is important to work with an experienced Austin drug crime attorney.

What Can I Do If I’m Charged with a Drug Law Violation?

Suppose you were charged with violating a drug law in Texas. In that case, the most important thing you can do is to refuse to answer any questions from the police without a lawyer present. Not only is this vital to your defense, but it is also your constitutional right. The sooner you engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, the sooner you gain the legal protections they can provide – and the sooner your lawyer can get to work building a case in your defense.

When your life, livelihood, and future are on the line, you need an attorney. One who understands the state’s drug laws, genuinely cares about you and your situation, aggressively advocates for your rights and interests, and isn’t afraid to fight for you at trial.

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

For over 50 years, the Austin criminal defense lawyers at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., have stood up to prosecutors and protected the rights of clients like you. Contact us today to discuss your case with a compassionate, experienced member of our team.