Possession of Controlled Substances
Illegal possession of controlled substances in Texas can lead to harsh penalties upon conviction and have a lasting impact on your reputation, ability to work, and obtain credit. If you or a loved one faces charges of illegally possessing drugs in Austin, Texas, you need an experienced defense attorney who will fight for you.
The Travis County drug possession attorneys of Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., have represented people in Austin facing charges of illegal possession of controlled substances for more than 50 years. Not every criminal charge is valid, as reflected by the number of favorable results we have obtained for clients.
Every criminal case has its own facts to consider. We can lead you through the Travis County criminal justice system and offer trusted guidance at every step in the process. Contact us today for an initial consultation about your controlled substance case.
What Is Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance?
The Texas Controlled Substances Act defines a variety of drugs as illegal to possess. The variety of illegal drugs includes those listed in federal Schedules I through V as well as Texas Penalty Group 1, 1-A, 1-B, 2, 2-A, 3, or 4.
Adulterants and dilutants are substances sometimes added to drugs to increase their quantity artificially. This is sometimes known as “cutting” the drug. Because controlled substance possession penalties are partially based on the weight of drugs seized, the law specifically states that a controlled substance includes the aggregate weight of actual drugs, adulterants, and/or dilutants mixed with the drugs.
It is also illegal to possess a controlled substance analogue, which is a substance with a chemical structure substantially similar to the chemical structure of a controlled substance or a substance made to mimic the effects of a controlled substance.
When Is It Considered Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance?
Texas’s controlled substance law states that possession means the “care, custody, control, or management” of a controlled substance. This means that police do not have to find the drug on your body or in your pocket or purse to charge you. If drugs are found in your home or vehicle, a storage locker or room assigned to you, or out in the open where you could have used or controlled them, you may be charged with possession.
You may be charged with sole possession or joint possession of a controlled substance.
However, you only commit an offense if you knowingly possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription. If you cannot be directly linked to illicit drugs that have been seized, a prosecutor must produce evidence that you knew the drugs were present and had some control over them. A prosecutor may do this with evidence of your:
- Proximity to and ability to access the controlled substance
- Presence where drugs were in plain view
- Presence at and links to a location where drugs were found
- Being under the influence of drugs when arrested
- Presence where evidence of drug use existed, such as drug paraphernalia or a large amount of cash (considered evidence of drug sales or “distribution.”)
- Attempt to flee the scene
A prosecutor may use your statements or how you acted to prove you were in control of contraband drugs. This is why we advise that you remain as calm as possible if you are arrested and that you tell the police you decline to answer questions until you have spoken with your attorney.
You should remain silent and contact Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., at your first opportunity.
Examples of Controlled Substances Under Texas Law
Texas law categorizes controlled substances into four groups based on their potential for abuse and their medicinal value. Drugs in Penalty Group 1 carry the most severe punishments, while drugs in Penalty Group 4 carry the least severe. The federal government’s controlled substance schedules are similar.
The four groups and the types of controlled substances in each group include:
- Penalty Group 1: Opium and opium derivatives, such as heroin, codeine, and morphine; oxycodone, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, LSD (Group 1A), and fentanyl (Group 1B0)
- Penalty Group 2 – Hallucinogenic drugs (PCP and Ecstasy / MDMA), amphetamine, and cannabinol derivatives (Group 2A)
- Penalty Group 3 – Certain stimulants, sedatives (Valium, Ritalin), or depressants that have the potential for abuse, peyote, anabolic steroids, and hormonal substances
- Penalty Group 4 – Narcotics not listed in Group 1 or 3 when combined with at least one nonnarcotic active medicinal ingredient
Marijuana is not included in any of the four penalty groups. Penalties for possession of marijuana are comparatively lighter but can nevertheless be serious.
Penalties for Possession of Controlled Substances Under Texas Law
Penalties for possession of a controlled substance are based on the type of drug (penalty group) and the amount, measured by weight or number of units. There are four to five levels of penalties in each of the four penalty groups.
For example, the penalties for possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 are:
- Less than 1 gram — 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000
- 1 gram but less than 4 grams — up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- 4 grams but less than 200 grams — up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- 200 grams but less than 400 grams — up to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- 400 grams or more —10 years to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
For possession of controlled substances in Penalty Group 1A, the penalties are:
- Fewer than 20 units — up to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000
- 20 units but fewer than 80 units — up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- 80 units but fewer than 4,000 units — up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- 4,000 units but fewer than 8,000 units — up to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- 8,000 or more units —15 years up to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000
Punishment for possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2 ranges from 180 days to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for possessing less than 1 gram. The punishment is 5 to 99 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for possessing 400 or more grams.
Punishment for possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 3 ranges from up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 for fewer than 28 grams to 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for 200 or more grams.
Punishment for possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 4 ranges from up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for possession of fewer than 28 grams to 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for 400 or more grams.
Punishment for Possession of Marijuana:
- 2 ounces or less — up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000
- 4 ounces or less but more than 2 ounces— up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000
- 5 pounds or less but more than 4 ounces — 180 days to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000
- 50 pounds or less but more than 5 pounds — 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- 2,000 pounds or less but more than 50 pounds — 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- More than 2,000 pounds — 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000
Possession vs. Distribution of a Controlled Substance
Distribution of controlled substances is a more serious offense under Texas law than possession of controlled substances. Distribution of a controlled substance means to deliver it to another person, whether for money or simply to share the drug.
Distributing a controlled substance in Texas is a felony offense. Penalties are serious. For example, possession with intent to distribute 1 to 4 grams of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison (as opposed to up to 10 years for possession) and a fine of up to $10,000.
Being charged with intent to distribute is more likely when police find a large quantity of drugs and/or cash or paraphernalia linked to drug sales, such as scales and baggies. Because drug distribution penalties are much harsher, some prosecutors add the charge to put pressure on a drug possession defendant.
Charged with Possession of Controlled Substances in Austin, Texas? Contact Us Now
If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance, the sooner you engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, the sooner our criminal defense lawyers can begin working to have controlled substance charges reduced or dismissed.
For more than 50 years, the Austin drug possession defense lawyers at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., have stood up to prosecutors and protected the rights of clients. Contact us today for a free initial consultation about your case.