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The Most Serious Drug Charges in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

The Most Serious Drug Charges in Texas

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Texas Drug Charges

Drug laws can vary quite a bit from state to state and Texas is no exception. There are a number of different factors that are considered when determining the severity of punishment, which can make the process seem very complicated. To help you get a better idea of how drug charges work in Texas, here is an overview of the key factors.


Classifications of Drugs in Texas

While there is a federal system of drug classification, Texas uses its own, which consists of several categories and subcategories. Penalty group 1 contains drugs that are considered the most dangerous and most lacking in medicinal value, whereas penalty group 4 contains drugs that have potential medicinal value and pose a limited threat. Accordingly, drug charges for penalty group 1 substances are usually much more serious than charges for penalty group 4 substances. Since some of the penalty group drugs do have medicinal value, they may be legally possessed and consumed with a prescription. Punishments are only given if you possess or use such drugs without a prescription.

  • Penalty group 1 includes cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ketamine, and other exceedingly dangerous drugs.
  • Penalty group 1a contains only LSD.
  • Penalty group 2 includes ecstasy, PCP, hashish, marijuana oil, and similar drugs.
  • Penalty group 2a contains only synthetic cannabinoids.
  • Penalty group 3 includes valium, xanax, and ritalin.
  • Penalty group 4 includes a wide variety of drugs that contan buprenorphine, dionine, motofen, and pyrovalerone.

As you might have noticed, marijuana itself is conspicuously absent from the above penalty groups. This is because marijuana is in a category of its own when it comes to drug classification in Texas. Generally speaking, marijuana penalties are slightly more lenient than those for penalty group 4, meaning that marijuana is essentially the sole occupant of the informal penalty group 5.

However, it is possible to receive a harsher punishment for a penalty group 4 charge than for a penalty group 1 charge. This is because the penalty will largely depend on the quantities involved. For example, a possession charge for a quarter of a gram of cocaine (180 days to 2 years in jail and/or a fine no more than $10,000) will be significantly less severe than a possession charge for 400 grams of valium (5 to 99 years in state prison and a fine no more than $50,000).

The Many Types of Drug Charges

Possession is only one of the several types of drug charges, with the others being paraphernalia, manufacturing/delivery, dealing, trafficking, and conspiracy.

  • Paraphernalia refers to items that are related to the creation, transportation, and use of drugs. Paraphernalia charges are generally limited in power, with a first offense paraphernalia possession charge in Texas resulting in no jail time and a fine of no more than $500. Repeat offenses can lead to increasing penalties, as can selling paraphernalia. Particularly high penalties can be imposed if you are charged with selling drug paraphernalia to a minor, in which case you are faced with between 180 days and 2 years in jail and a fine of no more than $10,000.
  • Possession simply refers to ownership of an illegal substance.
  • Manufacturing naturally refers to the creation of controlled substances. Meth labs and marijuana grow operations are the most common targets for manufacturing charges, since they tend to be the easiest to produce independently. Drug precursors are also carefully monitored, so you can be charged with intent to manufacture for buying bulk amounts of substances that are known to be used in the creation of drugs.
  • Delivery is also straightforward, referring to the transfer of a controlled substance from one individual to another. Possession with an intent to deliver is a very popular charge and is commonly used against individuals that simultaneously possess drugs and the equipment necessary to transfer them, such as scales.
  • Conspiracy refers to planning possession or delivery, specifically with other individuals. You can be charged with conspiracy even if you never actually possessed or delivered the drug.

Paraphernalia Penalties

  • At the low end of the spectrum, first offense paraphernalia possession will result in a class C misdemeanor (a fine no more than $500).
  • Second offense paraphernalia possession results in enhanced charges.
  • Selling paraphernalia is a class A misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and/or a fine of no more than $4,000).
  • Selling paraphernalia to a minor is a state jail felony (180 days to 2 years in a state jail and a fine of no more than $10,000).

Possession Penalties

  • Possessing a penalty group 1 or 1a drug is a state jail felony at the least and an enhanced first-degree felony at the most (10 to 99 years in jail and a fine of no more than $100,000). The main difference is that a 1a drug has a slightly higher minimum jail sentence and a significantly higher maximum fine for extremely large quantities.
  • Possessing a penalty group 2 drug has a similar range of consequences, although you cannot be charged with a first-degree felony for a penalty group 2 drug. However, you can be charged for an enhanced first-degree felony. Furthermore, the minimum jail sentence is only 5 years and the maximum fine is only $50,000 for penalty group 2 drugs.
  • Possessing a penalty group 3 or 4 drug is a class A misdemeanor at the least and an enhanced first-degree felony at the most (5 to 99 years in state prison and a fine of no more than $50,000).

Severe Penalties

As you might expect, the severity of charges increases dramatically as both the quantity and danger of the drug increases. While you might only spend a few years in jail and be fined a few thousand dollars for possessing a small amount of any substance, you could easily spend decades in jail and be fined tens of thousands of dollars for possessing very large quantities of any controlled substances.

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