Possession of Cocaine Charges in Texas
- November 21, 2017
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Possession of Cocaine Charges in Texas
This post is what you need to know about possession of cocaine charges. If you or someone you love has been charged with any drug crime, recognize this is a serious offense in the state of Texas. Unfortunately, a cocaine drug charge could send you to prison for life. Cocaine crimes are considered Penalty Group 1 offenses. Because cocaine is classified as a Penalty Group 1 substance, possessing, selling, or trafficking any amount of this drug is considered a felony offense.
Law enforcement agents put a high priority on these drug crimes. According to scientific studies and statistics, drug abusers are directly responsible for a high percentage of other serious crimes, including aggravated assault and robbery and domestic violence in Texas.
Cocaine abusers are known to commit crimes in order to finance their cocaine habit. In addition, cocaine use is known to cause unpredictable behavior and mood swings. The Texas Department of Public Safety reports that approximately 140,000 people were arrested for drug crimes in 2013: almost 30,000 of these arrests were for cocaine possession and manufacturing crimes.
Realize that your future is at stake. Don’t wait to contact an experienced Texas drug crimes lawyer to discuss the best way to proceed after an arrest. Don’t assume that the charges are light—a Texas court is unlikely to agree with your assessment. If a Texas court convicts you or someone you love of possessing or manufacturing cocaine, you’ll face severe penalties. Just a small amount of cocaine on your person or in your home could result in harsh consequences.
How Texas Courts Consider the Possession and Sale of Cocaine
It’s illegal to possess or sell cocaine in Texas at the state or federal level. The Texas Health and Safety Code details the laws surrounding the possession or distribution of cocaine. The law notes the factors that may influence applicable penalties for the convicted offender, including:
- How much cocaine was in the defendant’s possession when he or she was arrested for cocaine possession? A small amount of cocaine on your person, in your home or vehicle, can mean a lengthy prison sentence. Possession of greater than 200 grams could mean life behind bars. If it’s the first offense and you had only a small amount of cocaine at the time of arrest, you might qualify for enrollment in a diversion program and avoid jail time. An experienced Texas drug crimes attorney can assist you in investigating this option. It may be possible to negotiate with the state prosecutor to drop the pending charges against you in exchange for your participation in a drug diversion program.
- How does the state of Texas penalize cocaine crimes? If the defendant is convicted, he or she faces penalties that depend on the amount of cocaine he or she possessed and what his or her intentions were for possessing it. For instance, 1) if you were carrying less than one gram (.01-.99 grams), you face a state jail felony and maximum $10,000 fine; 2) if you were carrying under (1.0-3.99 grams) four grams of cocaine, you face a third-degree felony charge; 3) if you were carrying up to 200 grams (4.0-199.99 grams), you face a second-degree felony charge; or 4) if you had greater than 200 grams in your possession (200.01+ grams), you face first-degree felony charges, including 10 – 99 years behind bars and a $100,000 fine.
Texas Cocaine Laws and Penalties
1. The possession, manufacture, or delivery of cocaine in prohibited in Texas:
- Texas Health and Safety Code 481.115 (Possession of cocaine) state that it’s unlawful to possess cocaine (in any amount). Possession denotes the individual intentionally or knowingly has “care,” “custody,” “control” or “management” of any amount of cocaine. If the defendant doesn’t know or intend to possess cocaine, this may be a defense against a conviction of cocaine possession charges.
- If convicted of possession of less than one gram of cocaine, the defendant faces punishments of six months – two years in a Texas prison. Regular probation or deferred adjudication may be an option if the defendant has never had a felony conviction. (The defendant may face third-degree felony charges if he or she had a prior felony conviction or used a deadly weapon during the commission of the crime.)
- If convicted of possession of one to 3.99 grams of cocaine, the defendant faces two – 10 years in prison and/or fines.
- If convicted of possession of four to 199.9 grams of cocaine, the defendant faces two – 20 years in prison and/or fines. (The defendant may face a first-degree felony charge if he or she had a prior felony conviction, other than a state jail felony.)
- If convicted of possession of 200 to 399.9 grams of cocaine, the defendant faces up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- If convicted of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine, the defendant faces an enhanced first-degree felony charge punishable by up to life in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine.
2. The delivery of cocaine:
- Texas Health and Safety Code 481.112 says that it’s illegal to deliver cocaine to another party in Texas. According to Texas law, the term “deliver” means to “transfer (in actual or constructive means) cocaine to another type of controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, or a counterfeit substance, whether or not an “agency relationship” exists between the parties.
- Delivery may involve an actual, e.g. hand-to-hand transfer, or constructive transfer. A “constructive delivery” or constructive transfer happens when the defendant performs an action that assists or effectuates another party’s possession of cocaine. For instance, if another party picks up several grams of cocaine that the defendant left at a “drop,” he or she allegedly constructively delivered cocaine.
- A cocaine delivery offense is punishable according to the cocaine weight that the defendant was allegedly delivering: 1) if he or she is convicted of delivering less than a single gram of cocaine, he or she faces 180 days – two years behind bars and a maximum $10,000 fine; 2) if he or she is convicted of delivering greater than 400 grams, the crime is punishable by up to life behind bars (15 – 99 years in prison) and/or a maximum $250,000 fine.
3. The manufacture of cocaine:
- Texas Health and Safety Code 481.112: Similar to possession and delivery crimes, cocaine manufacture is defined by the laws of Texas. Manufacturing cocaine includes the “production,” “labeling,” “preparation,” “packaging,” “propagation,” “creating,” “compounding,” “processing,” or “creating” a container of cocaine. Creation of cocaine may refer to creating cocaine from either a natural or chemical process.
- A cocaine manufacturing offense is punishable according to cocaine weight. The applicable punishments for manufacturing offenses are similar to those used in delivery offenses.
- If convicted of manufacturing under one gram of cocaine, the defendant faces 180 days – two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. If convicted of manufacturing 400+ grams of cocaine, the defendant faces 15 – 99 years in prison and/or a maximum $250,000 fine.
4. Enhancements to a Texas cocaine offense:
The defendant may face additional or enhanced penalties if 1) the cocaine-related crime occurred in exchange for money or 2) where the alleged crime took place, e.g. on school property, a property owned or leased by a higher education institution, within a thousand feet of property owned or leased by a school, or on a school transport vehicle or bus. These examples may result in an elevation of the felony offense by a degree as well as longer prison terms and/or increased fines.
Cocaine Offense Defenses in Texas
Typically, the evidence relating to a cocaine offense prosecution is derived from surveillance or law enforcement search activities. These activities are limited by the Texas state constitution and the United States Constitution:
- If law enforcement actions violate either state or federal laws, the evidence may be excluded for use in a criminal court.
- The law limits and protects citizens from unreasonable search activities by law enforcement. The law requires the law enforcement officer to present a state judge with sufficient evidence to establish probable cause before the judge issues a search warrant.
- There may be exceptions to the requirement, e.g. when an officer has evidence that drug or related evidence is being destroyed, in rare circumstances.
Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The Fourth Amendment requires that law enforcement have a reasonable suspicion that a defendant has committed, or is about to commit, or in the process of the commission of a crime before it can pull the defendant over. That is, law enforcement must possess something more than a hunch that criminal activity is occurring or about to occur before the defendant is stopped:
- Law enforcement must articulate evidence that gives supports probable cause before taking steps to search the defendant’s vehicle (unless he or she consents).
- Under this exclusionary doctrine, cocaine and/or related evidence obtained by illegal or unconstitutional activity may be excluded in a following criminal proceeding.
How the Government Ties a Defendant to Drugs
For instance, a defense may exist if law enforcement found cocaine in a vehicle or home with multiple occupants. The prosecution must prove that each of the defendants had joint “control,” “custody,” and “care” of the cocaine.
If Charged with a Cocaine Crime, You Need an Experienced Texas Drug Crimes Lawyer
Texas is known for its tough drug laws—and its stiff punishments for drug offenders. Because cocaine is viewed as such a debilitating drug, the potential stakes are even greater for the defendant. Whether you claim you’re innocent or admitting to possessing or selling cocaine, you need an experienced cocaine crimes attorney on your side to better the chances of a positive case outcome. Greg Tsioros has the experience you need now. Contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros in Houston at 832-752-5792 for an initial case review.