Drug laws in Texas are often harsh. There are many reasons, including this state’s proximity to several foreign countries that are points of origin for drug manufacturing and delivery. Sentencing for Texas drug crimes can be complicated, because it takes a number of factors into consideration. Houston criminal attorneys are familiar with the laws of possession of a controlled substance in Houston and do their best to make sure that people who are convicted of a drug crime in Texas are not unjustly punished.
Factors Considered in Sentencing Drug Offenders in Texas:
The type of drug involved is one consideration. Under the Texas Controlled Substances Act (“Act”), there are five penalty groups, of which Group 1 is generally the most serious. Under the Act, the drugs within each category are very clearly spelled out according to the different chemical forms of each substance. Someone defending you against a charge of possession of a controlled substance Houston should be familiar with all of the names and forms of the substances in each of these five groups.
Penalty Groups 1 and 1-A
Offenses concerning this group form the major part of the workload of Houston criminal defense attorneys who work with people charged with possession of a controlled substance Houston. Opiates fall into this group. Also, in Group 1 are opium derivatives, opium poppy or poppy straw, cocaine, Flunitrazepam (aka Rohypnol or “Date Rape Drug”), methamphetamine, phencyclidine, Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and ketamine.
Penalty Group 1-A
Lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD) is in a subgroup of its own.
Penalty Group 2
This group includes hallucinogens other than LSD. This group includes mescaline, Ibogaine, psilocybin, tetrahydrocannabinols apart from marihuana (the Texas spelling of marijuana), ephedrone and a dozens of other related substances. A savvy Criminal attorney Houston TX might be expected to have a working knowledge of these.
Penalty Group 3
This group includes CNS stimulants and depressants, barbiturates, peyote, narcotics, benzodiazepines and anabolic steroids. If you are charged with possession of a controlled substance Houston, your attorney would be meticulous in making sure you are not charged incorrectly for possessing a drug in a higher class.
Penalty Group 4
This is the least dangerous among the four groups and includes preparations containing small amounts of opium, codeine, dihydrocodeine, atropine or difenoxin.
Considerations other than class of drug:
Prison sentences and/or fines for drug possession will also vary with the amount of drug in possession. Those for larger quantities of drug will be correspondingly higher. A canny lawyer representing you on a charge of possession of a controlled substance Houston would want to know whether or not the amount of drug is accurately measured and documented.
The purpose for which the substance was used is sometimes taken into account when sentencing someone for possession of controlled substances in Houston. Manufacturing, delivering and possession with intent to distribute carry higher sentences than simple possession. Good criminal attorneys might find a way to challenge the prosecution’s case on this point.
The location where the violation took place is sometimes criterion used in determining sentencing for drug possession crimes. Penalties are often higher for offenses committed at or near a school or day care center. A Houston criminal attorney will be as knowledgeable about these crimes as he is the drug offense.
Another factor that contributes to the severity of a sentence for drug crime is whether the offense was committed at the same time as a different type of violation, such as conspiracy, theft or assault. Drug crimes are penalized more severely if they are related to a serious felony involving violence, for example. If you are charged for a combination of crimes, your lawyer would carefully scrutinize the prosecutor’s case on these counts and look for possible ways of challenging it.
Whether your Houston criminal defense attorney is a public defender or in private practice, there are certain common tasks he would consider performing, in order to increase the odds that you receive the justice to which you are entitled. These include:
Researching case law
Investigating the case and interviewing witnesses
Drafting, filing and arguing motions to either dismiss or suppress
Negotiate with prosecutors to have the charge reduced to a lesser crime
Represent the defendant in court