Texas has a reputation for being tough on drugs. Although the rest of the country may be loosening its laws on marijuana consumption, the Lone Star State remains steadfast in its restrictions on the popular hallucinogenic. The state is even harsher when it comes to possession of narcotics. If you have been charged with possession in Texas, you want to understand vice laws and find a good Fort Worth drug crimes attorney.
Texas Penalties for Drug Possession
Currently, an individual can go to jail for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana in the state. Possession of a small amount of narcotics carries a similar punishment. If you are caught with more than two ounces of pot or more, you may spend a year in jail and have to pay a $4000 fine. Possessing over five pounds of weed is considered a serious felony and can land you in jail for quite a while.
Possession of any amount cocaine or heroin is always considered a felony and may come with a jail sentence and fines of up to $100,000.
First Time Offenders
In spite of its intolerance for drugs, Texas does have several first-time offender programs, that are designed to give those accused of possession a second chance. The state’s “First Time Offender Felony Charge Act,” allows persons convicted of drug possession for the first time to attend rehabilitation programs or other counseling programs. Although these programs do not allow for drug charges to be dropped, depending on the county, you may be able to get them sealed.
The prospect of jail and exorbitant fines for possession are always a possibility in Texas. However, you may be able to get the charges dropped if the arresting officer did not do their job correctly or if the police violated your civil rights. There are a few things to be aware of if you think your rights may have been violated.
Illegal search and seizure
Texas is known for its independent spirit, but like all other states, it must comply with the Fourth amendment. A police officer must have a search warrant to search your home and probable cause to search your car. Officers must have a legally valid reason to stop you while operating a vehicle. For instance, if a police officer witnesses a traffic violation or believes that the vehicle matches the description of a car involved in a crime, they can stop you. They cannot use an arbitrary reason, such as race or appearance, as a basis for a stop.
Entrapment occurs when an officer has used coercive tactics to get you to commit a crime. Essentially, the officer cannot convince you to commit a crime that would not have otherwise taken place. If an undercover officer repeatedly asks you to hold some drugs for them or threatens to hurt you if you do not take drugs from them, and then arrests you, the entrapment defense applies.
Getting Charges Reduced
If you have been caught with a large amount of drugs, the DEA or local police may be more interested in where you got them, than they would be in incarcerating you. Although the charges are unlikely to be dropped, you may be able to get them reduced if you provide them with information. Trials are very expensive. If you confess to a lesser charge, law enforcement may be willing to accept your plea to save the expense of a trial.
Finding a Lawyer
When choosing a criminal defense lawyer in Texas, make sure to get one with a solid reputation and a keen knowledge of Texas drug law. Even if the charges can’t be dropped completely, a good attorney can get you a fair trial and let you get on with your life.