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What are Drug Crimes in Austin, Texas?

Certain substances and drugs in Texas have been deemed illegal because they are considered to have substantial potential for misuse, which can result in serious psychological or physical dependence in some individuals. As a result, drug crimes are committed in Austin when individuals or organizations illegally possess or consume any of the prohibited drugs or when they sell, transport, or distribute them.

Additionally, crimes perpetrated by drug users to earn money to purchase additional drugs, as well as acts committed while under the influence of drugs, may be classified as drug crimes in Austin.

Offenders may face drug-related charges such as:

  • Simple possession: A person is guilty of possessing a controlled substance if they knowingly or intentionally possess any controlled substance that has not been officially prescribed to them by a registered medical professional.
  • Possession with the intention of selling, manufacturing, or distributing: This offense is committed when an unauthorized individual possesses, transports, or manufactures a controlled substance or a counterfeit controlled substance with the intent to distribute it. This is essentially a drug-dealing offense.
  • Drug paraphernalia: This offense is charged when an individual is caught in possession of controlled substance-related materials. It generally includes any object or device that allows someone to use, trade, or manufacture an illegal substance. Pipes, bongs, and grinders linked with marijuana usage are examples, as are scales used to weigh substances.

The Texas Penal Code and the Texas Controlled Substances Act allow for exceptionally strict drug laws. Substantial fines, prison time, a driver's license suspension, and mandatory drug addiction treatment are all possible penalties for violating these laws. Convictions can also have a negative impact on an offender's career and employment prospects, their ability to live in certain areas, their reputation, and even their educational options.

Regardless, a drug crime charge does not guarantee that a defendant will be found guilty and sentenced. Instead, the law gives them the opportunity to state their case and potentially prove their innocence. As a result, with proper legal representation and preparation, charges against an individual may still be reduced or dismissed.

What are the Penalties for Drug Crimes in Austin, Texas?

Offenses involving restricted drugs are prosecuted seriously in Texas. They are punishable by fines, jail terms, probation, incarceration, property seizure, and court-ordered drug rehabilitation therapy, among other things. The severity of sanctions varies based on the drug's type, quantity, and the accused's criminal past.

Categories of controlled substances under Texas Laws include:

  • Group 1 Drugs: Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine are examples of substances in this category. The lowest charge for carrying a group 1 drug is a state felony, whereas the highest charge is a first-degree felony. The minimum sentence is two years in prison and a $10,000 fine; but, if the offender had 400 grams or more, the penalty might be increased to life imprisonment. 
  • Group 1A Drugs: This category includes drugs such as LSD and hallucinogens. The lowest charge for carrying a group 1A drug is a state felony, whereas the highest is a first-degree felony. The minimum punishment is two years in jail and a $10,000 fine, whereas the maximum punishment is life in prison and a $250,000 fine if the substance is more than 400 grams.
  • Group 2 Drugs: Ecstasy, PCP, and Mescaline are some examples of substances in this group. The lowest charge for possession of a substance in this group is a state felony, whereas the highest charge is a first-degree felony. A group 2 drug has a minimum punishment of two years in prison for possession of less than one gram and a maximum term of life imprisonment with penalties of up to $50,000 for possession of 400 grams or over.
  • Group 3 & 4 Drugs: Examples of drugs in this group include Valium, Ritalin, and numerous chemical compounds. The lowest charge for possessing group 3 & 4 drugs is a state felony, whereas the highest is a first-degree felony. The minimum punishment is one year in prison and/or a $4,000 fine, while the maximum punishment for possessing more than 400 grams of drugs in this category is life imprisonment with fines of up to $50,000.

In addition to these groupings, marijuana is classed as a distinct category that bears different penalties than the other groups. Possession of marijuana charges can vary from a Class B misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. On conviction, the penalty for marijuana possession can range from 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine to life in prison. If the offender was found with more than 50,000 pounds of marijuana, the associated fine is $50,000.

Cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and crystal meth are just a handful of the prohibited drugs frequently used in drug crimes in Austin. Along with the unlawful use, transportation, and manufacture of these illicit drugs, other crimes related to these activities include any property or violent crime performed while offenders are impaired, as well as any offenses conducted to obtain funds to purchase these drugs.

Between June 2017 and May 2018, law enforcement authorities in Austin, Travis County, reported a total of 1,689 possession of controlled substance (POCS) cases in which drug possession was the primary basis for arrest.

Austin Drug Crime Lawyer

Although drug accusations may appear minor at first, they can swiftly evolve into severe legal concerns with long-term consequences. Being charged with a drug crime may result in years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and a criminal record.
Consequently, those charged with these offenses are advised to retain the services of a professional and experienced criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable in state and municipal drug laws. The attorney will utilize their expertise and experience to carefully prepare for defense and ensure that the defendant’s rights are not violated.

How to Beat Drug Crime Charges in Austin, Texas

The defense attorney representing the defendant can assert several defenses during the trial to invoke a dismissal or reduced charges. Some of these defenses include:

  • Constitutional rights defense: The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens against unjustified government searches and seizures. If law enforcement authorities violated the defendant's fourth amendment rights during the investigation, all evidence acquired might be declared inadmissible. The lawyer can then contest the evidence and have it thrown out, resulting in the charges being reduced or dismissed.
  • Prescription defense: If the defense can offer evidence and corroborating testimony from medical professionals that the drugs found in the defendant's possession were prescribed medicines, the drug offense charges may be dropped.
  • Coercion defense: According to Texas law, individuals are not guilty of drug crime if they were coerced into it. As a result, if the defendant can demonstrate that they were forced into participating in a drug offense by threats of harm to themselves or their loved ones, the charges may be reduced or dismissed altogether.