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Getting Busted with Pot in Texas Will Cost You.. Even if You’re a Minor

Posted on April 23, 2015 by Mintzer Law

marijuana possession

Getting caught with marijuana in Texas is a big deal. Texas arrests more people for marijuana possession each year than any other state in the U.S. Minors who are charged with marijuana-related offenses may face severe legal consequences. However, minors may be able to take advantage of legal defenses that can reduce the severity of these legal penalties.

Marijuana Penalties

The penalties for marijuana-related crimes can vary based on the amount of the drug involved in the case and the criminal history of the defendant. For example, a person who has no previous drug offenses may face less severe consequences compared to a person with multiple previous drug arrests. Also, the penalties for simple possession are usually less severe than the penalties for trafficking or selling marijuana.

Typically, a first-time marijuana offender who is charged with a simple possession offense can face:

  • Conviction on a Class B misdemeanor charge
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $2000

Getting caught with several ounces of pot can lead to tougher consequences. For example, a charge for possession of more than four ounces of marijuana but less than five pounds can be penalized with:

  • Conviction on a state jail felony charge
  • Incarceration in state jail for 180 days or up to two years
  • A fine of up to $10,000

A charge for possession of more than five pounds but less than 50 pounds of marijuana can be penalized by:

  • Conviction on a third degree felony charge
  • Two to 10 years in state prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000

Legal Leniency

In Texas, marijuana is in its own unique class of drugs. As such, it has a slight degree of leniency associated with it. For example, a person who is charged with possession of one pound or less of marijuana and who has no previous felony convictions must receive a sentence of probation and mandatory drug treatment. They may or may not be fined at the discretion of the judge.

Legal Defenses for Minors

Minors charged with marijuana possession who have no previous drug convictions may be able to take advantage of Texas laws to avoid jail time. For example, a first-time offender under the age of 18 may be ordered to attend a drug diversion program rather than be forced to serve a jail sentence. During this mandatory treatment program, the minor will be placed on probation and regularly drug tested.

If the minor successfully completes the drug treatment program and is discharged from probation, he or she may be eligible to have their criminal charge expunged. This means that the charge will not appear on their record in the future.

Avoiding a permanent criminal record and jail time is a possible outcome of a marijuana possession case where the amount of marijuana is small and the defendant does not have a criminal record.

Special Considerations

Several states have recently enacted laws that decriminalize or legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. However, Texas is not of those states. If a Texas resident legally obtains marijuana in another state, it is against the law to bring that marijuana back into Texas. Even if the owner of the marijuana has a valid medical marijuana card from another state, that card does not constitute a legal defense in Texas.

Any amount of marijuana, no matter how small, can be grounds for criminal charges. Even a bag of marijuana stems and seeds or a single joint can lead to arrest and formal charges.

Legal Defense Options

A strong legal defense may result in dropped or reduced charges by enrollment in a drug treatment program. By avoiding jail time and a criminal record, it is possible for minors to get past the stigma of a drug arrest.

If you’ve been caught with marijuana, you need aggressive defense to preserve your freedom. Contact Rand Mintzer today at (713) 862-8880 or email. We will fight hard to protect your rights and your future.

Photo by Brett Levin | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0