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Drug Penalties by Weight: Am I Going to Jail?

Posted on April 15, 2015 by Mintzer Law

In Texas, a person who is found to be in possession of drugs can face varying penalties based on the amount of drugs they have. These penalties are determined based on the type and weight of the drugs. For example, a small amount of marijuana may be classified as a misdemeanor but several pounds of marijuana may count as a felony crime. The penalties can also be increased for trafficking of drugs as opposed to simple drug possession. Trafficking large amounts of drugs may lead to federal felony charges.

Marijuana Penalties

ScaleOne of the most commonly used illegal drugs in Texas is marijuana. Although this drug is illegal at both the federal level and the state level in Texas, the penalties for marijuana compared to drugs like heroin and cocaine are somewhat less severe.

According to the Texas Penal Code, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana can be punished by:

  • Conviction on a Class B misdemeanor charge
  • Incarceration in jail for 180 days
  • A fine of up to $2,000

In Texas, if a first-time marijuana offender is found with less than one pound of marijuana and has no previous felony convictions, the judge must impose a penalty of drug treatment and probation.

Getting caught with four ounces or up to one pound of marijuana can lead to:

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

The penalties for selling or trafficking marijuana are more severe. For example, a defendant who is found guilty of selling 1/4 ounce or up to five pounds of marijuana may face:

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

Any of these penalties may be enhanced if the drug arrest happened in a school zone, if weapons were also confiscated or if the defendant has previous drug arrests.

Other Drug Penalties

Other drugs have more severe penalties associated with them. For example, simple possession of one to four grams of cocaine is a third degree felony. Attempting to traffic 28 to 279 grams of cocaine base can lead to:

  • Conviction on a federal felony charge
  • Incarceration in federal prison for five to 40 years
  • A fine of up to $5 million

Heroin-related crimes can have severe punishments as well. In Texas, simple possession of less than one gram of heroin is a state jail felony. Trafficking heroin can lead to federal charges. Trafficking between 100 and 999 grams of heroin can lead to:

  • Conviction on a federal felony charge
  • Incarceration in federal prison for five to 40 years
  • A fine of up to $5 million

Legal Defenses in Texas

It may be possible to defend against drug charges in a court of law. In many cases, first-time offenders who are convicted of simple possession of small amounts of drugs may be granted some leniency by the court. This leniency often comes in the form of the chance to attend a diversionary program instead of jail time. These programs combine drug rehabilitation with strict requirements to stay clean. If the rehab is completed successfully, the defendant may be allowed to avoid jail completely.

In some cases, minor marijuana offenders may be offered the chance to have their conviction expunged from their record. If they successfully complete a drug education and rehabilitation program as well as successfully completing probation, they may be eligible to have their record expunged once they reach the age of 18.

In some cases, courts may be willing to offer plea deals to non-violent, first-time drug offenders. This could mean reducing the length of a jail sentence or exchanging probation for jail time. If you have been arrested for a drug crime, then schedule your free legal consultation today by calling 713-862-8880.

 

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