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Drug Crimes

Texas Sentencing Guidelines for Drug Offenses

If you’ve spent even 5 minutes on Texas highways, you’ve probably seen signs that say “Don’t Mess With Texas” lining the roads. The slogan may be meant to deter littering, but as anyone who has been caught with illegal drugs and tried to make sense of Texas’ sentencing guidelines for drug offenses will tell you, the slogan might as well apply to Texas drug possession laws as well.

The sentencing guidelines for drug offenses applicable to you will vary according to what you’re caught with, how much you’re caught with, and where you were caught. That’s why the answer to “Is the possession of a controlled substance a misdemeanor or felony?” isn’t always straightforward. Regardless, punishment could range anywhere from probation to life imprisonment.

Before you take a risk, make sure you know the Texas drug laws of 2018 and have our number (214-741-4000) saved in your phone. We know the ins and outs of Texas’ sentencing guidelines for drug offenses, Texas’ controlled substance laws, Texas’ drug trafficking laws, and even the open container laws in Texas.

Texas sentencing guidelines for drug offenses: misdemeanors

Luckily, not all Texas drug possession laws require that drug possession be regarded as a felony. Rather, illegal drugs are broken up into different penalty groups ranging from 1-4 in the Texas sentencing guidelines for drug offenses, with group 1 carrying the most severe consequences, and group 4 carrying the least.

How long do you go to jail for selling drugs if you have a misdemeanor? In the State of Texas, possession of 28 grams or less of a drug from penalty group 3 or 4 is considered a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000.

According to the Texas sentencing guidelines for drug offenses, drugs in penalty group 3 include common prescription drugs like valium, Ritalin, Adderall, and Xanax among others. Penalty group 4 is a broader group that includes compounds containing Dionine, Motofen, Buprenorphine or Pyrovalerone. In addition to any associated fines, jail time, or probation, you may have to take part in a court-ordered substance abuse program as part of your sentencing.

One of the most frequent questions we get is “What happens when you get caught with weed in Texas?” Possession of marijuana falls into its own category. If you are caught with 2 ounces or less of Marijuana in Texas, you face a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. Any amount between 2 and 4 ounces of marijuana will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. While certain parts of Texas like Dallas and Harris County have adopted cite and release policies for low-level marijuana possession, the charges themselves are not downgraded, and must still be faced in court.

Texas sentencing guidelines for drug offenses: felonies

But having what amount of drugs is a felony in Texas? Texas’ sentencing guidelines for drug offenses state that any drug can result in a felony charge depending on the amount with which you’re caught, even if the drug is in penalty group 3 or 4. Let’s break it down.

Penalty groups 3 and 4
Drugs in penalty group 3 include common prescription drugs like valium, ritalin, adderall, and xanax among others. Penalty group 4 is a broader group that includes compounds containing Dionine, Motofen, Buprenorphine or Pyrovalerone. The penalties for possessing these drugs is as follows:

ChargeWeightPenalty
3rd-degree felony28-200 grams2-10 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
2nd-degree felony200-400 grams2-20 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
Enhanced 1st-degree felony400 grams or more5-99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000

These charges only reflect penalties for possession alone. If you’re breaking Texas’ drug trafficking laws or if you have illegal weapons on you at the time of your arrest, then your charges and penalties may be enhanced based on the specifics of your case.

Penalty group 2
Possession of any amount of drug within penalty group 2 will be charged as a felony. Some of the drugs in penalty group 2 include common hallucinogens or stimulants such as mescaline (peyote), psilocybin (mushrooms), MDMA (ecstacy and molly), certain amphetamines, and non-marijuana forms of cannabis like wax, hash, or dabs. The penalties for possessing drugs in penalty group 2 are as follows:

ChargeWeightPenalty
State jail felonyLess than 1 gram180 days-2 years in a state jail and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
3rd-degree felony1-4 grams2-10 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
2nd-degree felony4-400 grams2-20 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
Enhanced 1st-degree felony400 grams or more5-99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000

Penalty groups 1 and 1A
Texas places the drugs it considers the most dangerous in its top 2 penalty groups, 1 and 1A. Possession of any amount of these drugs is considered a felony. (For more information, read about what is considered a dangerous drug in Texas.) Penalty group 1A is specifically focused on LSD, otherwise known as acid. Penalty group 1 is more broad, and includes cocaine, GHB, ketamine, and opiates like heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone among others. The penalties for possessing drugs in penalty groups 1 and 1A are as follows:

Penalty group 1

ChargeWeightPenalty
State jail felonyLess than 1 gram180 days-2 years in a state jail and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
3rd-degree felony1-4 grams2-10 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
2nd-degree felony4-200 grams2-20 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
1st-degree felony200-400 grams5-99 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
Enhanced 1st-degree felony400 grams or more10-99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000

Penalty group 1A
Because of its potency and unconventional modes of distribution, the state of Texas puts LSD (acid) into its own very severe penalty group. The penalties for possessing LSD are as follows:

ChargeWeightPenalty
State jail felonyFewer than 20 units180 days-2 years in a state jail and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
3rd-degree felony20-80 units2-10 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
2nd-degree felony80-4,000 units2-20 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
1st-degree felony4,000-8,000 units5-99 years in state prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000
Enhanced 1st-degree felony8,000 units or more15-99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000

Sentencing guidelines for drug offenses: alternative sentencing

Even with Texas’ strict sentencing guidelines for drug offenses, not all convictions will end in jail time. Depending on your criminal history and the specifics of your case, you may be sentenced to probation, house arrest, monitoring via SCRAM bracelet, court-ordered substance abuse programs, and/or community service. (Wondering “How do SCRAM bracelets work?” Our blog has your back.) It’s also important to ask yourself, “What is the statute of limitations on a drug charge?” and see if the answer applies to your case.

Most importantly, avoiding jail time also depends a great deal on the quality of your attorney and the prosecutor’s willingness to accept plea deals in exchange for reduced sentencing.

Arrested for Drug Possession? Get Aggressive Defense on Your Side

Understanding the sentencing guidelines for drug offenses and fighting a drug possession charge on your own is incredibly difficult. The state is typically confident in their evidence, and no-nonsense sentencing guidelines make it risky to gamble with your legal representation.

Whether you’re charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, you need aggressive, knowledgeable defense in your corner. Combining extensive experience as both a criminal defense attorney and a Texas state prosecutor, Doug Wilder knows the ins and outs of Texas drug charges and puts that expertise to work to win his clients the best possible outcomes. Deeply knowledgeable and respectful, Doug and his team handle every case with the utmost in care and attention to detail.

Don’t risk the maximum penalty for your Texas drug possession charge. Call 214-741-4000 or fill out the form to schedule your free consultation today.

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