Getting caught with weed is no big deal these days, right? Times are changing, as are states’ marijuana laws. Well, most states. Actually, weed laws in Texas are still harsh, no matter the amount of marijuana you possess or are selling.
Before you take advantage of your next chance to get high, make sure you know what happens when you get caught with weed in Texas. Read more to learn about the weed laws in Texas, the penalties for selling vs. possession, and the diversion programs for first-time offenders.
Is weed legal in Texas?
No. Not even close. Getting caught with weed in Texas is a serious offense. In fact, for possession of under 2 ounces of weed in Texas you can be incarcerated for up to 180 days. That’s 6 months—half a year of your life—spent in jail.
What happens if you get caught with weed in Texas depends on the amount of marijuana with which you are caught. The amount matters for drug possession charges in Texas, but the same can be said of sales and delivery of marijuana. As the chart below demonstrates, both the mandatory minimum sentences and the potential fines can take up huge chunks of your time and money.
Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Texas
|Amount||Classification||Jail Time||Fine (Maximum)|
|Less than 2 oz.||Class B misdemeanor||180 days||$2,000|
|2 – 4 oz.||Class A misdemeanor||1 year||$4,000|
|1 – 5 lbs.||State jail felony*||180 days (minimum) - 2 years||$10,000|
|4 oz. – 5 lbs.||State jail felony||180 days (minimum) - 2 years||$10,000|
|5 – 50 lbs.||3rd degree felony||2 years (min.) - 10 years||$10,000|
|50 – 2,000 lbs.||2nd degree felony||2 years (min.) - 10 years||$10,000|
|+2,000 lbs.||1st degree felony||5 years (min.) - life in prison||$50,000|
*A state jail felony is unique to Texas. It was created to lower the rate of inmates in Texas prisons.
There is one major leniency program within Texas drug laws, and this is the use of DIVERT Court for first-time offenders, which we will discuss below. But don’t be fooled into thinking that getting caught with weed is no big deal. Without experienced legal help, the smallest misstep could potentially ruin your future.
What happens if I’ve been caught selling weed in Texas?
Penalties increase when you are caught selling marijuana. This is the case even if you’re caught giving a baggie to a friend as a gift “with no remuneration,” i.e. payment.
Penalties for the Sale of Marijuana in Texas
|Amount||Classification||Jail Time||Fine (Maximum)|
|.25 oz. or less (with no remuneration)||Class B misdemeanor||180 days||$2,000|
|.25 oz. or less (with remuneration)||Class A misdemeanor||1 year||$4,000|
|.25 oz. – 5 lbs.||State jail felony||180 days (minimum) – 2 years||$10,000|
|5 – 50 lbs.||2nd degree felony||2 years (min.) – 10 years||$10,000|
|50 – 2,000 lbs.||1st degree felony||5 years (min.) – life in prison||$10,000|
|+2,000 lbs.||Felony||10 years (min) – life in prison||$100,000|
As you can see, it doesn’t take much to be convicted of a felony if you’re selling marijuana. Penalties and fines increase again if you sell to minors and/or if you sell within 1,000 feet from a school. They can double when you’re caught selling within 300 feet of a drug-free zone.
Other notable drug-related penalties and fines
It’s important to know that getting caught with weed often occurs with other charges. For example, circumstances or lifestyle choices often result in some of the additional charges below:
Paraphernalia: You can be penalized for the possession (misdemeanor) or the sale and deliver (felony) of equipment used to take the drug i.e. marijuana pipe
Hash/Concentrates: The penalties for the possession, manufacturing, or delivery of hash and concentrates are also very strict. For example, you can be charged $10,000 for possession of less than 1 gram (.04 oz.).
Dangerous and/or prescription drugs: There are many drugs other than marijuana that are classified as dangerous. The Texas possession of a dangerous drug and sales of dangerous drugs come with their own set of penalties.
How is Dallas different? Understanding cite & release
What happens if you get caught with weed in Dallas, Texas? You might be surprised, Dallas is different from other Texas cities. In Dallas, if you’re caught with less than 4 oz. of weed, the police no longer have to take you to jail. Instead, you will be fingerprinted and then given a court summons. (Note that this is only the case for the city of Dallas and does not include surrounding areas, such as Plano, McKinney, Arlington or Fort Worth, for example.).
Cite and release allows you to avoid repercussions from surprise incarceration, such as having your car towed, losing your job, and not being able to pick up your kids. It helps police by reducing the number of times they have to run someone through the lengthy booking process.
Still, this doesn’t that mean getting caught with weed is something akin to a traffic ticket. For one, the police can still choose to take you in with less than 4 oz. of weed. Other extenuating circumstances can solidify or increase your chances of being taken in, such as whether your having weed is a parole violation in Texas, or if you’re also breaking the open container law. (Further reading: The Open Container Ticket Cost in Texas)
Additionally, you will still have to show up in court, and you may still incur jail time and fines. Cite and release hasn’t decriminalized marijuana, and the law is still going to penalize you for possessing or selling an illegal drug.
DIVERT Court: an option for first-time offenders
Despite the seriousness of the situation, getting caught with weed for the first time does mean that you have options in comparison to repeat offenders. DIVERT Court, which stands for Diversion and Expedition Rehabilitation and Treatment, is a rehabilitation program that lasts between 1 year to 18 months. These programs do require effort—participants don’t get to just sit around in a jail cell—and are focused on treating substance abuse. To qualify, an individual must:
- Be diagnosed with a substance abuse problem
- Be a first-time felony offender
- Be charged with a 3rd degree felony or a state jail felony
The individual’s treatment plan often requires participants to attend groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous and can include intensive inpatient or outpatient treatment for their substance abuse problem. If an individual completes the DIVERT program and remains arrest-free, their charge arrest will be expunged after two years.
What should I do if I’ve been caught with weed?
If you’ve been pulled over with weed, remain calm and be polite to the officers. Don’t give the officer any reason to be suspicious, leave the bong at home, and don’t ask them to sing Blueberry Yum Yum with you, even if you think they’re Ludacris fans, too.
Whatever you do, don’t try to get rid of the weed or eat it. That will land you in hot water faster than you can say 420. Comply with their instructions, but don’t say more than you have to. You are within your rights to refuse a search without a warrant. Most importantly, make sure you have the best legal defense on your side.
Caught with weed in Texas? Don’t put your future at risk.
If you’ve been arrested for possession or for the sale of weed, your life is about to get a lot more complicated. Getting caught with weed means that deadlines are going to come at you quick and fast, and you won’t want to have to navigate the often confusing criminal justice system alone.
Whether this is your first drug-related offense or you’re a repeat offender, it’s essential to have an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney who will fight for your future. The Wilder Firm will stand by you every step of the way. Don’t hesitate—set up your free consultation today.
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