Though the penalties vary, all states have laws that govern controlled substances. Texas has some of the toughest laws in the country regarding controlled substances. Residents in this state may wonder what happens if they are charged with possession of controlled substances.
Overview of Texas drug laws
Texas classifies controlled substances into four groups of drugs. These include:
- Stimulants, which speed up the nervous system
- Depressants, which slow down the nervous system
- Narcotics, which are substances used to treat pain
- Hallucinogens, which are substances that alter a person’s perception of reality
Drug charges are divided into four penalty groups, one to four, based on addiction risk. Penalty group I includes substances with the highest addiction rates, such as cocaine and heroin, with no accepted medical use. Penalty group II includes substances such as mushrooms and PSP, which are less addictive but still dangerous. Penalty groups III and IV are the least addictive and include some used in legal prescriptions, such as codeine and morphine.
Penalties for possession
Possession means having an illegal substance on the person or willingly and knowingly being in control of the substance. A person charged with possession could face license suspension, hefty fines, probation, alternate probation and/or court-ordered drug treatment.
First offense possession of a gram or less of Group I and II includes penalties of up to a $10,000 fine and up to two years of jail. If a person is convicted of possession of more than 400 grams, the jail time could range from 10 to 99 years with up to a $50,000 fine. Enhanced penalties may apply for repeat offenses, for getting caught near a drug-free zone or for possession with a minor present.
A drug charge can get costly, but the prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly and willingly possessed the drugs. The defendant may be able to use some valid defenses to cast doubt on the prosecution, such as no knowledge of the substances or a legal prescription.