As part of the “war on drugs,” the District Attorney’s Office for Tarrant County and the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department have begun focusing heavily on investigating and prosecuting drug-related crimes. If you believe you are under investigation for a drug crime or have already been arrested or charged, you should consult with a skilled drug crime lawyer immediately to discuss your options.
Drug convictions may not only result in prison time, fines, and parole but may also limit your ability to obtain government benefits, seek employment, attend school, and file for child custody or visitation. It is imperative that you seek the experienced and knowledgeable guidance of a Fort Worth drug crime lawyer who understands how to tailor a defense strategy to the unique facts of your case.
Trust the Skilled Drug Charges Lawyers at Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys to Protect Your Rights
As experienced drug crime lawyers, the legal team at Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys strives to provide all clients with a comprehensive and personalized approach to drug crimes and charges. This involves keeping clients fully informed and updated, analyzing the facts and evidence from every cognizable avenue, aggressively defending against all allegations, and ensuring that our clients’ constitutional rights are protected.
We have on our team several attorneys who worked as criminal prosecutors in Collin and Tarrant Counties. Over the years, we have gained a profound understanding of the Texas court system, the Texas Penal Code, and, most importantly – how Texas judges and juries approach testimony and evidence. This means we can devise the most effective defense strategy for you and improve your odds of getting positive results.
We offer all prospective clients a free initial consultation. Call Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys at (817) 877-3030 to learn about our unique style of representation and to discuss possible strategies and defenses.
Common Tarrant County Crimes Our Drug Charges Lawyers Handle
Drug crimes can be felonies or misdemeanors depending upon the activity, type of drug, and amount of drug. Drug crimes are classified into three categories: possession, delivery, and manufacturing. The Texas Penal Code defines the various drug crimes as follows:
- Possession: The knowing or intentional possession of a controlled substance. There are two types of possession: (1) actual possession– direct, physical possession, such as in the pocket or hand, and (2) constructive possession – the drugs are in a place that is under the custody and control of the individual, such as a home or car.
- Delivery: The knowing or intentional transfer of a controlled substance from one person to another. Delivery encompasses drug sales, trafficking, distribution, transfer, and gifts.
- Manufacturing: The growing, production, or preparation of a controlled substance. Manufacturing can involve simply harvesting marijuana, mixing chemicals, or purchasing or possessing chemicals commonly used to create controlled substances such as methamphetamine.
What Is a Controlled Substance Under Texas Law?
The Texas Controlled Substances Act of the Texas Health and Safety Code enumerates which drugs are banned in the state of Texas. In addition to controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, counterfeit substances are also illegal in Texas.
Drug paraphernalia includes tools used to sell, deliver, or consume drugs, such as pipes, bongs, or scales. Counterfeit substances are non-controlled substances that are disguised as and marketed as controlled substances.
Common controlled substances in Texas include street drugs such as:
Prescription medications can become controlled substances when the individual does not possess a valid prescription. These pharmaceutical drugs include:
- Painkillers such as Oxycontin
- Depressants such as Xanax
- Sleeping pills like Lunesta and Ambien
- Stimulants for ADHD like Adderall
Defending Against Texas Drug Crimes Requires a Drug Charges Lawyer with a Background in Possession, Delivery, and Manufacturing Defense
Drug crimes in Fort Worth are unfortunately often associated with 4th and 5th Amendment violations by the police and prosecutor. After working with the District Attorney’s Office, our attorneys have developed a keen eye for spotting constitutional issues involving illegal stops, pat-downs, and search warrants.
For assistance with determining whether your rights have been violated, call the legal professionals at Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys now at (817) 877-3030.
A Fort Worth Drug Crime Lawyer Must Understand Probable Cause as it Relates to Your TX Drug Charge
Anyone who has watched a police show on television or seen a movie has heard the term “probable cause.” However, it probably does not have a lot of impact on your life until you are facing criminal charges.
Of course, a legal standard as important as probable cause in the criminal justice system has undergone quite a bit of scrutiny. For example, in the federal court case, United States v. Christian, the accused high-stakes drug trafficker attempted to analyze each related fact individually to challenge whether there was probable cause to search his home.
Unfortunately, the court dismissed his challenge to the search warrant because that’s not how probable cause works. In fact, the Supreme Court of the United States expressly forbids what his legal team tried to do by evaluating each element of the grounds for the warrant line-by-line.
You may not be a drug criminal like the one in the Christian case, but law enforcement’s explanation of probable cause can still play a big role in the case filed against you.
Learn more here about probable cause and how the court determines whether there was sufficient probable cause in your case so that, together, we can build your strongest defense.
The Basics of Probable Cause
Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, you are protected as a citizen against unreasonable search and seizure. The Texas Constitution also protects you. To determine if law enforcement has the right to perform certain acts, the court must determine if probable cause exists.
The police are required to have probable cause before you are subjected to a valid search or seizure. Courts must interpret whether an arrest, detention, search, or seizure of people or property is supported by probable cause for the action to be valid.
What is Reasonable Cause?
In Texas, reasonable cause is a combination of circumstances and facts that lead a law enforcement officer to think that a crime is being committed or would be committed. One scenario is when the officer directly observes the circumstances or facts that lead to the arrest or search.
Probable cause is a vital element of any type of arrest, which is why it’s important to ensure that your Fourth Amendment rights have been upheld and probable cause has been established.
Probable Cause is Determined by the Court
There are typically three situations when probable cause comes into play: prior to making an arrest, after an arrest has been made, or after charges have been filed.
Prior to Making an Arrest
In some cases, police will obtain a warrant before making an arrest. If the court issues the warrant, the Fourth Amendment requirement involving probable cause is satisfied. In cases without a warrant, a judge will need to determine if probable cause existed in the case before the defendant was arrested based on the facts of the case.
After an Arrest Has Been Made
Probable cause hearings may occur the first time a defendant is in court before a judge after they’ve been arrested. In this hearing, a judge determines whether the arrest was supported by probable cause. If the court finds that probable cause was not established, then law enforcement cannot hold a defendant in custody.
After Charges Are Filed
Another type of probable cause hearing can occur after charges have been filed. In this situation, the judge hears testimony about whether a crime was committed. If the court decides that there was probable cause, then the case moves forward in the court system to trial.
In any case, probable cause hearings must occur at least 48 hours after an arrest, according to the United States Supreme Court.
Law enforcement cannot postpone a probable cause hearing for improper reasons, such as trying to find evidence to support the arrest. If the court deadline is not met, then a suspect is normally released.
How Does Probable Cause Relate to Drug Charges?
Drug charges are never to be taken lightly. In severe cases, a conviction can result in years in prison and extremely high fines. However, just as there are laws that regular people must follow to avoid being arrested and prosecuted, police officers have rules and regulations that must be obeyed as well. If this does not happen, your case can be dismissed.
This is exactly what happened recently in Houston, where more than 160 cases were dismissed due to faulty arrests and police corruption. Moreover, as ABC News describes, “Prosecutors expect more cases will be dismissed. Earlier Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declared that one of the individuals whose case was dismissed earlier this year…was innocent.” The unsurprising kicker — according to US News, the bulk of these 160 cases are “minorities and the majority are African American.”
The situation has stoked the flames of a social debate regarding:
- The care being given to accuracy in these cases.
- A question of police integrity
- And a demand for improvement from this legal mismanagement
Clearly, there is a reckoning going on right now over how law enforcement officers handle themselves and what it means to the validity of arrests, charges, and convictions. If you find yourself charged with possession of drugs, especially if you were subjected to police misconduct, you need a skilled drug crimes attorney to help get you out of the trouble you are in.
Why Do You Need an Experienced Drug Charges Lawyer?
First, dismissals based on police misconduct generally only make up a small percentage of overall cases. Despite police corruption getting big headlines, most cases simply do not involve it. Second, even if the police do “cheat” in your case — or simply make mistakes — that is not a guarantee that your charges will be dropped or dismissed.
Depending on the errors in question, the judge may consider certain defenses when looking at the bigger picture of your case. Or perhaps certain pieces of evidence may be disregarded during a trial, but other evidence may remain viable.
Overall, you still need to fight back because the potential drug crime penalties can be surprisingly serious — especially if the drugs in question fall into one of the more severe penalty groups. Thankfully, there are numerous other defenses available to you.
WHAT POTENTIAL DEFENSES CAN A FORT WORTH DRUG CHARGES LAWYER RAISE IN DRUG POSSESSION CASES?
Raising the best defenses for you against drug possession charges in Texas starts with knowing the law. A dedicated drug crime lawyer understands how the law works and what the prosecution must prove to convict you of the crime in question. Their job is to raise doubts about whether the drug charges fit your circumstances.
Some of the most common and successful defenses against Drug Possession charges include:
Not Your Drugs
There are all kinds of situations where the identity of the person in possession of the drugs can be questioned. For example, if you were at a party where drugs were present, or they were found in your car or apartment. A skilled Fort Worth criminal attorney will demand that prosecutors offer definitive proof that the drugs were yours and did not belong to another partygoer, car passenger, or houseguest.
The Item in Question Was Not Actually a Controlled Substance
This one may seem crazy, but people can be arrested for substances that look like illegal drugs even though they are not illegal. Do not assume that this is a simple error that will correct itself. If you were arrested or charged for possessing a substance that is not actually illegal, we can help you fight to make sure it is tested in a lab, and those results are admitted into evidence.
The Drugs are Missing
The state cannot convict you of a drug crime if they don’t have the drugs they say you possessed. Experienced lawyers will demand the drugs be presented in court because, more often than law enforcement would like to admit, drugs get lost somewhere along the evidence chain as they are moved from place to place.
There Was an Illegal Search and Seizure
This is the one type of police “misconduct” that does come up in a lot of cases. Essentially, there are specific procedures that must be followed by police when searching suspects, and these rules are often bent — if not broken — in drug possession cases.
For example, police can seize illicit substances that are in plain sight, for example, if you are smoking a joint in front of them. However, it is illegal for them to search the trunk of your car without your permission. The right to be free of illegal searches and seizures is protected under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
These are just a few of the possible defenses available to you. Your best defense will depend upon the specific circumstances of your case. Challenging the way you were treated by the police may be an option that makes sense, but if not, you may have other arguments.
If You Are Convicted of a Fort Worth Drug Crime, You Could Face Deportation
In past years, the President has signed an executive order to strengthen the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws targeting immigrants deemed to be a threat to public safety, particularly “aliens who engage in criminal conduct in the United States.”
Less than a month later, 680 arrests were made during raids within a single week, and 75 percent of the detainees had convictions – including convictions on drug-related offenses. U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio confirmed around the same time that ICE agents across Texas were conducting these targeted raids.
All of these drug raids fall under the ongoing domestic operation known as Operation Cross Check, which was originally intended to search for and apprehend undocumented immigrants who had been convicted of serious crimes.
Of course, “serious” is in the eye of the beholder.
If you or someone you care about is being unfairly deported because of a drug-related conviction, working with an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney is your first step in slowing what can seem like a runaway train.
In the meantime, read on for information regarding how deportation is handled when a drug crime conviction is involved.
Drug and Deportation Terms You Should Know
Combing through legal jargon for information you need when facing deportation due to a drug crime conviction can be difficult – particularly when it is in a language that may not be your first. So, before we get into the law and what can happen when it has been violated, here are the key terms most commonly included in these matters:
Alien. All non-citizens or non-nationals residing in a country, including but not limited to immigrants.
Immigrant. All aliens who have been granted the right to reside permanently and work without restrictions in a particular country.
Inadmissibility. Originally referred to as “excludability,” it is a set of grounds under which someone could be excluded from this country, including drug-related crimes and convictions.
Waiver of Inadmissibility. Forgives a crime for immigration purposes and allows the person to remain in the country, gain entry, or return to the U.S.
Basic Immigration Law in Texas
The Immigration and Nationality Act (Sections 212 and 237) provides details regarding those immigrants who are inadmissible into this country and/or qualify for deportation. Generally speaking, any immigrant who is a) determined to be a drug abuser or addict or b) has been convicted of a drug-related crime is inadmissible and/or eligible for deportation.
Four examples of grounds of inadmissibility:
- Immigrants with conviction(s) for violation of any law or regulation related to a controlled substance.
- Immigrants with multiple criminal convictions from offenses that arose from a single scheme of misconduct or multiple incidents and for which incarceration lasted five-plus years.
- Immigrants reasonably believed to be trafficking controlled substances or listed chemicals or who knowingly assisted or conspired with others to traffic them.
- Any immigrant spouse or child of an immigrant who is inadmissible due to anything listed above.
There are many additional grounds that can be indirectly linked to drug-related convictions and just as many exceptions to these guidelines. A knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney will be able to review your personal circumstances and guide you through the general classes of inadmissibility.
Removal Proceedings in Texas
Once you are accused of violating U.S. immigration laws, a removal process begins. First, the court system will schedule a date for you to appear before an immigration judge to determine whether you may remain in the country.
Then, you will receive a charging document or “Notice to Appear” stating why the Department of Homeland Security believes you have violated U.S. immigration laws. The date and time of your first hearing will be included or mailed separately.
From there, it becomes a bit more complex depending on your circumstances, but it can require as many as ten hearings. Note the following:
- The court does not appoint you a lawyer, but the judge will ask if you have one. If not, you may be granted additional time to locate an experienced criminal defense attorney.
- The court does provide an interpreter. If you do not understand your interpreter, tell the judge.
- You will be a) asked whether you received your charging document (or Notice to Appear) and b) required to enter a plea to each charge in that notice.
- If the judge finds you have violated immigration laws, you will need to tell that judge whether you are applying for relief from removal.
Keeping U.S. citizens safe is certainly a priority, but reports continue to surface that deportations are unfairly happening for even minor drug-related crimes and to people who were convicted years ago and have not committed another crime since.
Not every person convicted of a drug-related crime deserves to face deportation, and this is not a matter that should be handled in broad sweeps, but rather on a case-by-case basis. Regardless of officials’ intent, each person building a life in the U.S. has rights and is entitled to fair treatment – including you and your loved ones.
Call our drug crime lawyers now for help
We’ve helped hundreds of people in the Fort Worth area, and we can help you as well. We offer free consultations with our legal team, which will help you decide what to do next. Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys serves Fort Worth and Tarrant County areas.
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