How Texas Penalty Groups Impact Drug Possession Charges

May 26, 2019 | By Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys
How Texas Penalty Groups Impact Drug Possession Charges
How Texas Penalty Groups Impact Drug Possession Charges

According to the Texas Controlled Substances Act, when a prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally possessed or controlled the possession of illicit drugs without a valid prescription and not for medical use, you will likely be convicted on drug possession charges.

Generally, drugs are divided into five penalty groups – Penalty Groups 1 through 4, and a separate grouping for possession of marijuana appropriately deemed the “Marijuana Group.” Which group “your” substance falls into can impact the drug charges you face.

In this post, we outline which substances fall under each Texas drug penalty group, and how classification can affect your drug possession charges.

Penalty Group 1

When you are found guilty of possessing any controlled substance named within Penalty Group 1 in amounts greater than 399 grams, your penalties can range anywhere from two years jail time plus a $10,000 fine up to life in prison and fines maxing out at $250,000.

The group is generally thought of as the opioid group because it lists the most common opioids, opium derivatives, and other opiates. However, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, and a number of hallucinogens like LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline are also included here.

Penalty Group 2

Drugs classified under Penalty Group 2 actually have an even wider range of penalties associated with them, but generally require lower fines. Substances in this group can carry as little as 180 days for possession of one or more grams, while others can garner a life term plus a $50,000 fine.

Most common hallucinogenic substances are classified under the second group. MDMA (also known as Molly or Ecstasy), PCP (Angel Dust), hashish (which is derived from the more potent cannabis plant resin), and other cannabinols are all under this heading.

Penalty Groups 3 and 4

The penalties under groups 3 and 4 are similar, and are significantly reduced compared to the first and second groups. They range from a one-year minimum prison term and $4,000 in fines to about 20 years and $10k max. However, quantity levels are also lower – 200 grams will warrant charges as opposed to the 400 grams required for the first two groups.

Most pharmaceuticals are sentenced under either group 3 or four. Any opioids and opiates not falling under Penalty Group 1 are classified under either Group 3 or Group 4. Benzodiazepines and common sedatives (think Valium), anabolic steroids, and a wide range of other prescription medications such as Ritalin and chemical compounds that have a potential for abuse are included, too.

The Marijuana Penalty Group

Due to the rapid changes occurring in the way Texas views marijuana (cannabis), synthetic marijuana, and synthetic cannabinoids (like K2 and Spice), penalties for conviction on possession charges are all over the map.

At minimum, if charges are pressed, a small about of marijuana can have your driver’s license revoked for six months. On the other end of the spectrum, carrying more than two ounces can land you up to 10 years incarceration and fines ranging from $4,000 to $50k.

Often probation and mandatory drug treatment are tacked on to conviction sentences under this group. Of course, with ever-changing legislation in Texas Marijuana laws, by the time your case reaches the docket, there may be a potential to have your charges dropped altogether, depending on the circumstances surrounding it.

If you are facing charges for possession of a controlled substance not defined under one of these groups, reach out to an experienced Ft. Worth defense attorney to learn more.

Texas Drug Crime Penalties

Texas takes a hard-lined approach to drug possession, and penalties are some of the harshest in the nation. They vary widely depending upon type of drug, how much was found in your possession, how it was stored or concealed, and whether paraphernalia was present. If you have a criminal history involving drugs, your charges may be enhanced as well.

Working with a lawyer to put together the strongest possible defense strategy may literally be a life-saver.

About the Author:

Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.

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