How to Fight Texas Drug Possession Charges

January 12, 2024 | By Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys
How to Fight Texas Drug Possession Charges
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If you or a loved one is in a situation where you're facing drug charges in Texas, you're likely wondering about the steps you can take to challenge these charges effectively. Here are a few key strategies for fighting Texas drug possession charges and the importance of seeking the right Fort Worth drug crimes attorney.

Table of Contents

Understanding Texas Drug Possession Laws

In Texas, drug possession laws are quite strict, and the penalties vary significantly based on the type and amount of the controlled substance involved.

These substances fall into different Penalty Groups (PG), each with its own set of penalties:

How to Fight Texas Drug Possession Charges
  • Penalty Group 1 (PG 1): Includes drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. The penalties range from a state jail felony for less than one gram (180 days to two years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000) to an enhanced first-degree felony for 400 grams or more (ten to 99 years or life and a fine up to $100,000)​​​​.
  • Penalty Group 1-A (PG 1-A): Specifically pertains to LSD, with penalties based on abuse units. They range from state jail felonies for fewer than 20 units to enhanced first-degree felonies for 8,000 units or more (15 to 99 years or life and a fine up to $250,000)​​​​.
  • Penalty Group 1-B (PG 1-B): The penalties here range from a third-degree felony for under one gram (two to ten years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000) to an enhanced first-degree felony for over 400 grams (20 to 99 years in prison or life, and a fine up to $500,000)​​.
  • Penalty Group 2 (PG 2): Includes drugs like MDMA (ecstasy), PCP, and mescaline. Penalties range from a state jail felony for less than one gram to an enhanced first-degree felony for 400 grams or more (five to 99 years in prison and/or a fine up to $50,000)​​​​.
  • Penalty Group 2-A (PG 2-A): Penalties range from a Class B misdemeanor for less than two ounces to an enhanced first-degree felony for 2,000 pounds or more (five to 99 years in prison or life, and a fine not to exceed $50,000)​​.
  • Penalty Group 3 (PG 3): Includes substances like Valium and Ritalin. Penalties range from a Class A misdemeanor for less than 28 grams to an enhanced first-degree felony for 400 grams or more (five to 99 years in prison or life and a fine not to exceed $50,000)​​​​.
  • Penalty Group 4 (PG 4): Includes compounds or mixtures with limited amounts of narcotics. Penalties range from a Class B misdemeanor for less than 28 grams to an enhanced first-degree felony for 400 grams or more (five to 99 years in prison or life and a fine not to exceed $50,000)​​​​.

The specifics of each drug possession case can significantly affect the penalties. Legal representation can help you understand how these laws apply to your case and any potential defenses available to you.

The Role of a Skilled Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer

The most important step is to consult a lawyer with experience in drug possession cases. A knowledgeable attorney can provide valuable guidance and representation. They will scrutinize every aspect of your case, from the legality of the search and seizure to the handling of the evidence.

Challenging the Evidence

Challenging the evidence in drug possession cases is a critical defense strategy, often significantly impacting the outcome.

Here are some ways to challenge different types of evidence and the potential consequences if successful:

  • Illegal Search and Seizure: Your lawyer can argue that the drugs were discovered during an illegal search, violating your Fourth Amendment rights. If the court agrees, the evidence can be inadmissible, meaning the prosecution can't use it against you in court. It can lead to the charges being reduced or even dismissed.
  • Chain of Custody Issues: The chain of custody refers to the documentation of who handled the evidence from when its discovery to its presentation in court. If there are gaps or inconsistencies in this chain, the integrity of the evidence can be questioned, potentially leading to its exclusion.
  • Lab Analysis Discrepancies: Sometimes, the substances seized are not what they initially appear to be. Your lawyer might request a reanalysis of the substance by an independent lab. The prosecution's case can be significantly weaker if the results differ from the original report.
  • Entrapment: The entrapment defense involves proving that law enforcement induced you to commit a crime you wouldn't have otherwise committed. If successful, it can result in the dismissal of the charges.
  • Witness Credibility: Your attorney might challenge the credibility of witnesses, including law enforcement officers, who testify about how the police obtained the evidence. It can create reasonable doubt about the legality and reliability of the evidence.

If these challenges to evidence succeed, it can lead to a range of outcomes, from a reduction in charges and penalties to a complete dismissal of the case. It underscores the importance of having a skilled Texas criminal defense lawyer who can effectively scrutinize and challenge the evidence in your case.

Exploring Defense Strategies

In defending against drug possession charges, your lawyer may use several other strategies depending on the specifics of your case:

  • Drugs Belonged to Someone Else: This defense asserts that the drugs found were not yours but belonged to another person. To use this defense effectively, your lawyer will need to provide evidence or credible testimony shifting the ownership of the drugs to someone else.
  • Lack of Knowledge: Here, the defense is that you were unaware of the drugs' presence. It can be applicable in scenarios where drugs were in a shared vehicle or living space. The challenge is to convincingly demonstrate that you did not know about the drugs being there.
  • Substance Was Not Illegal: In some cases, the substance in question may not be illegal. This defense requires an independent lab's retest of the substance to prove that it differs from the prosecution's claims.

Each of these defenses requires a different approach and type of evidence. A skilled Texas criminal defense lawyer will evaluate your situation to determine which defense is most applicable and what needs to be proven to establish it effectively.

Negotiating Plea Agreements

Negotiating Plea Agreements

Negotiating a plea agreement, also known as a plea bargain, is common in criminal justice, particularly drug possession cases. This process involves your attorney and the prosecutor reaching an agreement where you, the defendant, agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge or the original charge with a promise of a more lenient sentence.

The decision to seek a plea deal depends on several factors, including the strength of the evidence against you, the severity of the charges, and your circumstances.

A plea agreement can benefit you in several ways:

  • Reduced Charges: Your attorney may negotiate to reduce the charges, which can mean less severe penalties.
  • Predictable Outcome: Plea bargains provide a degree of certainty in an otherwise unpredictable process. You'll know your case's outcome without the risks of going to trial.
  • Less Severe Sentences: Instead of facing the maximum penalties, a plea deal can result in a lighter sentence. It might include shorter jail time, reduced fines, or alternative sentencing like drug treatment programs.
  • Expedited Process: Plea agreements often resolve cases faster than going to trial, reducing legal expenses and emotional stress.

To successfully negotiate a plea agreement, your lawyer will discuss with the prosecutor aspects like the nature of the offense, the strength of your defense, and any mitigating factors that might sway the case in your favor.

Your attorney will also ensure that you fully understand the implications of accepting a plea deal, including any possible consequences for your future.

Ultimately, whether to accept a plea deal is your decision. Your lawyer's role is to provide guidance, negotiate the best possible terms, and protect your rights throughout the process.

Preparing for Trial

Preparing for trial is the next step if you cannot reach a plea deal with the prosecutor.

Preparing for a drug possession trial involves several critical steps to ensure a strong defense:

  • Developing a Legal Strategy: Your lawyer will review all evidence, identify weaknesses in the prosecution's case, and develop a strategy tailored to your situation. This might include determining whether to challenge the legality of a search and seizure, question the handling of the evidence, or present an alibi.
  • Gathering Evidence: Collecting and examining evidence is crucial. This can involve obtaining police reports, lab results, surveillance footage, or witness statements. Your lawyer might also consult with experts to challenge the prosecution's evidence.
  • Preparing Testimonies: Your defense may include testimonies from witnesses who can support your case. Your lawyer will prepare these witnesses for what to expect in court and how to communicate their testimonies effectively.
  • Mock Trials: Your lawyer might conduct mock trials to prepare you and your witnesses for the actual trial. These practice sessions can help refine arguments, anticipate the prosecution's tactics, and improve witness testimonies.
  • Understanding Court Procedures: Your lawyer will explain the trial process, including jury selection, opening statements, witness examination, and closing arguments. Understanding these procedures can help reduce anxiety and prepare you for what to expect.
  • Arguing Motions: Before and during the trial, your lawyer may argue various motions to exclude certain evidence, request a change of venue, or ask for the case to be dismissed based on legal technicalities.
  • Presenting the Case in Court: During the trial, your lawyer will present your defense, cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and aim to create reasonable doubt in the jury's minds.
  • Closing Argument: In the closing argument, your lawyer will summarize the critical points of your defense and why the evidence (or lack thereof) should lead to a not-guilty verdict.

Throughout the trial, your lawyer will advocate for you and your rights, telling your side of the story. The goal is to present a compelling and persuasive case to the judge or jury, aiming for the best possible outcome.

The Importance of Acting Quickly

Acting quickly in response to drug possession charges in Texas is necessary for several reasons:

  • Preservation of Evidence: Over time, evidence that can be beneficial to your defense might be lost, destroyed, or become less reliable. Hiring a lawyer promptly ensures that important evidence is preserved and collected.
  • Witness Memories Fade: Witnesses' memories can become less accurate as time passes. Your lawyer can interview witnesses while their recollections are still fresh.
  • Pre-Trial Release and Bail Hearings: An early intervention by a lawyer can be vital in bail hearings, potentially resulting in more favorable bail conditions or even pre-trial release.
  • Early Assessment of the Case: Early involvement of legal counsel allows for a thorough assessment of the charges and evidence against you, leading to a more informed decision-making process regarding your defense strategy.
  • Preventing Incriminating Statements: Without legal advice, you might unknowingly make statements that can harm your case. A lawyer can guide you on what to say and what not to say.
  • Exploring All Legal Options: The sooner a lawyer is involved, the more time they have to explore all legal options, including negotiating plea deals or preparing for trial if necessary.
  • Legal Procedures and Deadlines: The legal system involves different procedures and deadlines. Missing these can have adverse effects on your case. A lawyer ensures compliance with all legal timelines and procedures.
  • Emotional and Psychological Support: Facing drug charges can be overwhelming. Having legal representation early provides legal support and peace of mind, knowing that a professional is advocating for your best interests.

Contact a Texas Drug Possession Lawyer

Confronting drug possession charges in Texas can indeed be an uphill battle. It's a situation that can feel overwhelming, but with the proper legal support, you're not alone in this battle. A Texas criminal defense lawyer can devise a strong defense strategy tailored to your case.

Every drug possession case carries its unique set of facts and circumstances. Whether scrutinizing the evidence presented, exploring possible defenses, or negotiating with prosecutors, a knowledgeable Fort Worth criminal defense attorney in Texas will assess every aspect of your case and determine how the Texas drug possession laws apply to it.

Remember, the stakes are high in drug possession cases, and the consequences of a conviction can be far-reaching, affecting your freedom, reputation, and future opportunities. This is why you need someone who understands the law, can anticipate the prosecution's tactics, and is committed to defending your rights.

By seeking legal counsel early, you ensure that a professional explores every possible avenue for your defense. From challenging evidence to negotiating plea deals or even taking the case to trial, your lawyer will be dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome.

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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