What Are the Most Common Drug Charges Your Firm Handles?
In my 28 years of practicing law, one of the more common drug charges we’ve handled is prescription drug charges. Generally, that revolves around painkillers and similar substances. We see it get started innocently. People exchange medications with family members because a cousin has a back injury and has some hydrocodone leftover; they just give some to you.
That generally does not result in a criminal charge, but that’s how these things begin. We then see people falsifying prescriptions or doctor shopping—going from one doctor to the other to get prescriptions, trying to avoid the system finding out they’re misusing the painkillers. It’s a little more difficult now with a system that puts all the information together to identify people that are doctor shopping, but that was one kind of drug case we saw often.
The other charges we see is for methamphetamine. We don’t see as much with the harder drugs, more the everyday medications that get passed around.
In Denton County, What Determines If A Drug Charge Is Charged As A Misdemeanor Or Felony?
Usually, the level of a drug charge has to do with where the drug is listed in the schedule. In Texas code, you have schedule I through V. Generally, the seriousness of the drug and the amount determines whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense.
Other times, it’s not as much the substance or the amount, but the circumstances. Are you just using or are you selling? Generally, if you’re selling, or distributing—meaning you could be giving it away for free—that is a much more serious charge than if you’re just using it yourself.
In some cases, the charges are more serious because of the location where you’re distributing. If you’re distributing near a school, park, or other place where children gather, that’s going to be a more serious charge. These charges can also be enhanced if you have prior charges.
What Are Potential Sentences For Misdemeanor Or Felony Drug Convictions In Texas?
If charged with a first group felony, the potential penalty under state law has you facing 5 to 99 years, or life in prison, and a fine up to $10,000 per offense, per count. Second degree felonies are 2 to 20 years in prison with a $10,000 fine. Third degree felonies carry anything from 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. There’s also another variation on that, which is the state-jail felony, carrying anywhere from 6 months to 2 years in a state jail facility and a $10,000 fine.
Depending on where you fit on those series of punishment ranges is going to determine what you’re facing for penalties. Generally, first time offenders qualify for drug court, depending on whether they’re distributing or using. They usually get an opportunity to make it right on probation, possibly even deferred probation, if they qualify for that. Once you get a second or a third offense, you’re generally facing some prison time, anywhere within that range. Depending on the judge or jury you’re in front of will determine what your sentencing is going to be.
Is There Drug Court In Denton County Texas Area? Is This the Right Option For All Offenders?
Of the six counties that I generally practice in, the larger counties, Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, and Collin all have a drug court system.
What Are Potential Defenses That Can Be Used In Pilot Point Drug Cases?
As with any potential criminal defense, the state has the burden to prove you possessed the substance. They’re going to have to prove what the substance was, the amount involved, and that you didn’t have authorization to use it. Every one of these substances is called a controlled substance, not because the substance itself is illegal, it’s only illegal to have it without proper authorization or prescription.
To defend these cases, you have factual defenses. Did the defendant possess it? Did they possess it in the quantities that the state is alleging? Did they have it under the circumstances the state is alleging.
On the other hand, you also have procedural defenses. Did the officer have probable cause for stopping the person? Was there probable cause for searching them? How did they gather the evidence they have? If they didn’t do it properly, the court could suppress that evidence.