8 Common Texas Drug Crime Questions Answered
By: Mark Diaz
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8 Common Texas Drug Crime Questions Answered
Do I need a lawyer for simple drug possession?
You need a lawyer anytime you’re going into court. Every time you go to court on a criminal case, you’re dealing with a situation that could have an impact on you for the rest of your life. Possession of a drug is going to be a criminal offense so yes, you will need a lawyer to represent you.
What does a fifth-degree felony mean?
There is no such thing. We have a capital felony, first degree, second degree, third degree, and then we have a state jail felony, which is its own animal. It’s a range of punishment of not less than 180 days, nor more than two years in a state jail facility.
Can a drug charge be dropped?
Yes. Any case can later be dismissed for a variety of reasons. Can a drop of charge be dropped? I don’t know if you might also mean, can they be reduced? The answer there would again be yes, we have cases all the time where we get charges reduced, sometimes from a felony to a misdemeanor, sometimes from one degree of felony to a lesser degree of felony. The same way a case can be dismissed, charges can be lowered.
How long do drug charges stay on your record?
The answer is if you are convicted, then drug charges or any other charge will stay on your record indefinitely. Forever. So there are certain dispositions or outcomes that can happen in cases that don’t necessarily land you in the conviction realm. Now, if that’s the case, then your options open up a little bit more. We’ll talk about expunctions and things like that a little bit later. The short answer is if you’re convicted, it’s going to be there forever. There’s not a ton that an attorney can do for you, unfortunately.
Does having drugs in your system count as possession?
It’s actually not a terrible question. I think a lot of people think doing drugs is illegal, but technically speaking, it’s the possession part that gets you. Having drugs in your system does not count as possession. It has to be physically in your care, custody, or control which would not include in your digestive system. If there are drugs in your system, and you’re on bond, and you’re going to court, and a judge chooses to test you then that can be used against you to revoke your bond and/or make you sit in custody.
What is the most common drug offense in Texas?
The most common drug offense is going to be possession. If you compare it to manufacturing, delivery, possession is going to be the most common. As for the most common type of drug, it’s hard to say. For a while it was marijuana, but it’s not necessarily anymore, especially right now. It differs from area to area to area.
Certain areas are going to be more prevalent with methamphetamines, others with heroin, it just depends. It changes in each area, depending on what’s most available in that time period. For a while in Galveston, it was meth, meth, meth. Other times it was pills and opiates. We don’t see a lot of cocaine possession in the county anymore, not like we used to. Meth has sort of taken over what used to be a lot of cocaine cases. So it changes with what is popular on the streets.
Can you be charged for selling drugs in the past?
You cannot. Sort of. It kind of goes back to the question of ‘does having drugs in your system count as possession?’. Having sold drugs in the past, you cannot catch a state charge for that. However, many federal investigations involve conduct that people committed sometimes years ago, and are later charged as part of the conspiracy.
So you can be charged for selling drugs in the past if it was part of the federal investigation of a drug conspiracy. Many times federal agents will watch what they call a DTO, which means drug trafficking organization. They will investigate DTOs, sometimes for years to get as many people and as many drugs as they can in a particular federal charge.
So if you were in a drug trafficking organization, and we’re selling a year or two ago, yes, it’s possible that the feds could come after you. If the situation is six months ago you sold your cousin a dime bag of weed, no, you can’t be charged for that.
What does it mean to expunge your record of a drug crime?
Great question. For starters, it’s important to understand what an expunction is. It means the complete deletion of your past criminal record. You are not always eligible for expunction, which is why it is all the more important to have an experienced attorney handling your case. The outcome of your case will matter when it comes to whether you can expunge your record.
The law is really neat in this area because if you successfully expunge your record and a judge signs off on it, you can deny that you were ever arrested or that the incident happened at all. It is deleted for everybody, not even law enforcement can see it. These situations are going to be where you were acquitted at trial, or a certain waiting period has passed after a dismissal.
Essentially, and this is kind of a generalized explanation on when you’d be eligible, if you entered a plea, then you’re almost always not going to be eligible for an expunction. However, it doesn’t close you off to the potential of sealing your record. So there’s an expunction in Texas, which is the deletion of the record, and then there’s a non-disclosure. A nondisclosure operates a lot like an expunction, but the rights are not necessarily as great. So law enforcement can still see it, but private entities who are running your history or doing public record checks, are not going to be able to see it.
Of course, non-disclosure is a little bit easier to get than an expunction. Non-disclosure is going to be for people who have, let’s say, gone on deferred probation, completed it, and they can later apply to ask the court to seal that record, because they have paid their debt to society, etc. In a nutshell, it’s super advantageous. If you’re eligible, it’s important to get with an attorney and figure it out. This is something that almost nobody can do alone. It’s very technical, but it has a lot of really great collateral consequences if you’re eligible and able to get it done.
If You Are Facing Drug Crime Charges Contact Our Galveston Drug Crime Lawyers
Unless you have a pharmacology degree, you will probably have a tough time deciphering Texas’s drug crime laws. Found under Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, the provisions that govern drug possession are a complex maze of rules and regulations.
Related crimes include possession with intent to distribute, drug manufacturing, prescription drug crimes, and drug trafficking. Because drug possession is a serious crime that can result in life-changing penalties, it is absolutely imperative to work with a Texas criminal defense lawyer who understands the law in this area.