By: Mark Diaz
Share This Post
Penalty Group 1 of Texas Controlled Substance Penalty Groups
Even if you do not have a legal background, you may be aware that federal law and the statutes in most US states establish a system for categorizing illegal drugs. Texas controlled substance penalty groups are the starting point for understanding how the state’s laws work. Every drug is classified into these groups, including:
- Familiar illegal drugs like cocaine, marijuana, crystal meth, and heroin
- Prescription drugs
- The associated compounds used to manufacture controlled substances
Texas Drug Laws Overview
Generally speaking, Texas drug laws are based upon how the controlled substance is categorized into a penalty group and the amount linked to the unlawful activity. If you were arrested for a crime involving Penalty Group 1, you should be aware that this class is on the high end in terms of severity. Every offense related to these controlled substances is a felony, so sentencing for a conviction could mean long prison sentences, astronomical fines, and significant collateral consequences.
Still, there are many stages along the timeline of a criminal case between an arrest and a conviction. You may have a defense or other strategy at any point throughout the process, and a Texas drug crime lawyer will ensure to take advantage of every opportunity. In addition, an overview of Penalty Group 1 of Texas controlled substance penalty groups is informative.
Summary of the Texas Penalty Group System
In all, there are four penalty groups and two subgroups for classifying controlled substances. There are two basic criteria for placing drugs in certain categories:
- The extent to which the controlled substance is likely to cause abuse and/or addiction.
- Whether the drug has a use in the medical field.
Balancing these two factors is how a controlled substance makes its way into a penalty group. As such:
- Penalty Group 1, 1-A, and 1-B include drugs that are the most likely to lead to addiction and mostly have no accepted use for medical treatment.
- Controlled substances in Penalty Group 2 and 2-A are not as dangerous and may have limited application in medicine.
- Penalty Group 3 is comprised of drugs that may cause addiction or abuse, but there is increased recognition for use by medical professionals.
- There are many prescription and some over-the-counter drugs in Penalty Group 4. This category includes controlled substances that cause minimal addition but are appropriate for treatment.
Note that marijuana is in a separate penalty group, but it is still a controlled substance. While other states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, Texas has not taken this step. The state DOES allow medical marijuana under very limited circumstances. The penalties for crimes related to marijuana are less severe compared to other above referenced drugs, though life in prison is still a possibility if convicted.
Basics of Penalty Group 1 Drugs
Knowing that this category includes controlled substances that lawmakers consider the most dangerous and sometimes useless for medical treatment, you can probably guess the drugs falling in Penalty Group 1. Felony charges apply to illegal activities involving:
- Many others
The statute also applies to preparations, salts, compounds, esters, and other forms that are the equivalent of substances appearing in Penalty Group 1. For purposes of charging a defendant, officials will include the entire contraband in assessing the amount – so even substances that are NOT illegal could count towards the weight.
Controlled substances in Penalty Groups 1-A and 1-B are still considered addictive and have no medical purpose, but they are separate categories. There is one drug in each: Penalty Group 1-A is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and Penalty Group 1-B is fentanyl and its derivations. Part of the reason that there are breakout groups is that these drugs are handled in terms of dose, while most other controlled substances work according to weight.
Drug Crimes Related to Penalty Group 1
The first aspect of an offense involves the type and weight of the controlled substance, while the second factor is the type of unlawful conduct related to it. Texas designates three drug crimes related to the drugs in Penalty Group 1:
Possession: To obtain a conviction for possession of drugs, the government must prove that you intentionally/knowingly possessed (or in other words, had care, custody, control over the item) over a controlled substance.
Trafficking: If you knowingly deliver, sell, buy, or conduct a transaction for some item of value, you could be charged with drug trafficking.
Manufacturing: The prosecutor must have evidence showing that you produced, cultivated, processed, stored, or otherwise played a role in creating a controlled substance with the intent to deliver it to someone else.
When applied to controlled substances in Penalty Group 1, possession, trafficking, and manufacturing are charged based upon the following weights:
- It is a state jail felony when the amount is less than 1 gram.
- You face third-degree felony charges for between 1 and 4 grams of the drugs.
- For 4 to 200 grams of a Penalty Group 1 drug, you could be charged with a second-degree felony.
- You face a first-degree felony for possessing, trafficking, or manufacturing between 200 and 400 grams.
- Enhanced first-degree felony charges apply when the controlled substance weighs 400 grams or more.
Penalties for Penalty Group 1 Convictions
If the prosecutor is successful in proving the elements of possession, trafficking, or manufacturing controlled substances, sentencing will be according to the felony level of the offense:
- If convicted of a state jail felony, you face 180 days to 2 years’ incarceration.
- A third-degree felony conviction is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.
- For a second-degree felony, the punishment range is 2 to 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted.
- If you face first-degree felony charges, a conviction could lead to life in prison or 5 to 99 years’ incarceration.
The lowest figure in the punishment range is the mandatory minimum. The judge is required to order this sentence but could opt for harsher penalties up to the maximum period of incarceration. Aggravated circumstances, the location of the offense, and other factors could lead the court to sentence the top prison term.
In addition, for all felony convictions, the court may issue a fine from $10,000 to $250,000.
Timeline of a Texas Drug Crimes Case
When facing these serious, life-changing punishments for a conviction, you know that it is critical to leverage all defense possibilities. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and the evidence, you may have multiple options. Your Texas drug crime lawyer will pursue all alternatives at the most opportune moments, so a synopsis of the chronology is helpful.
Arraignment: Whether you were arrested by police or indicted for drug offenses by a grand jury, your first appearance is the arraignment. Your attorney will be at your side to help with entering a plea, as well as working out the details of your pretrial release on bond.
Pretrial Proceedings and Motions: This phase of the criminal process is your chance to file motions related to evidence and your defenses. For instance, if you were subjected to unlawful search and seizure by police, you might file a motion to suppress all evidence stemming from the misconduct. If successful, the prosecutor may not have sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for possession, trafficking, or manufacturing Penalty Group 1 drugs.
In addition, the pretrial stages of a criminal case are a good opportunity to discuss potential plea bargains with the prosecution. You could benefit from having the charges reduced, the penalties lowered, or both. Some defendants may qualify for drug court if the county where your charges are has a drug court program, which focuses on treatment for substance abuse rather than incarceration.
Trial: There may be defenses available at trial, and drug crime cases often incorporate issues about entrapment by officials. Your Texas drug crime lawyer will advocate for you at trial by:
- Formulating solid opening and closing arguments
- Attacking the government’s evidence and aggressively cross-examining witnesses
- Presenting information on defenses
- Discrediting state’s witnesses, including lab technicians/experts and police officers
- Representing you at the sentencing hearing if you are convicted of violating Texas drug laws
Discuss Defense Options with a Galveston County Drug Crimes Attorney
As you can see, possession, manufacturing, and trafficking charges related to Penalty Group 1 of Texas controlled substance penalty groups involve serious charges and harsh punishment. Knowing that you could spend the rest of your life behind bars should motivate you to retain skilled legal representation.
For more information on potential defense strategies for controlled substance charges, please contact criminal defense attorney Mark Diaz at 409-515-6170. Our firm serves individuals in greater Houston and throughout Galveston County, so we are happy to set up a free consultation. After assessing your situation, a Texas drug crime lawyer can advise you on options for fighting the charges.
Mark Diaz & Associates is a Criminal Defense Law Firm in Galveston, Texas representing clients throughout Galveston, Chambers and Harris Counties including but not limited to Tiki Island, Jamaica Beach, Texas City, League City, Alvin, Algoa, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, La Marque, Bayou Vista, Bacliff, San Leon, Dickinson, Kemah, Bolivar Peninsula, Clear Lake Shores, and Friendswood.