By: Mark Diaz
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Weed May Be Legal Where You’re From, Not In Texas
Many states have decriminalized marijuana possession, but it is still illegal in Texas. If you are convicted of cannabis possession in Texas, you can face serious consequences. Learn more below and contact our Galveston County drug possession defense attorneys at Mark Diaz & Associates for legal assistance with your case.
Is Cannabis Legal In Texas?
No. If you are convicted of cannabis possession, you can get a jail sentence of up to 180 days even if you were carrying less than two ounces. So, carrying a small quantity of weed could sometimes put you in jail for up to six months.
Imagine being on vacation in Galveston and picked up for carrying a small amount of weed! This could turn your life upside down. While courts do not usually sentence people to the maximum, under the law, it is certainly possible.
The penalties for cannabis possession in Texas are as follows:
- Two ounces or less: This is a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000.
- Two to four ounces: This is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000.
- More than four ounces and up to five pounds: This is a state jail felony with a maximum sentence of two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- More than five and up to 50 pounds: This is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- More than 50 and up to 2,000 pounds: This is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- More than 2,000 pounds: This is a felony with a maximum sentence of up to 99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.
Possessing Marijuana Paraphernalia In Texas
It is also a crime to possess marijuana paraphernalia. The Texas statute says that many things can be considered drug paraphernalia, including vaporizers, bongs, and grinders. So if you are on vacation in Galveston and are charged with paraphernalia possession, you can still get yourself into some trouble.
What To Do If The Police Pull You Over For Cannabis Possession
One of the most common ways people are arrested for this charge is during a routine traffic stop in Galveston County. For example, the police officer might pull you over for speeding but smells or notices weed in the car. Here are a few tips if you are pulled over under these circumstances:
Do Not Keep Cannabis In Your Vehicle
This is stating the obvious, but the best way most people can avoid a cannabis possession charge in Texas is never to have it in your vehicle or on you. Whatever you think of the marijuana possession laws in Texas, you can be arrested whenever you leave your home with weed on you or in your vehicle.
Say As Little As Possible
When the police pull you over and you have cannabis in the vehicle, it is critical to watch what you say. One of the easiest ways to be put behind bars for possessing cannabis is to admit you have it in the vehicle.
Monitor Your Behavior
When you talk to a police officer, you should know how you behave. If you show any hint that you are under the influence of drugs, they can detain you further and possibly search your vehicle if they can establish probable cause to do so. If this occurs, anything not in plain view of the officer may and likely will be found.
Know Your Constitutional Rights
You have several rights under the US Constitution, including the right to remain silent and to be free of illegal searches and seizures. You also have a right to a lawyer, and you should take advantage of that right by calling a Galveston County cannabis possession attorney.
What About Medical Marijuana In Texas?
If cannabis possession is illegal in Texas, you can surely have medical marijuana, right? Wrong. Texas law does not allow medical marijuana except in limited situations that fall under the compassionate-use law. This exception will enable physicians to provide low-THC marijuana to patients with certain medical conditions. Low-THC cannabis prescriptions do not contain more than 1% THC.
There may be a change in this soon as the Texas House just passed a bill increasing the availability of medicinal marijuana as well as increasing the amount of THC allowed.
For your doctor to write you this prescription, there are several requirements:
- You must be a permanent resident of Texas. So, if you are on a Texas beach vacation from out of state, you cannot have medical marijuana in the state.
- Your physician complies with various registration requirements.
- You have a specific medical diagnosis, such as cancer, autism, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, or neurodegenerative disease.
- Your doctor says the risk of using low-THC marijuana is reasonable because of its potential benefits for your condition.
How To Fight A Cannabis Possession Charge In Texas
You should never take a cannabis possession charge lightly in Texas. Being convicted can lead to serious consequences in terms of jail time and fines. Plus, you will have a criminal record that can affect your ability to get or hold a job, rent an apartment, and more.
The first thing you should do after a cannabis possession arrest is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Galveston County. A lawyer in your corner specializing in drug possession charges will be a major asset. Contact your attorney as soon as you can after the arrest so they can build the best defense.
There are several strategies your attorney could use to combat a marijuana possession charge. However, every cannabis possession charge has unique aspects, so your attorney must approach it appropriately. Also, remember that the prosecutor must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and your attorney might argue that they did not do so.
Your attorney could also maintain that your person or vehicle was searched illegally. The police officer may not have probable cause to search; the Fourth Amendment protects you against illegal search and seizure. If that were the case, the evidence the police obtained during the search is inadmissible in court.
In many cannabis possession arrests, the police may not Mirandize the suspect correctly. Or, they could deny your right to see an attorney in the hours after the arrest.
Your lawyer also could dispute that you possessed the drugs. Prosecutors learn that possession of drugs means care, custody, and control. They also hold that possession could be constructive or actual, and two people can possess the drugs simultaneously. So, it can be difficult to persuade many prosecutors that you did not possess the drugs. But this does not mean a jury will not listen to such an argument.
Chain of custody is another potential argument for your criminal defense attorney. If your attorney can show the chain of custody was compromised, it is possible to get the evidence thrown out against you. Generally, your greatest chance of success here will be if there was an issue with the first or last part of the chain of custody. If that is the case then the judge might rule that the evidence is inadmissible before the trial begins.
Next, there could be an issue with the lab that analyzed the drugs found on you. Many drug laboratories have problems reporting errors, accreditation loss, and dry labbing. If there have been any issues with the drug labs analyzing drug samples from local police stops, your attorney will know about it.
Timelines also matter in these cases. If the prosecutor does not adhere to a strict timeline before and during the trial, your attorney will point it out. Overall, depending on the case’s particulars, your experienced cannabis possession defense attorney will devise the most vigorous defense.
Contact Our Galveston County Drug Possession Defense Attorneys
Many states have relaxed marijuana possession laws but Texas is not one of them. However, the evolving state of marijuana laws presents problems and there are sometimes questionable arrests and encounters with law enforcement. If you have been arrested on a cannabis possession charge, you need legal help today. Contact our Galveston County drug possession defense attorneys at Mark Diaz & Associates by calling (409) 515-6170.