Possession of controlled substances can result in a stay in jail and a fine. Depending on the drug you had in your possession, you could be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence and owe thousands of dollars in fines. Knowing what you can expect if you’re arrested for drug possession in Texas can help you avoid mistakes that could make it more difficult to defend yourself against the criminal charges.

You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty

An arrest is not a conviction. However, there are mistakes that some people make that make it easier for the state to obtain a conviction. When they are arrested, they try to argue their way out of the arrest instead of remaining silent. 

It is best to remain calm, do not resist arrest, and stay quiet. Do not talk to the police other than to answer questions about your name and address. You are not required to answer any other questions.

Respectfully tell the officers that you are invoking your right to remain silent and that you want to speak to a drug crimes lawyer. Use your telephone call to call your lawyer or to ask a family member or friend to find a lawyer for you.

If you cannot afford an attorney, ask the judge to appoint a lawyer for you when you have your first hearing. Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your lawyer. 

Talking to friends or family members about the case could result in the state calling your family and friends as witnesses if your case goes to trial. The outcome of your case depends on the evidence the state has against you. Do not help the state by giving them another chance to gather evidence to use for a conviction. 

What is Drug Possession in Texas?

According to the Texas Penal Code, possession is the actual control, care, management, or custody of a controlled substance. Because the definition is broad, it allows police officers to arrest someone for drug possession even when they are in close proximity to the drug. 

For example, a police officer could arrest you for drug possession if you have drugs underneath your car seat or locked in the trunk of your car. You might not have actual possession of the drug, but the implication is that you control the drug because it is in your vehicle. Management could mean that you told a person to keep a drug for you while police officers searched you. 

What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession in Texas?

Texas has harsh penalties for drug possession. Depending on the type of drug in your possession, you could face up to 99 years in prison. 

The factors that impact the sentence you might face for drug possession are:

  • Type of controlled substances
  • Amount of the drug in your possession 
  • How the drugs were stored or concealed
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Prior criminal convictions

There are six schedules or groups of controlled substances. The Texas Controlled Substances Act categorizes controlled dangerous substances into groups. The group determines the penalty you could face for drug possession of any drug in that group. 

Group 1 consists of the most dangerous drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and opium. These drugs have a high risk of abuse and addiction. Therefore, the penalties for possessing a drug in Group 1 are harsher than the penalties for possessing drugs in Group 4, which is the lowest group.

Group 4 drugs have some medical benefits and a lower risk for abuse or addiction, such as morphine or compounds with small amounts of opium or codeine. 

The potential penalty for possessing just 1 gram of a Penalty Group 1 drug is up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you have between four and 200 grams of a Group 1 drug, you could face up to 20 years in prison. Over 200 grams of a Group 1 drug can result in up to 99 years in prison.

Are There Defenses to Drug Possession Charges?

You can work with a criminal defense attorney to develop a defense strategy based on the facts of your case. Potential defenses to a drug possession charge could include:

  • You were not in possession, control, management, or care of the controlled substance
  • The drugs bellowed to someone else, and you were not aware the drugs were present
  • There was a lack of chain of custody once the drugs were seized
  • Police officers seized the drugs during an illegal search
  • You were the victim of an illegal drug sting operation
  • There were errors or mistakes made while testing the substance in the lab

The state must prove each legal element of the criminal charges to obtain a conviction. However, do not rely on the state failing to make its case. You need to mount an aggressive defense to the criminal charges.