Have you been charged with a drug crime in Texas?
If you are faced with any of the following drug crimes, you must be informed of your rights under the law in order to avoid conviction and severe penalties:
- drug possession, marijuana possession, cocaine possession
- possession of chemicals for manufacturing drugs
- manufacture or cultivation of controlled substances
- dealing, delivery, importation, or transpiration of narcotics
- drug distribution, sales, or trafficking
Preventing Convictions for Drug Crimes in Texas Criminal Courts
The State of Texas and the Federal Government investigate and prosecute the same type of drug cases. The State Courts have always handled the small amount drug delivery and possession cases, and these cases are typically classified as State Jail or 3rd Degree felonies. However, large drug cases can wind up in a Texas Criminal Court or United States District Court, depending on which investigative agency has done the investigative work.
In the past, it was rare for a Harris County prosecutor to handle a multi-kilo drug case, but there is gold in such prosecutions, both in forfeitures and State and Federal grants. Many large DA’s offices now have special drug crimes prosecution divisions assigned to handle the larger cases. It is no longer uncommon to find the local District Attorney prosecuting cases involving as much as twenty kilos of cocaine.
In some respects, the State court is a more attractive forum for the accused. Unlike Federal Court, the State District Judge is not required to consult guidelines to determine the proper sentence. Also, in Texas an accused may submit punishment decisions to the Jury. This has proven particularly helpful when the accused is a mere courier or ancillary member of some conspiracy. As a result, we have succeeded in obtaining probation for clients in even large drug cases.
Strong Defense of Your Drug Charges
No matter the amount, defenses for drug cases generally fall into three categories: 1) The items seized weren’t illegal drugs, 2) The drugs were not “possessed” by the accused person, or 3) The drugs were seized as a result of a violation of the accused person’s constitutional or statutory rights. The latter defense is normally addressed through a pretrial motion to suppress, however in Texas a defendant can submit to the jury a factual dispute relating to a constitutional issue.
In Texas, drugs are classified in four penalty groups, penalty group one providing for the most punishment. Depending on the amount, simple possession of a drug in penalty group four or three may be a misdemeanor. Whatever the charge, conviction for a drug offense may carry with it collateral punishment, such as a driver’s license suspension.
Most of our clients come to us with far too much to lose than to accept a drug conviction. Even a deferred adjudication for a State Jail felony can remain on a person’s record for more than a decade. Employers are cautious about hiring people who have a history of drug use and it is now exceptionally easy to get such information from online criminal record sources.
Fighting Illegal Search and Seizure
We will investigate all aspects of a drug arrest to determine whether unlawful search and seizure procedures occurred. We believe that illegal search and seizure is a threat not only to our clients but to the liberty and privacy of all Americans. We are alert to violations of our client’s rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Where present, we move to suppress the evidence. Where there has been a confession, we investigate for duress and police failures to advise our clients of their rights to remain silent and to consult an attorney. Where undercover agents are involved we check for instances of illegal entrapment of our clients.
Forfeiture of Cash and Property in Drug Cases
Like all wars, the war on drugs harms combatants and innocents alike. A good example of this is the law that allows law enforcement agencies to seize money that they believed was gained from drug activity, or property that may have been used in drug activity. For example, the police can seize a car that contains trace amounts of a controlled substance.
Because the laws used to seize property are civil rather than criminal, the usual constitutional protections do not apply, including the presumption of innocence. If you want to get your property back, there are time limits and bonding procedures that must be followed.
Preserve Your Freedom, Avoid Jail Sentences in Federal Cases
The U. S. Attorney normally prosecutes cases investigated by the DEA and the FBI. Those agencies tend to focus on bigger cases, such as drug conspiracy and international trafficking. By the time a person becomes aware that he is a suspect he has often been the subject of an ongoing investigation for many months, even years. We advise and represent people in federal cases and grand jury proceedings.
When the stakes are high, put the defense team at Chernoff Law on your side in court. Contact our Houston law office for a strong defense against any drug crime charge.