Understanding Controlled Substance Laws in Texas

Being charged with possession of a controlled substance in Galveston, TX can cause serious damage to your record and may even lead to jail time.

The severity of the penalty depends on the amount of the substance you “allegedly” had in your possession at the time of arrest, and the group that the drug has been categorized into by the federal drug enforcement agency.

Drug “Penalty Groups”

Under Texas law, controlled substances are categorized in four broad penalty groups.

The groups are based on whether (i) the drug has a high potential for abuse and (2) the drug has any accepted medical use in the United States. Here’s a quick overview of the four penalty groups:

  • Substances categorized in Penalty Group I have a high potential for abuse and no known medical use in the U.S. This is generally considered the most “serious” group of the four. Examples include heroin and cocaine.
  • Substances categorized in Penalty Group II carry a high risk for potential abuse, but actually serve a medical purpose in the U.S. Examples include ecstasy and mushrooms.
  • Substances categorized in Penalty Group III carry a relatively low risk of potential abuse and serve common medical uses in the U.S. Examples include Xanax and Ritalin.
  • Substances categorized in Penalty Group IV are considered to have a low risk for potential abuse and are commonly used for medical purposes in the U.S. Examples include codeine and opium.

Texas Law Governing Possession of a Controlled Substance

Texas Health and Safety Code §§ 481.115 – 481.118 defines when someone can be charged with possession of a controlled substance. Under this statutory provision, you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance if you knowingly or intentionally possess any of the substances listed in Penalty Group I-IV without a valid prescription from a doctor.

If you are charged and convicted, the penalties for a possession vary depending on the Penalty Group. For example, someone convicted of possession of a controlled substance categorized in Penalty Group I may face a jail sentence between two and 20 years and/or a fine between $10,000 and $100,000, depending on the amount of the drug found to be in possession.

If, on the other hand, you are charged and convicted with possession of a controlled substance that is categorized in Penalty Group IV, you could be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor and serve up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. Once again, the larger amount of the drug found in your possession, the more severe the punishment.

In all four penalty groups, if you’re found to be in possession of 400 grams or more of a particular drug, you could face severe penalties including a jail term between five and 99 years.

Charged with a Drug Crime in Galveston?

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, you need an experienced advocate on your side. You need to be sure that the search of your person or property was legal and respected your Constitutional rights. Remember, the state has the burden of convicting you and must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you broke the law.

For more information, or if you need legal representation, contact the Galveston criminal defense attorney Tad Nelson immediately by phone at 409-765-5614.

Understanding Controlled Substance Laws in Texas