Facing a cocaine possession charge is a serious drug crime and holds the potential to ruin several aspects of your life. Your freedom, finances, and reputation will all be in jeopardy since Texas law mandates harsh penalties regardless of the amount. For this reason, you should not plead guilty to your charges before consulting with an experienced Houston cocaine possession lawyer. Even if you think your case is helpless, there may be paths to a positive resolution. A Houston drug attorney like Ned Barnett can help.
How is Cocaine Possession Defined in Texas?
Under the Texas Health & Safety Code section 481.000 and 481.115, it’s illegal to knowingly and intentionally possess cocaine, any cocaine compounds or derivatives, or coca leaves. This means that in order to convict you, a prosecutor must be able to show beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The substance you possessed was cocaine, contained cocaine, or was one of its derivatives or the actual plant (usually proved by a lab report)
- You knew of and intended to have this substance in your possession (usually proved through the context in which you were caught with the cocaine)
The law allows possession for those who might have a prescription for the medical use of cocaine, or for those who might be using it in the context of medical research. These exceptions almost never apply to Texas cocaine possession cases.
What Are the Penalties for Cocaine Possession in Texas?
The legal consequences that you’ll face will depend on the amount of cocaine found:
- 1 gram or less–State jail felony involving 180 days to 2 years in jail and $10,000 in fines
- 1 to 3.99 grams–Third-degree felony carrying a sentence of 2 to 10 years in jail and $10,000 in fines
- 4 to 199 grams–Second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines
- 200 to 399 grams— the First-degree felony carrying a 5 to 99-year prison sentence and $10,000 in fines
- More than 400 grams–Enhanced first degree felony with 10 to 99 years in prison and $100,000 in fines
While these criminal penalties are grim, they don’t tell the whole story of a cocaine possession conviction. In addition to fines and prison time, you may have to face the following collateral consequences:
- Paying court costs
- Attending court-ordered substance abuse programs at your own expense
- Severely limited employment prospects (your cocaine possession conviction will be visible in background checks, and you will be barred from exercising certain professions)
- Possible deportation for immigrants
- Negative effects on your child’s custody
- Inability to vote in public elections
- Revoked right to own firearms
Taken together, the effects of a Texas cocaine possession conviction are devastating. This is why it’s essential that you not plead guilty before consulting with a Houston cocaine possession lawyer. There may be ways for you to avoid all or some of these penalties.
How A Houston Cocaine Possession Lawyer Can Help?
When you retain the services of attorney Ned Barnett, rest assured that every possible avenue for defending against your cocaine possession charge will be explored. While each case is different, there are some common defenses to drug possession charges, including:
- Filing a motion to suppress–Your lawyer can ask the court to exclude any evidence that was obtained in violation of your rights. For example, if you got caught with cocaine during a traffic stop where the police did not have a valid reason for pulling you over, the cocaine cannot be used as evidence against you. Or if the police found cocaine after performing an illegal search of your property, the prosecutor cannot use it.
- Requesting the dismissal of the charges–If the motion to suppress succeeds, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence left to connect you with the crime. In that case, Attorney Barnett would file a motion to dismiss the cocaine possession charges.
- Proving reasonable doubt at trial–The jury will be instructed to acquit you if the prosecutor fails to prove every element of the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that if your lawyer can show that there is a reasonable possibility that you did not knowingly and intentionally possess cocaine, you may avoid a conviction. There are many plausible scenarios in which a person could unknowingly come into the possession of cocaine.
- Seeking enrollment in drug court–Instead of receiving a criminal conviction, some people accused of drug crimes may willfully undergo a year to a year and a half of drug court supervision. This will involve intensive counseling and regular drug testing. Drug court is not easy, nor is it available to everyone, but it is a good way of getting your life on track while avoiding the worst penalties of a cocaine possession conviction.
- Negotiating a beneficial plea deal–In some cases, pleading guilty may be your best option. But your lawyer can work with the prosecutor and the judge to obtain a relatively lenient sentence. Many factors, including the impression you make on the court, will determine what sort of plea arrangement you can obtain.
Attorney Ned Barnett has built his reputation on his ability to obtain favorable outcomes for clients facing serious criminal charges. He specializes in high-stakes legal situations where aggressive advocacy and strategic thinking are required.