In Texas and under federal law, drug manufacturing, possession, and distribution are all taken incredibly seriously. Both state and federal law enforcement agencies are focused on finding drugs and prosecuting anyone involved with their creation and sale. This means if you became mixed up with the wrong group of people or made a one-time mistake, you could face significant felony charges, punishable by costly fines and years in prison. If you or a loved one are facing a drug trafficking charge, it’s important to employ the skilled legal counsel of a Houston drug trafficking lawyer right away.
Once prosecutors bring state or federal drug trafficking charges against you, you are at the beginning of a long and difficult legal journey. The best way to get through it is to work with an experienced and tenacious Houston drug lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett. Your best chance of exonerating yourself in court or receiving the minimum punishments upon conviction is by working with an attorney who has a proven track record of success with both state and federal drug offenses.
For a free and confidential case consultation, call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 right away.
Drug Trafficking Under Texas Law
Under §481.112, otherwise known as The Texas Controlled Substances Act, drug trafficking is also known as the manufacturing or delivery of controlled substances. If you knowingly manufacture, deliver, or possess a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 with the intent to deliver it, then you may be convicted of a felony. Penalty Group 1 includes but is not limited to the following substances:
Drug trafficking of other controlled substances under Penalty Group 1A, which includes LSD, is prohibited under §481.1121. The probation on the manufacturing, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver of Penalty Group 2 and 2A is outlined in §481.113. This penalty group includes hallucinogens and marijuana. Trafficking of Penalty Groups 3 and 4 is barred by §481.114. These groups include compounds containing depressants and stimulants.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking Under Texas Law
The statutory penalties you face for drug trafficking under §481.112 are based on how much of the drug you allegedly had in your possession. The police will measure the amount of every controlled substance within your control, including its adulterants or dilutants. The total amount of every drug supposedly in your possession will be used to determine the level of the charge against you.
- Less than 1 gram is a state jail felony, punishable be a minimum of 180 days and up to 2 years in state jail, and a $10,000 fine.
- Between 1 and 3.99 grams is a second-degree felony carrying with it a punishment of 2 to 20 years’ incarceration, and a fine of $10,000.
- Between 4 and 199 grams is a first-degree felony, punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Between 200 and 399 grams is a first-degree felony, punishable by 10 years to life in prison, and a fine of $100,000.
- More than 400 grams is a first-degree felony, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, and fines up to $250,000.
The potential charges for distributing controlled substances in Groups 1A through Group 4 differ slightly from those in Group 1. However, the charges are still based on the amount of the drug(s) in your possession. State law creates differing amounts for the various groups to determine when you will be charged with a state jail, second-degree, or first-degree felony.
Federal Drug Trafficking Law
The penalties you face for a federal drug trafficking charge are much harsher than the penalties you’d face in a court in the state of Texas. Federal charges for drug trafficking are common, as this offense often includes bringing drugs into Texas from another state, or moving drugs across Texas state lines and into another state.
The Federal Controlled Substances Act ranks drugs in the following schedule:
- Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. These include marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, peyote, and heroin.
- Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse that could lead to physical and psychological dependence. These include cocaine, Vicodin, methamphetamine, OxyContin, Adderall, and Ritalin.
- Schedule III drugs have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence and include codeine-containing drugs, ketamine, and anabolic steroids. The potential for abuse of these drugs is less than Schedule I and II substances, but more than Schedule IV drugs.
- Schedule IV drugs have a low risk for dependence and low potential for abuse. These include Xanax, Valium, and Ambien.
- Schedule V drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs and consist of drugs containing certain quantities of certain narcotics.
If you are found manufacturing, delivering, distributing, or possessing a controlled substance, then you can be charged with a federal drug offense.
Penalties for Federal Drug Trafficking
The consequences of drug trafficking under federal law depend on:
- The drug in your possession
- The amount of the drug
- Your criminal record
For certain amounts of cocaine, cocaine base, fentanyl, heroin, LSD, meth, and PCP, a first offense leads to between 5 and 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million for an individual. A second offense may be punished by 10 years to life in prison, and fines up to $8 million for an individual. For organizations charged with drug trafficking, the maximum fines are significantly higher.
For larger quantities of the drugs listed above, a first offense leads to 10 years to life in prison with a fine up to $10 million for an individual. A second conviction is punishable 20 years to life in prison with a fine of up to $20 million if the crime was committed by an individual. For a third offense, you face life imprisonment and a $20 million fine.
For any amount of other Schedule I and II drugs not listed above, a first offense is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and a second offense is punishable by up to 30 years. You may be fined up to $1 million or up to $2 million, respectively.
For any amount of another Schedule III drug, a first offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison with a fine up to $500,000, and a second offense is punishable with up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million.
Any amount of another Schedule IV drug is punishable by no more than 5 years in prison with a fine up to $250,000, while a second offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $500,000 fine.
Any amount of all Schedule V drugs leads to prison for up to 1 year and a fine up to $100,000 for a first offense, or up to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000 for a second offense.
If Drug Trafficking Leads to Serious Bodily Injury or Death
If you are charged with drug trafficking under federal law and prosecutors have evidence that your actions lead to another person’s serious bodily injury or death, then you can expect to face much harsher punishments. For every type and amount of a drug, injuries and death increase the potential penalties, in most cases doubling the minimum term of imprisonment.
Collateral Consequences of a Drug Trafficking Conviction
If you are charged with drug trafficking under Texas or federal law, you can expect to face a number of collateral consequences, including to:
- Difficulty obtaining a job
- Difficulty continuing your education
- Difficulty obtaining financial aid, including grants and scholarships
- Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
- A reduction in or loss of child custody or visitation
- Denial of a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship application
- Loss of gun ownership rights
Defending Against Drug Trafficking Charges
If you have been charged with a drug trafficking offense under state or federal law, contact an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney immediately. These types of charges are serious and you need an aggressive lawyer who will protect your rights, prevent law enforcement over-reach, and build the strongest defense possible under the law.
In many situations, The Law Offices of Ned Barnett will immediately seek a dismissal of your case. Prosecutors need a great deal of evidence to bring about these types of cases. If we are confident that the state or federal prosecutors do not have enough evidence to convict you, we will fight for the judge to dismiss the case entirely.
If a judge allows the charges to move forward, some of the ways in which attorney Ned Barnett may be able to defend you include challenging:
- The constitutionality of the initial arrest
- The constitutionality of evidence, particularly information obtained without a valid warrant
- The relevancy of evidence
- The amount of the drug allegedly in your possession
- Whether you had the requisite possession or intent
Depending on the circumstances, we can discuss your legal options. While we may be confident in our chances at trial, we can also look at negotiating an acceptable plea bargain. This may be one way in which we can greatly minimize the consequences of a conviction.
Let a Federal Drug Trafficking Lawyer Help You
Whether you are facing Texas or federal drug charges for the first or a subsequent time, the best thing you can do for yourself is to work with attorney Ned Barnett from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett. With a lawyer by your side, you have someone whose full attention is on your case and whose motivation is to obtain the best possible outcome on your behalf.
For more information on your rights and legal options while facing drug trafficking charges, contact an attorney at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett online or by calling (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free and confidential case consultation.