An arrest for possession of a controlled substance doesn’t mean your life is ruined, although if convicted, the penalties can be harsh.
Drug charges, for instance, can be dropped or reduced. Some reasons drug charges could be dropped include:
- Officer didn’t have a valid reason to stop you or search you, your home or vehicle.
- You didn’t freely or voluntarily give consent to search or the officer exceeded that consent.
- You can agree to cooperate with law enforcement and you and your attorney can carefully negotiate the charges with prosecutors.
- Possession can’t be proven by the officer. Drug charges must have evidence to support them.
Even if you are convicted, depending on the seriousness of the charge, it might not ruin your life. Not all charges, for instance, are felony charges.
Is possession of a controlled substance a felony?
A possession of a controlled substance charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. This depends on the type and amount of drug and intent. Usually amounts of 400 grams or more will constitute a felony.
Drug charges and penalties also vary from state to state. In Texas, drugs fall under different categories, and classifications, such as narcotics and stimulants, and carry penalties accordingly. At minimum, possession charges are Class A or B misdemeanors, with up to 1 year of jail time and $4,000 in fines.
Additionally, there are three main penalty groups, Penalty Groups 1, 2, and 3, and some drugs like opioids fall under two different penalty groups. Heroin, for instance, falls under Penalty Group 1, while other opioids not listed under that penalty group fall into Penalty Group 3.
Penalty Group 1 carries the severest punishments, with two years of minimum jail time and fines of $10,000 to a maximum of life and fines up to $250,000 for possession of 400 grams or more.
Marijuana, however, falls under its own penalty group. Possession of marijuana of 2 ounces or less at minimum results in probation and mandatory drug treatment, along with the possibility of 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.
What percentage of crimes are drug-related?
According to Bureau of Justice statistics, 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal prisoners reported they committed crimes to get money for drugs. About a quarter of all inmates in local jails, who had been convicted of property crimes, said they had committed their offense for money to buy drugs.
Additionally, FBI statistics show that almost 4% of all homicides are drug-related. As many as 70% of offenders on probation reported past drug use. Marijuana was the most commonly reported drug used.
What are the charges for possession of drugs?
While drug laws vary state to state, possession of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, drugs like ecstacy and in some states, including Texas, marijuana is still illegal. Depending on the amount possessed and the intent of use—either for personal use or to distribute—a person can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony. In some cases, federal charges can be brought up.
Penalties for such charges will also vary from state to state and on other convictions a person might have. If a person has several guilty convictions they could face a lifetime in either a state or federal prison.
Along with drugs like heroin or cocaine, prescription drugs are illegal to possess, use, and distribute if the person in possession of the the drug does not have a legal prescription from a licensed medical professional for that drug.
Because of an increase of illicit prescription drug use, especially of opiate-based painkillers, penalties in many states have increased.
In some states like Texas, it is also illegal to possess drug-related paraphernalia including scales to weigh drugs, drug purity testing equipment, any substance or material used to dilute a drug or packaging like baggies or balloons used to sell and distribute drugs.
What drug is considered a controlled substance?
Both illegal drugs and legal prescription drugs are controlled substances federally classified in five categories or schedules:
- Schedule I: Drugs in this category are considered to have no medical uses and potential for high abuse. Heroin and LSD fall into this category, as does marijuana, although the DEA is considering downgrading marijuana into a different schedule because potential for medical applications.
- Schedule II: These are drugs that have a high potential for abuse. Cocaine, methamphetamine, opium and controlled prescription drugs like morphine and oxycodone fall under this category.
- Schedule III: Drugs in this category tend to have less potential for abuse and more uses medically. In this category are drugs like anabolic steroids, painkillers like Vicodin and some products that contain codeine.
- Schedule IV: Includes primarily prescription drugs with wide medical use and a lower potential for abuse. Under this category are drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan.
- Schedule V: Primarily drugs with a wide medical use and low potential for abuse. Often drugs with small amounts of codeine in them are placed in this category.
Will a possession charge show up on a background check?
A possession charge, even a misdemeanor charge, if convicted, could show up on a background check, depending upon how extensive the background check is. Governmental background checks will often be more extensive than an employer’s background check.
In Texas, background checks fall under a “seven-year” rule, which keeps background check companies from reporting any conviction, felony or misdemeanor, older than seven years. There are exceptions to the rule. It doesn’t apply for employers offering salaries of $75,000 or more annually.
Other states with the seven-year rule in place are California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, and Washington.
If you have been charged and jailed for possession of a controlled substance, the professionals at Rodriguez Bail Bonds in Weslaco, TX. Give us a call if you need our help for this or other problems. You might also find our frequently asked bail questions useful regarding other issues of bail.