Updated October 22, 2021; Original Post: February 2, 2018
There are three main things you can allegedly do to be charged with drug trafficking in Texas. It is critical that if you are facing a possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver or a delivery or manufacturing of a controlled substance, you must know what Texas drug law says about what the Sate of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt and what drug defenses are available to you to protect your freedom and clear your criminal record. In this post, we’ll explain all three ways you can be charged with drug manufacturing in depth, including the laws, penalties, and possible defenses to be considered for case strategy.
The first question you should ask if you been arrested for a drug case is: What kind of drug charge do I have? Is it mere possession? It is possession with intent to deliver? Is it manufacturing of a controlled substance? Delivery of a controlled substance? You need to know what you are facing.
If you have been arrested for possessing a large amount of drugs or selling drugs of any kind, you could be charged with the crime of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. If you were directly selling a controlled substance to someone, you could be facing a felony delivery of a controlled substance charge. Generally, the range of punishment for a felony delivery or manufacturing drug charge will be determined by the weight of the drugs. The heavier the total weight of the drug, the more serious and punitive the range of punishment will be for sentencing.
Additionally, if you are charged with possession of a drug with intent to deliver or delivery or manufacturing of a controlled substance and the incident took place in a Drug Free Zone, you could face even more punitive punishing ranges. For example, under Texas drug law, if you are charged in a drug free zone, your level of punishment will increase by one penalty range. For instance, if you were originally charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance under 1 gram, you would be facing a State Jail Felony, punishable by up to 2 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. However, if you were arrested for the same Possession of a Controlled Substance under 1 gram in a Drug Free Zone, you will now be facing the higher charge of a 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
The State of Texas’s Definition of Drug Trafficking
The Texas Controlled Substances Act defines drug trafficking as the intentional and knowing act of manufacturing or delivery of controlled substances. The act is a felony.
Controlled substances are divided into different penalty classes. The controlled substances in group 1 include the following:
If you intentionally or knowingly transport, distribute, or possess with an intent to distribute controlled substances, you can be charged. Those are the actions you can take or ways you can be charged with drug trafficking in Texas. Let’s look at each one in a bit more detail.
An individual knowingly transports drugs in a vehicle from one location to another.
If you are caught physically moving a large amount of illegal drugs from place to place, this is transporting, and is a type of drug trafficking.
An individual knowingly distributes drugs from one person to another.
You don’t have to be moving the controlled substances in a vehicle or actually going anywhere yourself to be charged. Transferring them from one person to another in any way is distribution, another way to engage in drug trafficking.
So if you were storing drugs in your apartment and then handed them over to someone else to sell, this is a form of distribution and therefore trafficking.
Possessing with the Intent to Distribute
The State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally or knowingly possessed drugs with the intent of distributing them to at least one other person.
Let’s say you’ve got those drugs in your apartment. You’re not moving them and no one has come over to pick them up. This could still net you a trafficking charge if you are found with the substance because it will be assumed that you intended to distribute it.
Regardless of which trafficking action you are being accused of committing, the consequences are quite severe.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking Charges
Under Texas law, penalties vary based on the amount of drug in possession. Here is a breakdown of the amounts and penalties for drugs in group 1.
Less than 1 gram
Third degree felony, punishable for two years to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Between 1 and 3.99 grams
Second degree felony, punishable for two to 20 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Between 4 and 199 grams
First degree felony, punishable for five to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Between 200 and 399 grams
First degree felony, punishable for 10 years to life in prison and a fine of $100,000.
Over 400 grams
First degree felony, punishable for 15 years to life in prison, and fines up to $250,000.
Penalties will be slightly different for controlled substances in other schedules, but they will still be based on the amount of drug in question.
Moreover, federal charges and penalties may apply in drug trafficking cases. Federal penalties are much more serious than state penalties. Prison sentences are tougher, and fines can reach into the millions.
Whether you are charged with a state or federal crime, you will face additional penalties for repeat offenses.
Should You Snitch For A Drug Dismissal?
What should you do if after being detained for possession, delivery or manufacturing of a controlled substance you are propositioned with an offer to “work off” your drug case by a narcotics agent? Be careful! These narcotics and drug agents are trained to tell you whatever they can to get you to cooperate with them.
They know you will feel desperate and overwhelmed with your current situation and they will play on your fears to make you feel like your life is over if you do not do what they are asking you to do. Understand that narcotics agents are trained to be professional manipulators of people to build drug cases.
Don’t agree to cooperate! Whatever you do, don’t do it! You must understand that the detective has no authority to get your drug case dismissed with the prosecutor and any promises they make to you are only as good as the authority they possess to follow through with their promise. In order to effectively cooperate in a drug investigation, your aggressive and experienced drug defense lawyer must negotiate directly with the prosecutor to outline the specifics of the result of your case before you decide to cooperate.
The best drug lawyers will know how to advise you on your present situation and ensure that your decision to cooperate with the narcotics agents benefits you and not hurts you. If cooperating is not necessary to your freedom, you should not do it! Don’t jump into an agreement without first consulting with an experienced drug lawyer first!
Defenses to Drug Trafficking Charges
You will need the help of a skilled drug crimes attorney to fight your charges. Here are several possible defenses that may be used in your case.
- The arresting officer did not follow protocol – the officer read you your Miranda rights prior to questioning you? If you were in custody and being actively interrogated, the narcotics officer is required to read you your Miranda rights and you must affirmatively waive those rights in order for your statements to be used against you in criminal court. Failure to follow this protocol, could result in your drug case being dismissed if the primary foundation of your drug case was based upon your statements.
- The evidence is invalid because a warrant was not used – perhaps a warrant was used but it was invalid. Your drug lawyer must get access to the search warrant affidavit and review it thoroughly. This is the most important document associated with the search warrant because the narcotics officer must lay out the specific facts establishing probable cause for the search. Many narcotics agents tend to use informants to develop their drug investigations. If a detective is relying primarily on an informant’s information to establish probable cause in the search warrant affidavit, your drug possession attorney may be able to challenge the warrant because narcotics agent is required to prove that the informant was both reliable and credible. If the agent is lazy and claims that the informant was used but fail to establish the reliability and credibility of the informant, the drug charge may be dismissed by the judge.
- The narcotics agent may have violated your rights by delaying you for a drug dog – it is common for traffic stops leading to a drug trafficking or possession arrest to involve a drug dog being used to establish probable cause for a search. What if you do not consent to a search but the police officer take 4 or 5 hours waiting for a drug dog? Your rights have been violated! Texas criminal law has established that the police can not unnecessarily delay you waiting for a drug dog. The longer you are waiting on the side of the road for a drug dog, the less likely it is that the search will be deemed legal.
- The amount of the drug in question is incorrect – if the alleged drug weight was improper, your drug lawyer may be able to get your drug case lowered to a lesser charge, providing you more options to resolve your case in a favorable manner.
- You did not knowingly or intentionally possess, transport, or distribute the drug – what if you were in a car with others who possessed a large amount of drugs and this large amount of illegal drugs leads to a possession with intent to deliver charge? Are you guilty? No! The state of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally or knowingly possessed the drugs with intent to deliver. Merely being present at the scene of a drug crime that you knew nothing about is not sufficient to prove the criminal intent necessary for a conviction. Make certain that your drug lawyer breaks down your set of facts to ensure the state of Texas can prove criminal intent – it is critical.
Your attorney will look at ways to reduce your charges or accept a plea bargain to minimize the impact on your future. It goes beyond the criminal penalties mentioned above, too. You may also have challenges in finding a job or housing, getting credit, or obtaining licenses. You can even lose custody of your children and your rights to possess a firearm. If the prosecutor will not be fair in the resolution of your drug case, you have a right to a jury trial to establish your innocence.
Because of these life-changing possibilities, it’s essential to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as charges are filed against you. Call us today for a free case review so we can work together to start building the strongest possible defense to your charges.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.