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Arlington Drug Charges Attorney: Strategies to Overcome a Drug Charge in Texas


Were you detained on a drug charge in Arlington or nearby areas of Tarrant County, Texas? If so, like many of our clients, you might be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what lies ahead after your release from jail. This guide is created with the intent to support you in making wise choices concerning your substance-related criminal defense.

It’s entirely normal to experience fear and frustration. Fear of losing your employment. Fear of ending up behind bars. Fear that this drug arrest will haunt you for life. Your frustration might drive you to seek clarity and answers from online resources such as Google.

We’ve assembled this guide, “Strategies to Overcome a Drug Charge in Texas,” to offer you the assurance that with a competent Arlington substance attorney and a well-thought-out strategy for your substance-related defense, you can remain hopeful about preserving your freedom and reclaiming your life.

Initially, we need to discuss some fundamental details about drug-related crimes under Texas law. Then, I’ll share an anecdote about a previous client I represented in a drug case. Their experience could provide valuable insights to aid you in your quest to prevail in your Texas drug case. Let’s first scrutinize a summary of Texas drug laws:

  • Marijuana Possession
  • Marijuana Possession under 2 ounces
  • Marijuana Possession 2 ounces – 4 ounces
  • Marijuana Possession 4 ounces – 5 pounds
  • Marijuana Possession 5 pounds – 50 pounds
  • Marijuana Possession 50 – 2000 pounds
  • Marijuana Possession exceeding 2000 pounds
  • Dangerous Drug Possession (Misdemeanor)
  • Controlled Substance Possession – PG1
  • Controlled Substances Possession under 1 gram
  • Controlled Substance Possession 1 gram – 4 grams
  • Controlled Substance Possession 4 grams – 200 grams
  • Controlled Substance Possession 200 grams – 400 grams
  • Controlled Substance Possession – PG2
  • Possession of controlled substance under 2 ounces
  • Possession of controlled substance under 1 gram
  • Possession of controlled substance under 1 gram –Drug Free Zone
  • Possession of controlled substance under 1 gram
  • Possession of controlled substance 1 gram < 4 grams
  • Possession of controlled substance 4 <200 grams
  • Possession of controlled substance (PG3)
  • Possession of controlled substance under 28 grams
  • Possession of controlled substance 28 – 200 grams
  • Possession of controlled substance 200 – 400g
  • Possession of controlled substance exceeding 400g
  • Possession of controlled substance (PG4)
  • Possession of controlled substance under 28 grams
  • Possession of controlled substance 28-200 grams
  • Possession of controlled substance 200 – 400g
  • Possession of controlled substance over 400g
  • Manufacturing/Delivery of a Controlled Substance

Some years back, I got a distressing late-night call from the parents of a young man, who had been detained for drug possession in Arlington, Texas. The parents were incredibly upset and in disbelief that their son had been taken into custody on a drug charge. This was his first drug-related arrest, and he had no criminal record prior to this.

I found out that this young man, along with some friends, was pulled over by a Arlington police officer citing a traffic infraction. Upon approaching the car, the officer purportedly smelled the scent of burnt marijuana, which led him to inspect the vehicle. Post-inspection, drugs were discovered, leading to the arrest of everyone in the vehicle on charges of controlled substance possession. The young man, who I will refer to as Patrick, was then taken to jail, and en route, the officer questioned his association with his co-passengers and admonished him for not knowing better.

Patrick’s parents were extremely worried and eager to expedite their son’s release from jail. I explained that Patrick would be moved to the Tarrant County Corrections Center at 100 North Lamar Street in Downtown Arlington for processing and arraignment. Following his arraignment, a bond would be set, and then we could initiate the process of posting his bond and securing his release.

Once the bond was posted, Patrick visited my office. Still reeling from his time in the Tarrant County jail, he was filled with concerns: he was apprehensive about returning to jail, worried about being labeled a felon, and distressed about the potential impact of a felony drug arrest on his future career and life goals. He had one burning question…

Now That I’m Facing a Drug Charge, Is My Life Ruined? How Grave Are My Charges?

I noticed that Patrick was visibly unnerved and anxious about the impending situation. I assured him that his future wasn’t devoid of hope and that if his case was managed appropriately, he could look forward to positive outcomes. Patrick was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance under 1 gram – a State Jail Felony, punishable by a maximum of 2 years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Patrick had two primary apprehensions: (1) He wanted to avoid going back to jail; (2) He desired a way to expunge this arrest and charge from his criminal record. I assured him that I believed we could accomplish both.

What If The Drugs Weren’t Mine? If the Drugs Belonged to Someone Else, Will My Case Be Dismissed?

Patrick posed an excellent question that necessitated a look at the Texas Penal Code for the answer. I clarified that to establish possession of a controlled substance, proof of “ownership” is not required. Simply put, the law isn’t concerned about who owns the drugs. It requires definitive proof beyond a reasonable doubt of who POSSESSED the drugs. Patrick appeared confused – what’s the difference?

How Is “Possession” Determined? What Must The Prosecution Prove?

I further clarified to Patrick that under Texas law, the State of Texas must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Patrick exercised care, custody, or control over the drugs. More specifically, the prosecution must prove that Patrick “intentionally or knowingly” possessed the controlled substance.

I explained that the mere presence of drugs in his car doesn’t necessarily mean the prosecutor will succeed in proving that Patrick was aware of their presence. In other words, just being in the vehicle is not enough to establish that Patrick was aware of the drugs being there. If there were others in the car, it’s equally probable that one of them knew about the drugs and intentionally exercised care, control, or custody over them.

The prosecution must definitively link Patrick to the drugs found in his car. Where were they found? In his pocket? How close to him were the drugs? Were fingerprints taken from the drug container? Was it located in the door pocket, backseat, beneath a seat, or in the center console of the vehicle? The location of the drugs in relation to Patrick is critical to the prosecution’s case. The farther the drugs are from Patrick’s location, the harder it will be for the prosecutor to establish a link.

Was the contraband detected in some sort of parcel? A handbag? A rucksack? Were there any personal items in the bag or backpack that could potentially identify the owner? For instance, a photo ID, a checkbook, keys, or any other personal identifiers that might simplify the prosecutor’s task of linking the drugs to a specific individual. In short, the absence of any strong evidence connecting Patrick directly to the drugs could create significant reasonable doubt, aiding in winning his drug case. Patrick felt more hopeful upon hearing this since, in his case, the vehicle had multiple occupants and the drugs were located beneath the passenger seat. This triggered another question from him,

What If I Had A Conversation With The Police? Could They Use My Remarks Against Me To Establish “Possession?”

The specifics of when, how, and what statements you made are all variables that come into play. In other words, we must take into account the rules regarding Miranda Rights and the admissibility of your statements in court. Patrick was concerned that some of his statements to the police might be misconstrued as him admitting to knowledge of the drugs in the car, and he didn’t want these statements used against him.

Patrick needed to understand that primarily, Miranda Rights impact confessions. Patrick then asked, “What do you mean by confessions?” When a law enforcement officer detains or arrests an individual like Patrick, their goal is to extract information from him. Indeed, they are trained to ask questions in a manner that seems to be in your favor or gives the impression that they are there to assist you. Regrettably, almost anything you utter will be used against you in court if you respond to police inquiries.

Patrick admitted to engaging with the police officer and responding to his queries. Therefore, in this situation, the concept of Miranda rights becomes pivotal. If the law enforcement officer in Patrick’s case failed to adhere to the law, all of Patrick’s statements would be dismissed in court. This provided a good opportunity to explain to Patrick the basic rules of when Miranda rights are applicable.

The fundamental Miranda Warning necessitated by the landmark Supreme Court Case; Miranda vs. Arizona entails the following declaration to the person: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court.”

Failure to read Patrick his Miranda rights before posing questions should result in any given statements being rendered inadmissible in court. However, there are exceptions, and law enforcement officers have learned to circumvent these.

For Miranda rights to be read to Patrick prior to answering any questions, the following conditions must be met:

Patrick must be under arrest – What does “under arrest” mean? It means you are not free to leave. “Under arrest” signifies that Patrick had to be detained. Being handcuffed and placed in the backseat of a patrol car satisfies this requirement. However, if the police officer engaged in a casual chat with Patrick, he could use every statement made by Patrick against him, insisting that Patrick was free to depart at any time. Patrick needed to understand that in the future, HE MUST NEVER RESPOND TO A POLICE OFFICER’S QUESTIONS WITHOUT A ARLINGTON DRUG LAWYER BY HIS SIDE!

Patrick must be under police interrogation for Miranda to apply – That is, if you divulge information without being questioned, it will be admissible. The police officer must be posing questions or interrogating you for Miranda rights to come into play. If Patrick, handcuffed in the patrol car’s back seat, was freely talking and revealing information to the officer, all these statements could be used against him.

In this case, Patrick did respond to a few of the police officer’s queries while he was cuffed in the patrol car’s back seat. As a result, these statements will be dismissed in court and not allowed to be used against him.

So, what happens if the police failed to read Patrick his Miranda rights and he was arrested? Does it immediately imply that his criminal case would be dismissed? Unfortunately, the answer is no. It only means that all oral and written statements made by Patrick would be dismissed in court, making it more challenging for the Government to establish the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Patrick interrupted me, wanting to ask a question related to how his car was pulled over by the police.

What Happens If My Vehicle Was Stopped Without Justification? Is It Possible For My Drug Case To Be Thrown Out?

Patrick posed an important question. According to Texas law, the police require Reasonable Suspicion to halt a vehicle for investigation. In other words, the police cannot stop you solely because they suspect you might be engaging in unlawful activity. How do the police establish reasonable suspicion? Generally, they look for a breach of traffic rules as a pretext for stopping someone.

Patrick was insistent that, to his knowledge, he was driving correctly and was not in breach of any traffic rules at the time of his stop. After scrutinizing the police reports, we discovered that the police officer alleged Patrick had not signaled a lane change within the required 100 feet and had a defective license plate light.

Nonetheless, I made it clear to Patrick that the police officer’s claim of observing a traffic violation doesn’t automatically make it provable in court. If Patrick had not signaled his lane change within 100 feet, how did the officer quantify the distance? If Patrick indeed used his blinker before changing lanes, video footage could raise reasonable doubts as to whether the signal was activated within the prescribed 100 feet.

As for the malfunctioning license plate light, I told Patrick that we would need to review the video to observe the condition of the light. Was it partially functioning? Was it illuminating sufficiently to make the license plate readable from 50 feet away? If the answer is yes, then the grounds for stopping Patrick for investigation might not have been reasonable.

If it’s established that there was no reasonable suspicion to stop Patrick’s car for investigation, it’s important for him to know that we can file a motion to suppress all the evidence post-stop, given it was acquired unlawfully. Patrick was intrigued by this motion to suppress and questioned whether it could apply to the search of his vehicle as well. He then posed the question…

What If There Was No Lawful Ground For The Police To Search My Vehicle? Can An Unlawful Search Lead To The Dismissal Of My Drug Case?

I commended Patrick for asking the right question. According to Texas law, a police officer needs probable cause to search a vehicle. While it takes reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle, the demonstration of probable cause, i.e., the likelihood of a crime being committed, is needed for an officer to search the vehicle. In Patrick’s case, we had to review the police reports and video to discern what the officer was citing as grounds for probable cause to search his vehicle.

After going through the reports, it was revealed that the officer cited the smell of burnt marijuana as the basis for searching the vehicle. I wanted Patrick to be aware that currently, 33 states do NOT consider the mere odor of marijuana sufficient grounds for a vehicle search.

This issue certainly warranted legal examination. Especially considering the recent amendment in Texas law relating to marijuana. In the past, there was no mandate to demonstrate THC levels of marijuana. However, the recent amendment in Texas law now demands proof of THC levels for a conviction. Hence, there’s a strong argument that the mere smell of burnt marijuana, without evidence of its THC levels, does not provide sufficient probable cause for a vehicle search. Indications of probable cause to search for drugs include drugs in plain sight, suspicious movements aimed at hiding an item, discarding something out the window, or hurriedly consuming something.

Patrick was interested in the procedure for drug testing. He asserted that the drugs were not his, he was unaware of their presence, and he couldn’t even confirm they were illegal substances. This led to his subsequent question…

How Can We Confirm The Drugs Were Tested Correctly By The Lab? How Do We Ensure The Substances Are Truly Illegal?

I emphasized to Patrick that the Government is obliged to provide evidence that the drug lab tested the substance appropriately and accurately determined its weight and authenticity. There have been instances where labs in the Dallas/Arlington region faced credibility issues, due to mistakes made by employees which compromised the precision and reliability of the testing. In such circumstances, retesting the drugs can sometimes reveal that the substance identified as an illegal drug was actually not a drug.


In addition, I noted to Patrick that drug labs occasionally make errors in calculating the drug level. A retesting might sometimes provide a defense to reduce the drug charge based on weight alone. Occasionally, a retest can result in a weight that can lower a felony drug charge to a minor misdemeanor charge, or the quantity after retesting might not even constitute a useable amount. If there isn’t a useable quantity of the illegal substance, you do not have possession of an item that constitutes a crime under Texas law.

Patrick was visibly overwhelmed by all this information and still seemed worried. He then asked…

Even If The State Can Establish Everything, Is There A Possibility For My Drug Case To Be Dismissed and Removed From My Record?

Absolutely! I reassured Patrick that it was still feasible. Even if the State of Texas could convincingly establish the case, we could potentially secure a conditional dismissal or a dismissal due to a Drug Diversion Program.

Patrick was unfamiliar with a conditional dismissal and sought more information. A conditional dismissal is a negotiated agreement between the defense attorney and the prosecutor that provides a possibility for a criminal case to be dismissed if Patrick agrees to fulfill certain conditions. For instance, if Patrick agrees to perform community service, provide clean drug tests, and complete a drug education program, the prosecutor might be willing to dismiss the case. This possibility is brought about by the efforts of a defense attorney negotiating with the prosecutor.

Patrick also asked about the Diversion Program Options. Specifically, in Tarrant County, Texas, there are 3 main Drug Diversion Programs to consider. These programs are critical for Patrick as completion of a Diversion Program allows for Immediate Eligibility for Expunction in some circumstances!

Deferred Prosecution Initiative (DPI) – The DPI is a Tarrant County Diversion Program aimed at promoting sobriety by providing a second chance for first-time offenders. The program enables first-time offenders to demonstrate their sobriety in return for the dismissal of their criminal case. Patrick wanted to know the requirements for this initiative. The parameters and requirements of the DPI are as follows:

  • First-time offender status is required
  • Must be 25 years of age or OLDER at the time of the offense (no youthful offenders)
  • No previous juvenile cases
  • The application MUST be completed and admission to the program secured within 90 days of the case being filed
  • Hair testing through Tarrant County Probation
  • Program fee of $300.00
  • Orientation where paperwork is processed, and the case is continued pending program completion
  • Drug Testing
  • Completion of a 4-hour Drug Education Course or proof of continued therapy or counseling
  • Program duration = 6 months


The chief advantage of the Deferred Prosecution Initiative (DPI) is that upon program completion, you qualify for an expunction immediately. It’s crucial for Patrick to understand that with a traditional dismissal, he will have to wait for the mandatory 3-year statute of limitations for the felony charge he received.

The primary risk associated with the Deferred Prosecision Initiative (DPI) is that if you fail to complete the program, you’re at the discretion of the court. In other words, you’ve already pleaded guilty to your drug charge in front of the judge. You lose the right to a jury trial. Your only right is to be sentenced by the judge, who could give you probation or sentence you within the range of punishment for your charge.

Patrick must understand that if he considers a Diversion Program, he needs to ensure its completion.

The eligible Drug Offenses for the Deferred Prosecution Initiative (DPI) are listed as follows:

  1. Possession of marihuana under 2 ounces (Misdemeanor)
  2. Possession of marihuana 2-4 ounces (Misdemeanor)
  3. Possession of marihuana under 2 ounces, drug free zone (Misdemeanor)
  4. Possession of controlled substance (PG3), under 28 grams (Misdemeanor)
  5. Possession of controlled substance (PG2A), under 2 ounces (Misdemeanor)
  6. Possession of controlled substance (PG2A), under 1 gram (Misdemeanor)
  7. Possession of a dangerous drug (Misdemeanor)
  8. Possession of marihuana 2-4 ounces, drug free zone (State Jail Felony)
  9. Possession of controlled substance (PG1), under 1 gram (State Jail Felony)
  10. Possession of controlled substance (PG1A), fewer than 20 abuse units (State Jail Felony)
  11. Possession of controlled substance (PG2), under 1 gram –Drug Free Zone (Felony)
  12. Possession of controlled substance (PG2), under 1 gram (Felony)
  13. Possession of controlled substance (PG2), 1 gram < 4 grams (Felony)
  14. Possession of controlled substance (PG2), 4 <200 grams (Felony)
  15. Possession of controlled substance (PG4), under 28G (Misdemeanor)

Post-Arrest Rehabilitation Program (PARP) – The Post-Arrest Rehabilitation Program, as a diversion initiative, considers drug-related offences for inclusion. It’s specially designed for individuals with no prior criminal record who are facing their first charge. The program demands minimal supervision and offers a fresh start to first-time offenders.

Potential candidates should be under 25, have no previous adult or juvenile offences (class b misdemeanor or above), and pass a drug screening. The PARP features two pathways – Pathway A involves application submission, background assessment, orientation, and passing a drug test. Pathway B caters specifically to marijuana-related and certain substance abuse charges. It involves submitting an application, undergoing background evaluation, attending an orientation, and passing regular drug screenings during the program.

The window for consideration for this program is strictly 90 days from the date the case is filed.

Here’s a condensed summary of the PARP Program requirements:

  • Costs
  • Pathway A cost = $125
  • Pathway B cost = $225
  • Orientation – necessitates a responsible adult or accountability partner for a 2-hour session where the required paperwork is completed and the program officially commences
  • Program Duration
  • Misdemeanor Drug Crimes – 4 months
  • Felony Drug Crimes – 8 months
  • Drug Screening

Eligible offences for inclusion in the Post-Arrest Rehabilitation Program (PARP) can include:

  1. Possession of marihuana under 2 ounces (Misdemeanor)
  2. Possession of marihuana 2-4 ounces (Misdemeanor)
  3. Possession of marihuana under 2 ounces, drug free zone (Misdemeanor)
  4. Possession of controlled substance (PG3), under 28 grams (Misdemeanor)
  5. Possession of controlled substance (PG2A), under 2 ounces (Misdemeanor)
  6. Possession of controlled substance (PG2A), under 1 gram (Misdemeanor)
  7. Possession of a dangerous drug (Misdemeanor)
  8. Possession of marihuana 2-4 ounces, drug free zone (State Jail Felony)
  9. Possession of controlled substance (PG1), under 1 gram (State Jail Felony)
  10. Excluding heroin and fentanyl
  11. Possession of controlled substance (PG1A), fewer than 20 abuse units (State Jail Felony)
  12. Possession of controlled substance (PG2), under 1 gram –Drug Free Zone (Felony)
  13. Limited to methoxy methamphetamine (ecstasy/MDMA), psilocybin, psilocin, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)in the form of edibles, vape pens, cigars, waxes, oils
  14. Possession of controlled substance (PG2), under 1 gram (Felony)
  15. Limited to methoxy methamphetamine (ecstasy/MDMA), psilocybin, psilocin, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)in the form of edibles, vape pens, cigars, waxes, oils
  16. Possession of controlled substance (PG2), 1 gram < 4 grams (Felony)
  17. Limited to methoxy methamphetamine (ecstasy/MDMA), psilocybin, psilocin, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)in the form of edibles, vape pens, cigars, waxes, oils
  18. Possession of controlled substance (PG2), 4 <200 grams (Felony)
  19. Limited to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)in the form of edibles, vape pens, cigars, waxes, oils
  20. Possession of controlled substance (PG4), under 28G (Misdemeanor)

New Beginnings Drug Program (NBDP) – The New Beginnings Drug Program is a diversion initiative designed for those facing their first offence. It requires minimum to no supervision. The upside of this program is that upon successful completion, the participant’s drug case gets dismissed, and expunction is an option. The downside, however, is the mandatory guilty plea before the judge as part of the program’s conditions. Therefore, failure to comply with the program rules and consequent expulsion could lead straight to sentencing, with the judge deciding the punishment range for the drug case. A strict 90-day deadline from the case filing is also part of the program’s requirements.

Once accepted, Patrick would need to check in with a case manager to complete the admission paperwork and his assigned court to finalize the plea agreement. As Patrick’s case was a felony, he would have to report to the 372nd District Court in Tarrant County, Texas, with Judge Scott Wisch presiding.

A brief summary of the program prerequisites includes:

  1. Prohibition of drug or alcohol consumption during the program
  2. Mandatory High School Diploma or GED, and full payment of program fees
  3. A $550 program fee for felony drug charges
  4. The felony program spans 180 days
  5. Two monthly urinalysis and two hair tests required
  6. Compulsory Drug Education Class
  7. A $350 program fee for misdemeanor drug charges
  8. Misdemeanor program lasts 90 days
  9. Two monthly urinalysis
  10. Short Drug Education Class is a must

Eligible Offences for Consideration of the New Beginnings Drug Program:

  1. Possession of a Controlled Substance, under 1 gram
  2. Possession of a Controlled Substance, 1 – 4 grams
  3. Possession of a Controlled Substance, under 2 ounces
  4. Possession of Marijuana under 2 ounces
  5. Possession of Marijuana 2 – 4 ounces
  6. Drug Free Zone, Controlled Substance under 28 grams
  7. Drug Free Zone Marihuana 2 – 4 ounces
  8. Forging or Altering Prescription
  9. Possession of a Dangerous Drug
  10. Diversion of a Controlled Substance
  11. Attempt of any of the above offenses

Despite the influx of information, Patrick felt a sense of relief knowing he had a detailed plan to safeguard his freedom and clean his criminal record.

So, how did Patrick’s story conclude? Even though there were multiple strategies to get his case dismissed, Patrick opted for one of the brief Diversion Programs to expunge his arrest and charge from his criminal record. After successfully completing the 4-month Diversion Program, Patrick and I began working on his expunction.

Patrick’s story resonates with many individuals arrested in Texas for drug-related crimes. Sadly, not everyone receives the essential information needed to make informed decisions post-arrest. We hope this information has provided insight into how the criminal justice system operates in the context of drug cases.

If you have any questions about your unique situation, we’re here to provide prompt answers and assistance.