Living in a major metropolitan area like the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex has its perks. We have first-class art and cultural centers. We have delicious restaurants. We have major teams for every sport. We have all the parks, bars, and shopping you could want.
Unfortunately, in exchange for all those perks, we also have a higher crime rate. Case-in-point: Fort Worth has seen a spike in violent crimes so far in the first quarter (January through March) of this year.
Here are the most recent crime statistics for our city:
- Violent crimes are up 14 percent.
- Homicides are 69 percent higher.
- Aggravated assaults are up 15 percent.
- Sexual assaults increased by 24 percent.
- Robberies are 30 percent higher.
- Home break-ins, prostitution, and drug arrests have decreased slightly.
What has caused this significant rise in crime?
Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray said, “We have seen an uptick. Whether it has been gang related, drug related, or domestic violence, we have seen an uptick.”
Pastor TJ Ragster, who established a new anti-crime group, Just Stop, agrees with Gray, saying the reason for the increase could be related to, “Some gang violence, some drug related things.”
Add this news to the recent shooting that killed two and left five others injured on the south side of Fort Worth, and we have an unfortunate situation for our vibrant city.
If drugs are one of the causes of this crime spike, you can be sure that law enforcement officers and prosecutors are going to take a hardline stance against criminal activities related to drugs. Because of this, we want to take a closer look at how you can be affected by drug charges.
Drug Offenses in Texas
In Texas, a drug charge looks at three main areas to determine your exact offense and penalties associated with the alleged crime.
- The type of drug
- The amount of the drug
- Any aggravating circumstances such as location
The Type of Drug. The Texas Controlled Substances Act divides drugs into different penalty groups based on their potential for abuse and whether there are accepted medical uses.
- Penalty Group 1: heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, over 300 mg of oxycodone and hydrocodone
- Penalty Group 1a: LSD
- Penalty Group 2: Ecstasy, PCP, mescaline, marinol
- Penalty Group 3: Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, under 300 mg of hydrocodone
- Penalty Group 4: morphine, Motofen, Buprenorphine
Marijuana is considered separately as its own group.
The Amount of the Drug. Depending on the penalty group and the corresponding amount, you can be charged with a number of different offenses with a variety of penalties.
- Class B misdemeanor: Jail term up to 180 days and fines up to $2,000.
- Class A misdemeanor: Jail term up to one year and fines up to $4,000.
- State jail felony: Jail term between 180 days and 2 years and fines up to $10,000.
- Third degree felony: Jail term between 2 and 10 years and fines up to $10,000.
- Second degree felony: Jail term between 2 and 20 years and fines up to $10,000.
- First degree felony: Jail term between 5 and 99 years or life and fines up to $10,000.
Penalty Groups 1 and 2:
- Less than 1 gram: State jail felony
- 1 to 4 grams: Third degree felony
- 4 to 200 grams (4 to 400 grams for Group 2): second degree felony
- Over 200 grams (over 400 grams for Group 2): first degree felony
Penalty Group 1a:
- Under 20 units: State jail felony
- 20 to 80 units: Third degree felony
- 80 to 4,000 units: Second degree felony
- 4,000 to 8,000 units: First degree felony
Penalty Groups 3 and 4:
- Under 28 grams: Class A misdemeanor.
- 28 to 200 grams: Third degree felony
- 200 to 400 grams: Second degree felony
- Over 400 grams: First degree felony
- Under 2 ounces: Class B misdemeanor
- 2 to 4 ounces: Class A misdemeanor
- 4 ounces to 5 pounds: State jail felony
- 5 to 50 pounds: Third degree felony
- 50 to 2,000 pounds: Second degree felony
- Over 2,000 pounds: First degree felony
If you have more than a first degree felony amount, you will be charged with an enhanced first degree felony where the fines can increase to $100,000 or $250,000.
Aggravating Circumstances. Aggravating circumstances can increase the penalty for the drug offense typically by one level. For example, if you were caught with less than 20 units of LSD, a Penalty Group 1a drug, you could be charged with a state jail felony. However, if you were caught with the same amount in a drug-free school zone, that penalty will be elevated to a third degree felony.
Bottom line? If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, don’t resign yourself to simply accepting the charges. Reach out to an experienced Fort Worth drug attorney to fight back and work to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed altogether.
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.