Cocaine Laws in Texas
The reason that penalties and punishments for cocaine possession and distribution are so harsh in Texas stems from the fact that the state’s laws do not allow for any misdemeanor charges regarding this drug. In fact, cocaine itself is defined as a Penalty Group 1 drug in Texas. Anyone found to be in possession of or distributing cocaine will automatically be charged with a felony.
As such, the penalties involved with both offenses are notably harsher. Someone who is found guilty of possessing or distributing cocaine in Texas can face substantial civil fines, long jail or prison sentences or both.
To avoid being found guilty of either offense, it is important for you to know how Texas state law defines them. You can appreciate the importance of retaining an experienced drug defense attorney to represent you if you are charged with cocaine possession or distribution.
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Cocaine Possession in Texas
Cocaine possession in Texas is legally defined as possessing any amount of this drug. Even if you only have a few grams of it on your person, you can still be charged with cocaine possession. By law, you will be found to be in control, custody and management of the drug.
However, Texas state law determines what kind of felony to charge you with based on how much of the drug was found in your possession. The felony weights of cocaine are categorized as:
- Less than one gram
- One to four grams
- Four to 200 grams
- 200 to 400 grams
- More than 400 grams
If you are found to be in possession of less than one gram of cocaine in Texas, you will be charged with a state felony. A state felony conviction of less than one gram of cocaine could lead to a prison sentence of six months to two years.
If you are found to be in possession of one to four grams, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. A third-degree cocaine possession conviction will lead to a prison sentence of up to 10 years. You also could pay a fine of up to $10,000.
Possessing four to 200 grams of cocaine in Texas results in a second-degree felony charge. This conviction could result in you being sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
First-degree felony cocaine possession charges result when you are found to possess 200 to 400 grams or more than 400 grams of this drug. If you are found guilty of a first-degree charge of possessing 200 to 400 grams of cocaine, you could be sentenced from 10 to 99 years in jail and pay up to $100,000 in fines. If you are convicted of possessing more than 400 grams of cocaine in Texas, you could face 15 to 99 years in prison and pay a fine totaling up to $250,000.
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Cocaine Distribution in Texas
Texas state law defines cocaine distribution as trafficking, delivering or distributing this drug to another person. In essence, if you sell or transfer cocaine to anyone, you could be charged with cocaine distribution, which is a felony in Texas.
As with cocaine possession, the punishments for this serious offense depend on how much of the drug that you trafficked, delivered or sold. The sentences, if you are convicted, can include both jail time and steep civil penalties.
For example, if you are found to have distributed less than one gram of cocaine in Texas, you will be charged with a state felony. A state felony conviction of distributing cocaine will lead to a prison sentence of 180 days to two years. You could also pay a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are charged with selling one to four grams of cocaine, you will be charged with a second-degree felony. A second-degree cocaine distribution charge in Texas will result in a sentence of up to 20 years. You will also be charged with a second-degree felony if you sell cocaine to a minor under the age of 17.
Distributing four to 200 grams of cocaine will result in a first-degree felony charge. If you are found guilty of this offense, you could serve 10 to 99 years in prison. You also may pay a fine of up to $100,000. The same penalties apply if you are found guilty of selling 200 to 400 grams of cocaine in Texas.
Finally, selling cocaine in the amount of more than 400 grams will also result in you being charged with a first-degree felony. However, this conviction can lead to a prison term of 15 to 99 years. You can also pay a fine of up to $250,000.
It is important to note that you will face the same category of punishments if you are found guilty of manufacturing or creating cocaine in Texas. Even more, your penalties can be enhanced significantly if you are found to have committed these offenses on or near school properties.
Retain a Lawyer
Given how severe the penalties are in Texas for possessing and distributing cocaine, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney to represent you immediately after being charged with these offenses. An experienced defense attorney can ensure that your rights are fully protected and that you have fair representation during the ensuing legal processes.
Your lawyer can secure any evidence available to show that you are not found guilty of the cocaine distribution or possession charges against you. He or she may also negotiate down the charges against you to the lowest possible, helping you avoid long jail sentences and civil fines that you cannot afford to pay.
Cocaine possession and distribution in Texas are serious offenses that can result in steep fines and lengthy prison sentences. The amount of time that you serve and fines that you pay will depend on how much of the drug that you possess or traffic. You can protect yourself legally and may avoid the harshest penalties for these felony charges by hiring an experienced attorney to represent you.