What is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking in Texas is defined as any act that involves manufacturing, distributing or possessing illegal substances. These illegal substances can include:
This offense involves more than just possessing and using illegal and controlled drugs. It can also involve smuggling and transporting them as well.
Drug trafficking in Texas is charged as a state crime and a felony if it is committed within the state’s boundaries. If the drugs leave state lines, however, the crime becomes a federal offense. Drug trafficking violates the state’s Controlled Substances Act. People who are convicted of this offense face penalties that can include years in prison and steep civil fines that range in the tens of thousands of dollars.
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Categories of Drugs in Texas
To clarify the severity of drug trafficking within the state, Texas categorizes the numerous substances that are illegal to manufacture, sell and possess. It uses four categories to determine the level of penalties that people may face if they are found guilty of drug trafficking in Texas.
Penalty Group One, for example, is reserved for drugs like:
Alternatively, Penalty Group Two contains substances like amphetamine, methaqualone and ecstasy.
The third penalty group involves drugs like LSD, Xanax and Valium. Penalty Group Four is for mixtures or drug compounds, including those that mix both illegal drugs and prescribed substances together.
As a general rule, Texas penalizes the trafficking of more addictive drugs harsher. In essence, the higher the penalty group that the drugs belong to, the more severe penalties a drug trafficker can expect to face if he or she is convicted.
Penalties of Drug Trafficking in Texas
The extent and severity of penalties that you will face in Texas if you are convicted of drug trafficking will depend on a number of different factors. Factors that come into play when law enforcement decides if and how to charge you for this offense include:
- The penalty group of drugs found in your possession
- The amount of drugs that you are accused of trafficking
- If you have any prior drug trafficking convictions
- If the drug trafficking took place in a designated safe zone
- If the drug trafficking offense can be charged as as state or federal offense
- If you had any weapons on you at the time of your arrest
- If you had a sizable amount of cash on you when you were arrested
- If you possessed drug-related items like weighing scales or packaging materials
Depending on these factors, you could face any array of punishments. For example, if you are found guilty of trafficking less than one gram of any of the drugs in the first or second penalty groups, you could face six months to two years in jail and a fine of up to $4000.
However, if you are found guilty of trafficking four to 400 grams of any of the drugs in the second or higher penalty groups, you could face five to 99 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Likewise, trafficking 28 to 200 grams in Penalty Group Four can result in you being sentenced to two to 20 years in prison and paying a fine of $10,000.
Still, a number of mitigating factors can influence if or what kind of charges that you will face. For example, your defense attorney will determine if police violated your Constitutional Fourth Amendment rights. If they determine that the police violated these rights, your lawyer can ask that the evidence found during the illegal search and seizure of the drugs be thrown out of court.
Likewise, your lawyer can determine if any statements from drug informants in your case are valid and legal. If questions can arise from these statements, they can be sufficient in getting the charges against you dropped or reduced.
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Hiring a Drug Trafficking Attorney
A variety of circumstances can determine whether or not drug trafficking charges against you can be successfully litigated and lead to your conviction. As someone who is accused of this crime, you have rights under the law to explore these circumstances and use mitigating factors to your advantage.
However, to make full use of legal advantages that are available to you, you need to hire an experienced drug trafficking attorney to represent you. Your lawyer can investigate the charges against you thoroughly and determine if they are legal and valid. He or she can also argue for why they should be reduced or dropped, based on the evidence in your case.
For example, if you were not aware of the presence of drugs in your car or home, you might have a solid defense to escape being sentenced to jail and fined thousands of dollars. Likewise, if you are charged with trafficking a substance the law enforcement labeled as illegal when, in fact, it was not meant for human consumption, you might have a case to avoid being charged.
Finally, your attorney may be able to argue that you were under duress and that you or your family were threatened. If you were compelled into trafficking drugs under duress, your attorney may be able to get the charges against you reduced or dropped.
A drug trafficking attorney is a valuable ally to have on retainer if you are charged with this offense. He or she can determine what, if any, mitigating factors exist in your case. Your lawyer can also present evidence to show why the charges against you should be reduced or dropped entirely.