Month: June 2014

According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cocaine is classified as a schedule II drug. Drugs in this category are considered to be “narcotic drugs” and have a high potential for addiction and abuse, therefore they are illegal to possess, manufacture, or distribute. However, drugs that fall under this category may legally be administered by a physician under certain circumstances. Other schedule II drugs include methadone, methamphetamine, and morphine.

You may be surprised to learn that cocaine was not always a regulated drug in the United States. Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the Coca plant, whose leaves were used in the early production of Coca-Cola, hence the name. In the mid-19th Century, cocaine was also widely used in cough drops, toothache drops, topical anesthetics and wine.

Despite its former uses, cocaine possession is now a very serious crime that is subject to strict criminal prosecution at both the state and the federal level. Regardless of how small the amount of cocaine a person has in their possession, the consequences are severe and life-altering. Under certain laws, crack cocaine may carry even harsher penalties than regular cocaine.

Possession of Cocaine

Although the term possession seems pretty self-explanatory, when it relates to cocaine, it may not be as cut and dry. A cocaine possession charge can be either for simple possession or constructive possession.Houston criminal defense of cocaine cases

“Simple” possession

Simple possession of cocaine is the most common type of possession charge. It occurs when a person knowingly has cocaine on his or her person or within his or her physical control. This can include having cocaine in their backpack, purse, pants pocket, stashed in their shoe, or even hidden in a body cavity. They must know that cocaine is illegal and that they have the drug on or with them.

The key to simple possession is that the person must know they are in possession of an illegal drug. If someone obtains a bag that appears to be sugar because it is labeled as such, and that person has no knowledge that the bag of sugar actually contains cocaine, then they would not be guilty of simple possession. Despite the person’s innocence, it could still be challenging for them to prove their innocence in court.

“Constructive possession”

Constructive possession of a controlled substance is more complicated. It refers to situations where the law interprets, implies or infers that a person has legal control over the cocaine or other drug. This differs from a person having physical control and is much broader.

A person can be charged with constructive possession of cocaine in circumstances where the law can reasonably believe the person has legal control over the drug even if it is not found on their person or in their physical control. For example, if cocaine is found in a vehicle registered to or rented by an individual, that person may be charged with constructive possession despite the fact that another person occasionally drives the vehicle. A person could be charged with constructive possession if cocaine is found in a package that was addressed to them or a hotel room where they were staying.

It can also be considered constructive possession if cocaine is found in a handbag that belongs to a passenger in your vehicle or in another person’s home if the authorities can show evidence that the plan was to jointly posses the cocaine.

What Factors Affect Cocaine Possession Charges?

Under both federal and state law, here are a multitude of factors that can have an effect on the severity of the charges in your cocaine possession case. The factors include, but are not limited to:

  • The amount of cocaine you are accused of possessing
  • If the amount of cocaine was sufficient enough to enable the courts to add a charge for intent to distribute (greater than 5 grams of cocaine in the federal system)
  • If there was any involvement by a minor (18 years or under)
  • Whether anyone was injured or killed during the incident
  • Whether you have any prior criminal history, especially if it was drug-related

If any of these factors apply, it can greatly impact the severity of a person’s sentence if found guilty.

Possible Outcomes of Cocaine Conviction

If convicted of cocaine possession, there are a wide variety of potential penalties that may result. Cocaine possession is a very serious conviction, and so are the consequences.

Convictions at the federal level can involve: http://supolicies.syr.edu/docs/alcohol_penalties_federal.pdf

  • Seizure and forfeiture of real estate or other personal property such as boats and vehicles
  • Loss of federal benefits such as professional licenses, commercial licenses, and student loans
  • Civil penalties of up to $10,000

In addition, convictions at both the federal and state level can result in a combination of the following:

  • Probation
  • Jail time or prison time
  • Stiff fines
  • Possible suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
  • Court-ordered drug counseling
  • Registration as a drug offender

Federal Penalties:http://www.iwu.edu/ccs/Federal_Drug_Laws.htm

For a first offense, a Federal conviction of possession of an amount of 500-4999 grams of cocaine will result in a prison sentence of 5-40 years and fines of up to $2 million for an individual or $5 million if not an individual. If the incident involved serious injury or death, the prison sentence is 20 years to more than life.

A second offense of possessing 500-4999 grams of cocaine will result in 10 years to life in prison, or in the case of serious injury or death, the prison sentence is life imprisonment. A fine will also be levied of up to $4 million for an individual or $10 million if not an individual.

The penalties for a cocaine possession involving 5kg or more are 10 years to life in prison, or 20 years to more than life should the incident have involved serious injury or death. In addition, the offender is also subject to fines of up to $4 million dollars if an individual or up to $10 million if not an individual.

A second offense of possession involving 5kg or more of cocaine is punishable by 20 years to life in prison, or life imprisonment if death or serious injury resulted from the incident. A fine of up to $8 million for an individual or up to $20 million if not an individual also applies.

If a person has two or more prior cocaine convictions involving possession of 5kg or more of the drug, the penalty is life imprisonment.

Criminal Penalties in the State of Texas

Although specific criminal penalties of cocaine possession vary by state, the penalties in the state of Texas are based upon the amount of cocaine the person had in their possession and are as follows:Texas

  • Possession of less than 1 gram of cocaine is classified as a state jail felony and punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of 1 to 3.99 grams is classified as a 3rd degree felony and carries a penalty of 2-10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Being found in possession of 4 to 199 grams results in a 2nd degree felony with a penalty of 2-20 years in prison and a $10,000.
  • If a person is convicted of possession between 200-399 grams of cocaine, it is a 1st degree felony with a penalty of 5-99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine is classified as an enhanced 1st degree felony that is punishable by 10-99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

If you happen to find yourself in a legal battle involving possession of cocaine, it is imperative that you seek counsel from an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney who specializes in criminal drug cases. Relying on a court-appointed public defender is a mistake that you may regret for the rest of your life. Hiring the right attorney could make the difference between receiving probation and being sentenced to a number of years behind bars.

Drug Crimes and Justice

Enter the danger zone of the cocaine drug and see ways in which mules attempt to bring cocaine into America and Europe. Drug dealers don’t hesitate to kill anyone who stands in the way of their billion dollar industry. Cocaine is trafficked by submarine, air freight, and more commonly, human traffickers.

Cocaine Wars – Crime Documentary

We’ve taken the time to outline the more interesting points about the cocaine trafficking video in the list of points below. Although few have really seen how drug dealers and cocaine smugglers operate, they will now.

  • Every year over 450 tons of cocaine come into the United States from Columbia.
  • A good attorney will see many cocaine distribution cases every year as a result of mules attempting to bring cocaine into the Unites States over the Texas-Mexico border.
  • In some cases, DEA and local police will conduct airport sweeps in an attempt to interdict cocaine coming in to the U.S.
  • Dogs are often used to flag suspicions bags that have the scent of cocaine on them.
  • Mules often use religious medallions thinking it will protect them from being caught trafficking cocaine by police.
  • In many cases, gorgeous females from cocaine producing countries will seduce men into trafficking drugs for them. Believe it or not, these men often will conduct drug trafficking activities on behalf of these women and they usually end up in jail for their efforts.
  • In many cases, drug lords control entire communities making it difficult for people who want to help police to do so. Living in fear of your life as a result of being a snitch or a police informant is probably not a good idea.
  • The people who package the drugs that enter cross the border get paid in excess of 10,000.00 per month. The drug is hidden in books, electronic devices, the human body, small animals, clothing, vehicles, and use many other strategies to export their dope.
  • Liquified cocaine is created due to the ease of shipment, however, the smell of cocaine is unmistakable and is easy for drug sniffing dogs to sniff out.
  • In some case, people will swallow pellets of cocaine to the tune of many kilos in order to attempt to stake their claim to drug trade dollars.
  • Every year in Houston, and in other major American cities, people are arrested all the time for criminal offense involving cocaine. This usually due to a lack or foresight with regard to career opportunities outside of those like drug trafficking which can leave one to rot in prison for years.
  • Heroin is also trafficked in much the fashion as cocaine.

Crime Law and Criminals

To be accused, arrested, and charged with drug possession by law enforcement is a situation that carries a lot of weight. The possibilities available for punishment vary greatly from probation, on up to a sentence of anywhere from 20 – 99 years incarceration. Generally, the time that you will face if caught with drugs in your possession (and convicted) will vary greatly depending on the quantity of the controlled substance in your possession at time of arrest.

If you are charged with possession, it means that the State of Texas has probable cause to arrest you for possession of a controlled substance. However, any Houston criminal charge defense lawyer you hire will operate under the preface of you being innocent until proven guilty as should the criminal justice system per the United States Constitution.

Drugs Commonly Involved with Possession Arrests

If you are found by a police agency to be in possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, meth, PCP, crack, or any other drug deemed to be a controlled substance according to Texas law, a conviction will result in a 6 month suspension of your Texas Drivers License. For this reason alone, meeting with a drug crimes attorney will give you an opportunity to fight against the suspension of your drivers license in Texas.

Drug possession penalties involving small amounts of marijuana are often classified as misdemeanor criminal offenses, however, any amount of cocaine, heroin, or meth will result in a felony charge by law enforcement. If you are convicted of such a crime, you may be able to avoid jail time by getting a deferred adjudication ruling or probation with intent to have the criminal charge removed, or expunged, from you background.

Possession Charges

A person can be charged with the possession of a controlled substance if the police find drugs on your person, or in place that you control or have easy access to. A good example of a place could be your vehicle, locker, home, apartment, bags, your pockets, or any other area that could control or have unobstructed access to. Even being in a location outside your home, say on a couch or a bench, with drug in your immediate proximity, could result in the police having probable cause to initiate a drug arrest.

If you are convicted of possession of narcotics you are likely looking at jail time, monetary fines, and a criminal record that follow you for the rest of your life. Going to jail has a way of putting a strain on inmates, and a strain on the families of the imprisoned. Once released from jail, it will be impossible to get some professional licenses or to hold some employment positions.

Controlled Substances in Texas

Penalty Group Drug Deemed to Be Controlled Substances
1 Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, GHB, ketamine, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
1A LSD
2 Ecstasy (MMDA), PCP, mescaline, (resinous extractives of Cannabis that aren’t marihuana, e.g. hashish)
3 Valium, Xanax and Ritalin.
4 Compounds containing Dionine, Motofen, Buprenorphine or Pryovalerone

Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Texas

Penalty Group 1

Weight Classification Penalty
Less than one gram State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
1 gram or more, less than 4 grams Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
4 grams or more, but less than 200 grams Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams First-degree felony 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
400 grams or more Enhanced first-degree felony 10 to 99 years and a fine of not more than $100,000

Penalty Group 1A

Amount Classification Penalty
Fewer than 20 units State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
20 or more units, but less than 80 units Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
80 units or more, but less than 4,000 units Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
4,000 units or more, but less than 8,000 units First-degree felony 5 to 99 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
8,000 units or more Enhanced first-degree felony 15 to 99 years in a state prison and a fine of not more than $250,000

Penalty Group 2

Weight Classification Penalty
Less than one gram State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
More than 1 gram, less than 4 grams Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
More than 4 grams, less than 400 grams Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
400 grams or more Enhanced first-degree felony 5 to 99 years and a fine of not more than $50,000

Penalty Groups 3 and 4

Weight Classification Penalty
Less than 28 grams Class A misdemeanor Not more than 1 year – county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000
28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years – state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years – state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000
400 grams or more Enhanced first-degree felony 5 to 99 years – fine up to $50,000

Talk With a Qualified Texas Drug Crimes Attorney

As you can see in the Texas drug crime penalty chart above, criminal penalties for drug crimes range from a few days in county jail and a small fine on up to 99 years in jail with a criminal fines of up to 50,000.00.

If you have a criminal case pending and have not yet decided on how you want to handle it, talk with a board certified criminal defense attorney with experience fighting the state of Texas on drug crime charges. Even if you intend to plead guilty, talk with a smart lawyer in Houston and you will probably get through the situation without having to serve time in jail if this is a first offense drug charge.

Drug Crimes and Justice