Drug charges are a serious legal matter that can significantly affect your future. If you are facing Texas drug charges, you’re likely confused and scared - better understanding the legal terms used in drug cases can help you understand exactly what’s going on. Drug charges can lead to harsh penalties that include steep fines, jail time, and collateral consequences that can affect you for years.
A controlled substance is an illegal drug – the illegality of which is determined by state and local laws. The law views prescription drugs differently, however. If you possess a prescription drug for which you do not also have a prescription, that drug – while it would be legal for a prescription holder – is considered a controlled substance while in your possession. If, on the other hand, you have a prescription medication for which you also possess a prescription – and the amount you possess does not exceed the prescribed amount – the drug is not considered a controlled substance.
Federal and state authorities assign different drugs different classifications that are known as schedules – according to how dangerous the drugs are to society. The schedule of the drug and the amount possessed guides the drug charges brought and the penalties sought. In the State of Texas, drugs are classified into five schedules that include:
- Schedule I – These are drugs in which there is a high risk of abuse and that have no safe or accepted medical use. Heroin, LSD, PCP, and crack cocaine are examples.
- Schedule II – These are drugs that are at high risk for abuse, but that also have safe and accepted medical uses. Morphine, cocaine, and oxycodone are examples
- Schedule III, IV, and V – these drugs have a lesser risk of abuse, have safe and accepted medical uses, and often contain less potent doses of the same drugs found in Schedule I or II. Valium, Tylenol 3, and Xaxax are examples.
Possession, as it applies to the law, relates to having control of the substance, and determining possession is critical to every case involving drug charges. To be in possession of a drug, it does not have to be on you (in your pocket or bag, for example). Instead, if the substance is located in an area that is under your control, it is considered in your possession. There is naturally plenty of room for interpretation within this element of a drug charge.