You recognize that cocaine is illegal, but you may not know that, in the State of Texas, crack cocaine is the illegal drug that is most heavily penalized. When crack cocaine is involved, prosecutors tend to swoop in – and ask questions later – secure in the knowledge that they likely have a decent shot at a conviction. If you are facing a Texas charge related to cocaine, the matter is too important not to reach out for the professional legal counsel of an experienced Harker Heights criminal defense attorney as soon as it is possible for you to do so.
Penalty Group I
When it comes to cocaine charges – unlike those related to many other illegal drugs – they begin as felony charges. There are no misdemeanor cocaine charges, which means there is no possibility of bargaining the charge down from a felony to a misdemeanor. Cocaine falls into Penalty Group I in Texas, and this translates to carrying the very harshest penalties and punishments (in a state that is famous for its harsh drug penalties and punishments. To reiterate, there is no such thing as just having a little bit of cocaine in your possession – it is a felony to possess any (no matter how small the amount).
Charges and Punishment
The amount of cocaine you possess will, however, directly affect the charge you face and the penalties that attend a conviction. Consider the following:
If you are found in possession of less than a gram, it is a state jail felony, which can lead to a sentence of from 6 months to 2 years behind bars and to a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are found in possession of from 1 to 4 grams, it is a third-degree felony, which can lead to a prison sentence of up to 10 years and to fines of up to $10,000.
If you are found in possession of from 4 to 200 grams, it is a second-degree felony, which can lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years and to fines of up to $10,000.
If you are found in possession of from 200 to 400 grams, it is a first-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of from 5 to 99 years and to fines of up to $100,000.
If you are found in possession of more than 400 grams, it is a first-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of from 10 to 99 years and to fines of up to $250,000.
It is safe to say that Texas takes cocaine possession extremely seriously.
Selling cocaine, which is also known as trafficking, delivering, or distribution, is an even bigger legal deal. Cocaine trafficking can also include creating and or manufacturing cocaine (either via chemical or natural mechanisms). Trafficking charges also increase in seriousness in direct proportion to the amount involved. If trafficking involves from 4 to 200 grams, the charge jumps from the second-degree felony charge of possession to a first-degree felony charge with penalties that include from 5 to 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Attendant prison time escalates from here.
Factors that can contribute to the prosecution levying trafficking charges can include:
If you are alleged to have large amounts of crack cocaine or cocaine in your possession
If you possess large sums of cash
If you are in possession of the packaging materials that are closely associated with the sale of cocaine, which include tiny ziplock bags
If you are in possession of scales and/or other items that are considered tools of the trade
The prosecution will attempt to build a narrative that defines your alleged trafficking with any and all of the so-called evidence at its disposal.
Simple Possession of Paraphernalia
In Texas, simply possessing items that are considered paraphernalia for cocaine trafficking is a Class C misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500. Further, if you are charged with delivering paraphernalia, possessing paraphernalia with the intent to deliver, or manufacturing paraphernalia with the intent to deliver, it is a Class A misdemeanor that carries up to one year in jail and fines of up to $4,000 – and if you have a prior conviction, there is a mandatory 90 jail sentence involved.
It is important to recognize that there are also certain so-called enhancements that can make your potential penalties that much harsher. These include:
If you are a repeat offender
If your charge involves selling or delivering cocaine or paraphernalia to someone under the age of 18
If your charge involves a drug-free zone, such as if it is within a certain distance of a school
Building Your Strongest Defense
If you are facing a cocaine charge of any kind, it is critical that you build your strongest defense – in pursuit of your case’s optimal outcome. The first step in this process is consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, and there are several very common and powerful defense strategies to consider.
You Did Not Know
In order for the prosecution to prove your guilt, it must be able to prove that you knowingly or intentionally possessed the drug. If you did not know it was in your possession, the prosecution may be thwarted from the outset. Other people often have access to our homes, our belongings, and our vehicles, and you cannot be expected to be aware of every movement other people in your orbit make.
Unlawful Search or Seizure
In order to search your person, vehicle, possession, or home, the police need probable cause (or a warrant) for doing so. Without either, any evidence obtained may be deemed inadmissible by the court. This probable cause amounts to having a reasonable suspicion. If you get pulled over for a burned-out headlight, for example, this does not amount to reasonable suspicion for searching your car or anything else.
An Experienced Harker Heights Criminal Defense Lawyer Is on Your Side
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Harker Heights, Texas, is a resourceful criminal defense lawyer who is well positioned and well prepared to help you handle the drug charge hanging over you. To learn more, please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.