Drug Possession Charges and Penalty Groups


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Drug possession charges hinge on the prosecution’s ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally controlled the possession of or actually possessed either illegal drugs or drugs that are illegal without a prescription (or that are used for non-medical purposes). If you are charged with drug possession, the severity of the charge will hinge upon which of the five penalty groups the drug is classified in. It is important to note, however, that even a relatively minor drug charge should be taken extremely seriously.

Penalty Group 1

Penalty Group 1 is generally referred to as the opioid group, and it includes most common opioids, opioid derivatives, and other opiates. Other heavy-hitting drugs like the following, however, are also included:

  • Hallucinogens, such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin

  • Cocaine

  • Methamphetamine

  • Ketamine

If you are charged with possession of a Penalty Group 1 drug in an amount that exceeds 399 grams, a conviction can buy you from two years behind bars plus a $10,000 fine all the way to life in prison with a fine of up to $250,000.

Penalty Group 2

The drugs in Penalty Group 2 include most of the common hallucinogenic substances, including MDMA (commonly known as Molly or Ecstasy), PCP (commonly known as Angel Dust), hashish (derived from the potent resin of the cannabis plant), and other cannabinoids. The penalties for possession of drugs in this penalty group vary widely, but the fines tend to be lower than Penalty Group 1. A conviction can carry from 180 days in jail (for possession of even less than 1 gram) to life in prison with penalties of up to $50,000 (for possession of more than 399 grams).

Penalty Group 3 and 4

The majority of prescription medications are classified in either Penalty Group 3 or 4. For example, any opioids that are not contained in Penalty Group 1 are classified in one of these penalty groups. Other drugs classified in either Penalty Group 3 or 4 include:

  • Benzodiazepines and other common sedatives (such as valium)

  • Anabolic steroids

  • Ritalin

  • Other chemical compounds that carry a potential for abuse

While possession charges for these drugs carry significantly reduced penalties and fines, a mere 200 grams can trigger charges that carry the harshest penalties in this group (as opposed to Penalty Groups 1 and 2’s 400-gram requirement). Penalties range from a one-year minimum prison stint with up to $4,000 in fines to 20 years in prison with fines that can reach $10,000.

The Marijuana Penalty Group

As society’s laws and views regarding marijuana, including synthetic marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids like Spice and K2, continue to evolve rapidly, penalties for those convictions that fall into the marijuana penalty group are a mixed bag. A conviction for even a small amount of marijuana – if you are charged – can lead to a six-month revocation of your driver’s license. Carrying more than two ounces on you, however, can lead to fines of from $4,000 to $50,000 and up to 10 years behind bars. Such charges often come with mandatory drug treatment requirements being tacked on.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Lawyer Today

If you are facing a drug possession charge, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is an impressive criminal lawyer with the experience, legal insight, and dedication required to protect your rights. For more information, please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.


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