The Texas Controlled Substances Act


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You probably do not have to be told that Texas draws a hard line for drug offenses. When criminal conduct is involved, there are often varied laws at play, and when the charges are for drug crimes in the State of Texas, these laws go beyond the Texas Penal Code to include the Texas Controlled Substances Act. Suffice to say that when it comes to drug charges, the State of Texas has it covered.

If you are facing a drug charge in Texas, it is a serious matter that requires the careful attention of an experienced Harker Heights criminal defense attorney. Attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard appreciates the gravity of the situation you find yourself in and is committed to skillfully advocating in defense of your legal rights – in zealous pursuit of your case’s most favorable resolution. We are on your side, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information about how we can help you today.

The Basics

Texas law is very strict when it comes to drug offenses – even seemingly minor offenses. This leads us to the Texas Controlled Substances Act of 1973, which relates to those drugs and related substances that are controlled by both the federal government and the State of Texas. This act makes it a crime to possess, distribute, or manufacture controlled substances within the schedules.

The Federal Controlled Substances Act

The United States has been addressing drug abuse for a long time now, and the nation’s attempts to outlaw certain drugs over the many years ultimately resulted in a conglomeration of more than 200 separate laws that were difficult – if not impossible – to enforce effectively and fairly. In an attempt to remedy the situation, President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act into law in 1970. In so doing, all those separate laws were funneled into one comprehensive statute that classifies controlled substances into schedules that many states have also adopted. Texas is one of these states.

The Scheduling Process

The Texas Controlled Substances Act categorizes controlled substances into schedules that are based on the substances’ potential for abuse, including:

  • Schedule I – Those substances in Schedule I have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. Examples include heroin, LSD, PCP, mushrooms, peyote, and crack cocaine. While marijuana is also a Schedule I drug, marijuana charges and penalties form their own separate class.

  • Schedule II – Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, which includes the potential to cause severe physical or psychological dependence. These substances are accepted for medical use with restrictions, and examples include morphine, cocaine, methadone, oxycodone (Percodan), OxyContin, methylphenidate (Ritalin), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine).

  • Schedule III – Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse, which translates to the potential for moderate to low physical or high psychological dependence. Examples include products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with Codeine), Suboxone, anabolic steroids, and ketamine.

  • Schedule IV – Schedule IV substances have a lower potential for abuse that may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. Examples include barbital, phenobarbital, alprazolam (Xanax), Valium, Darvon, and Darvocet.

  • Schedule V - Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse that may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence. These drugs consist primarily of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotic and stimulant drugs (generally for antitussive, antidiarrheal, or analgesic purposes). Examples include buprenorphine and propylhexedrine.

Penalties and fines for convictions are naturally tiered in accordance with the schedule of substance involved.

Scheduling Requirements

The scheduling requirements (at the federal and, thus, the state level in Texas) that guide how substances are controlled – which relates to adding to the schedule classifications or transferring substances between schedules – or decontrolled – which means being removed from control (and, therefore, from the schedules) – involve the following factors:

  • The drug’s actual or relative potential for abuse

  • Current scientific knowledge related to the drug

  • Scientific evidence, if available, of the drug’s pharmacological effects

  • Any public health risk the drug poses

  • The drug’s history and any related pattern of abuse

  • The scope, significance, and duration of abuse in relation to the drug

  • The drug’s liability regarding psychological or physiological dependence

  • Whether or not the drug is an immediate precursor of a drug that is already in the schedules

The Penalties and Fines

The penalties and fines associated with drug convictions in Texas are naturally as complicated as the charges themselves. Penalties are grouped into six classifications, and the classifications vary in accordance with whether the charge relates to manufacture or delivery as opposed to simple possession. A charge for possession of the same drug in the same quantity is typically one degree lower than it is for either manufacture or delivery. The judge presiding over your case will use these classifications in the determination of your sentence (if convicted).

Is It a State or Federal Crime?

With the federal and state drug schedules and all the cross-referencing, understanding whether your charges are state or federal can be difficult. In general, drug crimes within the State of Texas are prosecuted at the state level. There are, however, exceptions that apply, including the following:

  • If charged while crossing a state or national border

  • If the charge involves organized crime or gang activity

  • If the federal government has a stake in the charge

Federal offenses are even more serious offenses with even more serious penalties.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Harker Heights Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are facing a drug charge in the State of Texas, the time to take action is now. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Harker Heights, Texas, is an accomplished criminal defense attorney with a wealth of impressive experience successfully protecting the constitutional rights of clients like you. Your future is far too important to leave to chance, so please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 to learn more about how we can help you today.

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