Meth Charges in Texas

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Methamphetamine has become a significant concern throughout the country, and the State of Texas takes the matter very seriously. In Texas, law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts tend to draw a hard line when it comes to drug charges in general and to meth charges in particular.

If you’re facing a meth possession charge, the stakes are high, and you shouldn’t wait to seek the skilled legal guidance of an experienced Round Rock criminal defense attorney.

Drug Penalty Groups in Texas

The laws that apply to the illegal possession of a controlled substance in the State of Texas are guided by the Texas Health and Safety Code, the Penal Code, and the Controlled Substances Act. In the state, controlled substances are divided into four distinct groups that include two sub-penalty groups that breakdown as follows:

  • Penalty Group 1 – Penalty Group 1 includes those drugs that are most likely to be abused, that are most closely associated with addiction, and that have no recognized medical use. Meth is included in this category. From here, each group decreases in legal severity in accordance with how dangerous the drug is, as balanced by its medical usefulness.

  • Penalty Group 1A – Penalty Group 1A includes lysergic acid and LSD.

  • Penalty Group 1B – Penalty Group 1B includes fentanyl.

  • Penalty Group 2 – Penalty Group 2 includes mushrooms, and psilocybin.

  • Penalty Group 3 – Penalty Group 3 includes anabolic steroids, Xanax, and lorazepam.

  • Penalty Group 4 – Penalty Group 4 includes compounds with small amounts of codeine or opium.

It’s worth noting that a marijuana possession charge is treated somewhat differently and is in something of a class all its own.

A drug charge that involves meth in Texas is a Penalty Group 1 charge, which makes it the most serious level, and the related fines and penalties are especially harsh.

A Meth Possession Charge

To be convicted of a Penalty Group 1 possession charge, you must have knowingly or intentionally possessed a controlled substance that is listed in Group 1, which includes methamphetamine. The elements that must be proven to convict you include the following:

  • That you possessed the meth knowingly or intentionally

  • That the methamphetamine was in your possession

  • That the substance in question was, in fact, methamphetamine, which qualifies as a Penalty Group 1 controlled substance

Let’s consider each element in more detail.

Knowingly or Intentionally

For you to be in knowing possession of methamphetamine, you must have known that your actions could lead to a specific result. For example, if you grabbed a bag that belonged to someone else and you knew that it contained meth, the element of knowing that you were in possession of an illegal drug is likely established.

If, however, you borrowed the same bag but had no knowledge of its contents, the element of prior knowledge probably isn’t there. It’s important to point out that it can be exceptionally challenging to prove what someone knew or didn’t know at any given time.

The matter of intentionality is similar to the matter of prior knowledge. For example, if you keep meth in your bedroom, you very likely intend to use it, but if you purchase a chair from a second-hand store that unbeknownst to you has meth squirreled away in it, the element of intentionality is missing.

Possession

The element of possession relates to exercising actual care, custody, control, or management of the meth. If the drugs are found on your person it can be very difficult to disprove the element of possession, but the search of your body must be conducted within the confines of the law for any evidence the authorities fine to be used against you.

In a Vehicle

If you are in a vehicle with other people, in a vehicle that other people use, or in a vehicle that other people ride in, the matter of possession of any meth found in the vehicle can be hazy. For example, simply knowing that one of the people in the car with you has meth on them probably doesn’t rise to the level of supporting a conviction against you.

If, however, you’re in the back seat alone and are sitting next to a backpack that you know contains meth, the state may have a solid case against you.

Being in an enclosed vehicle with other people and meth – or any illegal drug – puts you in a delicate position. The closer you are to the drug, however, can – depending on the circumstances – help the authorities connect the dots in terms of a possession charge.

In an Apartment or House

If the meth in question is found in an apartment or house, the matter of who is in possession becomes more challenging still. Factors that can make a significant difference include all the following:

  • The matter of where the drug was found

  • The matter of who had access to the area where the drug was found

  • The matter of whether or not anyone’s personal items were in the vicinity of the drug that was found

  • The matter of who had access to the space in question

  • The matter of who actually used the space in question – in contrast to who had access to it

  • The matter of whether or not anyone’s fingerprints were found on the drug’s packaging

If your roommate purchases meth, keeps it hidden from you, and doesn’t discuss the matter with you – and if you know nothing about the matter – you are unlikely to be legally implicated. In fact, the spouses, friends, and loved ones of those who use illegal drugs like meth are often the last to know.

It is a different matter, however, if the police come to your apartment for a noise complaint and see the drug paraphernalia associated with meth spread out on your coffee table in full view. In this instance, distancing yourself from the element of possession becomes more difficult.

Outdoors

Drug charges that relate to drugs found outdoors generally involve cases in which the police give chase – or when a suspect is stopped on the street and questioned.

When a defendant is running from the police, which is a terrible idea in the first place, and throws something away from themself in the process, the police are going to search the area in order to find whatever it is that was thrown. If it happens to be an illegal drug, such as meth, it may support a possession charge.

It’s important to note that, when it comes to running from the police, it is translated to mean consciousness of guilt. In other words, the jury who hears your case will know that you ran from the police, and this fact will be interpreted to mean that you ran because you wanted to hide your guilt, which sets the stage for an uphill battle in terms of your defense.

 

To prove the element of possession, the state must establish that you weren’t simply near the drug in question but instead had some kind of control over it, which can take many forms. The state is required to affirmatively link you to the drug, which helps establish your knowledge of its presence.

This is distinct from someone else having put or left the meth where it was found.

Although the State of Texas must prove knowing possession of the meth in question, they are not required to prove ownership. The element of possession can be satisfied for a meth charge if you are deemed in possession of the drug – regardless of whether or not you own it.

An Illegal Substance

Finally, the last element of a drug charge is proving that the substance in question is actually an illegal drug, which in the case of a meth charge is methamphetamine. The officers will identify the drug by sight, and the matter will be confirmed through chemical testing.

The Evidence That Is Likely to Be Used Against You

When seeking a conviction for a drug possession charge, the state is likely to employ a wide range of evidence to build their case.

The Drug Itself

The case against you is likely to include the meth itself, which the prosecution may bring into the courtroom as a form of direct evidence. Doing so establishes not only that the illegal substance exists but also provides the jury with a visual reference regarding how much of the drug is involved in your case.

Drug Expert Testimony

The prosecution is also likely to bring in drug experts who work in the state crime lab to verify that the substance in question is, in fact, methamphetamine, which is in Penalty Group 1. Generally, the experts share the results of chemical tests in the course of their testimony.

Witness Testimony

Meth possession charges often involve the testimony of witnesses. This can include anyone who saw any aspect of the possession charge or who witnessed anything that helps corroborate the prosecution's case.

Officer Testimony

Many meth possession cases hinge on the testimony of the officer or officers who made the original arrest, which often begin with simple traffic stops. When a traffic stop supports a vehicle search, and meth – or any other illegal drug – is found in the process, it can lead to arrest for meth possession. Officer testimony can play a very important role in these cases.

Video Footage

In some cases, there is footage from commercial and private security cameras or street cameras that help establish the matter of possession. This type of evidence can also help establish when a possession case is part of a bigger overall operation that is intended for distribution, which is a more serious crime.

Fines and Penalties

The fines and penalties for possession of meth in Texas are based on the amount involved. Consider the following breakdown:

  • Less than a gram – When the amount of meth in your possession is less than a gram, it can be charged as a state jail felony that carries a jail sentence of from 180 days to two years and fines of up to $10,000. For this amount, however, there is a chance that a conviction won’t lead to jail time.

  • From 1 gram to less than 4 grams – When the amount of meth in your possession is from 1 gram to less than 4 grams, it can be charged as a third-degree felony that carries from 2 to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

  • From 4 grams to 199 grams – When the amount of meth in your possession is from 4 grams to 199 grams, it can be charged as a second-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of from 2 to 20 years and fines of up to $10,000.

  • From 200 to 399 grams – When the amount of meth in your possession is from 200 to 999 grams, it can be charged as a first-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of from 5 to 99 years, or life, and fines of up to $10,0000. Unless the charge is enhanced, this is the highest meth possession charge in Texas.

  • 400 grams or more– When the amount of meth in your possession is 400 grams or more, it can be charged as an enhanced first-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of from 10 to 99 years, or life, and fines of up to $100,000.

Seek the Legal Counsel of an Experienced Round Rock Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is a formidable Round Rock criminal defense attorney who recognizes the immensity of your meth possession charge and is well prepared to unleash the full force of his decades of experience in pursuit of your case’s best possible resolution.

For more information about what we can do to help you, please don’t put off reaching out and contacting or calling us at 254-781-4222 to schedule your free consultation today.

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