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Drug crimes: how penalties are determined and potential defenses

Texans who are arrested for drug possession will be understandably fearful of what the future holds. The prospect of jail time, fines, lost standing in the community and a criminal record might seem to be too much to bear. Those who are not involved in the sale of drugs but possessed it for their own use will face different consequences than those who are selling drugs. Regardless of the situation, people who are arrested for drug offenses have the right to a defense. In the immediate aftermath of the arrest, it is vital to understand how the potential penalties are determined and what defenses are available.

There are certain basic factors that will determine what the penalty will be. The type of drug is important. If it is marijuana - a drug that is increasingly being treated as negligible - the penalties will be less than if the person possesses methamphetamine or heroin. The amount of the drug is also important. If it is an amount where the person is perceived to be selling it, then it will be worse than possession for personal use. The storing and concealment of the drug will be assessed. Whether there was drug paraphernalia and what it was - scales vs. a pipe for smoking the drug - will be key. And, if the person has convictions in the past, this will be a factor in the level of penalties for the latest charges.

When confronted with drug charges, there are many ways to defend against the allegations. The absence of knowledge of having had the drug in the person's possession could be surprisingly viable. If the drug was not meant for human consumption, that is a pathway to defend against the charges. A drug might have been part of a newly approved application under the law. The person could have a legal prescription for the drug. The amount might not be sufficient for charges. Or, it might be medical marijuana, which is now legal in Texas.

As intimidating as it can be when there is an arrest on drug charges, it is critical to lodge a defense. Treatment could be an alternative rather than incarceration. A plea bargain could be possible. Or, the evidence could be lacking, so it may be possible to obtain an acquittal. A crucial step is having a lawyer who is experienced in defending clients arrested for drug crimes.

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