Texas has some of the harshest narcotics laws in the country. Even first-time offenders can be sentenced to years in prison for drug possession. The penalties for simple drug possession in the Lone Star State vary depending on the type and quantity of the controlled substance involved, but proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally and knowingly had control of or possessed illegal drugs is not always simple for prosecutors.
Other factors that may influence sentencing include the lengths to which the defendant went to conceal the drugs and their previous brushes with the law. The list of penalties can be found in Section 481 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act, and they range from 180 days in a county jail for Class B misdemeanor marijuana possession to 99 years behind bars for first-degree felony drug possession. Those convicted of possessing drugs with the intent to distribute them face even harsher penalties.
In addition to jail time, individuals convicted of drug possession in Texas can be ordered to pay fines ranging from $4,000 to $250,000. They may also lose their driving privileges and be required to participate in drug counseling sessions and submit to regular toxicology testing while on probation or parole.
Prosecutors can only pursue drug possession cases when illegal drugs seized by law enforcement are admissible in court. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have this evidence excluded and narcotics charges dismissed if police executed search warrants that were obtained based on questionable arguments. When police officers appear to have acted properly, attorneys could seek more lenient drug possession sentences during plea negotiations by citing mitigating factors that could portray their clients in a more favorable light.