If you or a loved face severe criminal punishments and penalties for being convicted of possessing or distributing methamphetamines (commonly known as meth, speed, crystal or ice), then it's vital you speak with a defense attorney who thoroughly understands Texas drug crime law and has the experience to build a strong defense strategy.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for possession or distribution of meth or another illegal drug, do not delay in seeking help. It is vital you reach out to veteran Houston drug crime defense lawyer Neal Davis.
In the meantime, continue reading to learn about federal and state meth possession penalties in Texas.
The range of meth punishments in Texas is wide and can include extreme penalties. That's because Texas' meth problem has grown to epidemic proportions in recent years, prompting law officers, judges, and courts to take tougher positions against the drug and those accused of possessing it.
Under Texas laws, meth is classified with the most dangerous and addictive drugs. Those convicted of meth possession can be subjected to the most harsh punishments and penalties, including prison time.
How are meth punishments determined?
Largely that depends on the amount of meth the defendant is believed to have possessed. Other factors for meth punishment include the defendant's criminal history, if any, and particular details of the case.
Under Texas meth laws:
|Quantity of Meth||Felony Classification||Penalty|
|Less than 1 gram||State jail felony||Up to 2 years in prison and $10,000 fine|
|1 - 3.99 grams||Third degree||2 - 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine|
|4 - 199 grams||Second degree||2 - 20 years in prison and $10,000 fine|
|200 - 399 grams||First degree||5 - 99 years in prison and $10,000 fine|
|400+ grams||Enhanced first degree||10 - 99 years in prison and $100,000 fine|
Clearly, defendants with a large amount of meth can have a simple possession charge raised to a charge of possession with intent to distribute, for which penalties are drastically more severe.
Punishments also increase if the defendant was arrested around children or in a school zone.
Defendants also may face federal charges for meth possession involving a wide range of federal meth punishments.
Such punishments and meth penalties became more severe in 2005 with passage of the Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. It also set severe restrictions on legal uses of meth.
Under federal meth law, those convicted of having any amount more than 5 grams face a minimum of 5 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison. Possessing 50 grams or more carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Even those with under 5 grams of meth can face federal prison time for a guilty conviction. For over 5 grams, the federal penalty can be 5 to 40 years in prison. If death or serious injury was involved, penalties can double.
Also, federal fines for meth possession can range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars.
As for how likely a prison sentence may be for meth possession in Texas, that can depend on details of the case and the quality of the meth defense lawyer engaged by the defendant.
A majority of Texas meth cases are resolved by what's known as a "plea agreement." A plea deal is when a meth defense attorney negotiates with the prosecution to reduce charges or secure a more lenient sentence in exchange for a plea of guilt.
Through such a plea agreement, your meth defense lawyer may be able to significantly reduce your prison sentence or perhaps even bargain for no prison sentence whatsoever.
Related reading: Why Are Criminal Charges Dropped or Dismissed?
Without pleading guilty in a plea agreement, defendants also can prevail in court with various meth charge defenses.
Your meth defense lawyer's defense against a meth charge can include challenging police testimony and the sufficiency of evidence. Also, if meth was legally prescribed by a healthcare provider, that can be a defense.
Your meth defense lawyer also can challenge the constitutionality of the stop, search or interrogation which led to the arrest. For instance, if police performed a search without a warrant or probable cause, the evidence gained might be suppressed in court.
Similarly, your meth defense lawyer can argue in your favor if you were arrested for meth possession after police made an illegal traffic stop, or a stop for insufficient reason.
Related reading: Can Police Search My Car Without a Warrant?
Also, keep in mind that meth convictions depend on proving that the defendant intended to possess the drug. Innocent bystanders may have had the drug planted on them or may have been in the vicinity of another person's meth.
If meth is found in a house, that doesn't mean everyone in the house is guilty of possessing meth. Prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person in that house intended to possess the meth.
Depending on the jurisdiction, what is known as a "drug court" can help defendants. Such drug courts are available in Houston and Harris County, Texas.
Drug courts are set up to encourage and enable rehabilitation of drug defendants, instead of prison time. Drug court programs keep an eye on defendants and require attendance for drug treatment, as well as ensure defendants keep a job and are able to pass random drug tests. Defendants are also expected to appear before a judge regularly so their progress can be assessed.
Harris County District Courts have a drug court program known as STAR, or Success Through Addiction Recovery. STAR courts have four dockets which serve more than 140 drug defendants yearly.
As Harris County courts put it, the STAR program is:
"...more cost effective than traditional incarcerations by reducing recidivism (a return to criminal behavior). Further, Drug Courts save money by preventing future arrests and incarcerations."
Many people face meth charges since meth arrests are rising. Across Texas and nationwide, meth arrests occur on a regular basis.
In December 2016, 15 people were arrested after an investigation into a central Texas meth distribution ring centered in Waco. Earlier that year, 11 women were indicted in a meth bust in Dallas. Also, in summer of 2016, the Texas Department of Public Safety arrested 15 gang members in Austin in a meth bust.
In January 2017, three people were arrested and charged in Galveston County after a meth investigation into manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance. And, in April 2017, two women in Henderson County were arrested in a meth bust.
Not all individuals arrested for meth possession are guilty and deserve to face prison time. If you or a loved need help with your Houston area case, talk to a knowledgeable meth defense lawyer at the Neal Davis Law Firm.
Continue reading: How the Exclusionary Rule Can Help Win Your Drug Case