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Does a Conviction on a Drug Charge Always Mean Jail Time?

Blogs from March, 2022

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If you are arrested and charged with a drug crime in Texas, your first thought may be “Will I go to jail?” In many cases, the answer is probably no, but you could still face some serious legal penalties, so you should be advised and represented by a San Marcos drug crimes attorney.

Which drug crimes are likely to be penalized with time in a Texas jail or prison, and which are not? What other penalties may be imposed if you are convicted of a drug offense? If you are charged with a drug crime in Texas, what are your rights, and what steps will you need to take?

If you’ll continue reading this brief discussion of drug crimes and your rights, these questions will be answered, and you will also learn why having the advice and services of a San Marcos drug crimes lawyer is imperative if you face any drug charge in or near the San Marcos area.

How Are Convictions for Drug Crimes Penalized?

Unless you have prior convictions or you violated probation, a conviction in Texas on a simple drug possession charge probably won’t be penalized with a jail or prison term. Most convictions for simple drug possession in Texas are penalized with community service, fines, and probation.

Drug Possession Graphic

For several decades, the criminal courts in Texas and across the nation have determined that, as a general rule of thumb, jailing offenders for simple drug possession, if the drug was intended only for the offender’s personal use, simply is not the best use of limited criminal justice resources.

The idea that prisons are filled with offenders who were convicted of nonviolent drug possession crimes is a myth. Many offenders who are in prison on a drug charge were also convicted of a more serious crime (a robbery or an assault, for example) or have a number of prior convictions.

How Should You Deal With a Drug Possession Charge?

However, and whether or not you are innocent or guilty, if you are charged with illegal drug possession in or near the San Marcos area, you must contact a San Marcos drug crimes attorney – who will develop an effective defense strategy on your behalf – as quickly as you can.

As you probably know, to convict you of illegal drug possession (or any other crime), the state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. At a trial, your defense attorney’s job is to cast enough doubt on the state’s evidence to persuade the jury to return a not guilty verdict.

In your defense, your attorney may be able to show that you were not in actual possession of the illegal drug, or your attorney may be able to offer evidence that the police conducted an unlawful search and seizure without probable cause (and the case against you should be dismissed).

How Are Other Drug Crimes Handled in Texas?

Texas enforces scores of drug laws. The penalty for a drug sales conviction depends on the type of drug, the quantity of the drug, and the defendant’s previous convictions if any.

However, you probably will not be sent to jail or prison for selling a small quantity of marijuana unless minors or firearms were involved, you have previous drug convictions, or you are also charged with a more serious crime.

On the other hand, a conviction for selling a large quantity of methamphetamine, for example, will probably send you to a Texas state prison for quite a long time, even for a first offense and even if you have no criminal history and were charged with no other crimes.

Illegal Drug Sales Graphic

In addition to a prison term, some convictions for illegal drug sales may trigger the revocation of your driver’s license, the seizure of your property, and the loss of your voting rights and gun rights. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, an illegal drug sales conviction could lead to a deportation.

What Else Will a Drug Crimes Attorney Do on Your Behalf?

If you are innocent of a drug charge, a San Marcos drug crimes lawyer will act to have the case against you dropped or dismissed. If those options are not available, you have the right to a jury trial, where your defense lawyer will explain to the jurors why they should find you not guilty.

However, if you struggle personally with a drug addiction or abuse issue, and the charge against you is your first offense, you may qualify for pretrial diversion or deferred adjudication, and you should probably take advantage of the opportunity to deal with your drug addiction or abuse.

How Does Pretrial Diversion Work?

In pretrial diversion, a defendant “admits” guilt, but instead of formally entering a plea or going to trial, the defendant is offered drug counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation. Upon completing the program, the charge will be dismissed and the case record will be eligible for expungement.

However, if you enter into a pretrial diversion program and you subsequently fail to meet the program’s requirements, you could be ordered to stand trial – after admitting that you are guilty of the drug charge – and face the standard penalties for a drug crime conviction.

What Is Deferred Adjudication?

Pretrial diversion and deferred adjudication are comparable, but with deferred adjudication, you must formally enter a guilty plea rather than simply “admitting” guilt. You must satisfy certain requirements, and if you are successful, the judge will eventually dismiss the charge.

If you are offered pretrial diversion or deferred adjudication, do not accept the offer in haste. Consider it thoughtfully, and be certain that you obtain the advice and insights of your drug crimes defense attorney before you make any binding decision.

Attorney Client Graphic

You probably do not want to admit guilt or plead guilty when a jury might find you not guilty. Your defense attorney will know if the state’s case against you is strong or weak. Your attorney will help you weigh your options and make the decision that is in your best long-term interests.

What Else Should You Know About Drug Crimes in Texas?

Although you may not be penalized with a jail or prison term for a simple drug possession charge, you can’t know that for sure until an attorney reviews your case – an attorney who routinely and effectively represents clients charged with drug violations.

Whether the drug charge against you is a serious felony like heroin or methamphetamine trafficking or a low-level marijuana-related misdemeanor, if you are placed under arrest, exercise your right to remain silent – except to insist on your right to legal counsel – and contact a Texas drug crimes attorney as quickly as possible.

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