Penalties for drug trafficking under both Texas and federal law are severe with a litany of collateral consequences.
The Texas Controlled Substances Act defines drug trafficking as the manufacture, “delivery” or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
Federal drug trafficking laws generally refer to the sale and distribution of illegal drugs. Drug trafficking is generally defined as “an offense under federal, state, or local law that prohibits the manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) or the possession of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) with intent to manufacture, import, export, distribute, or dispense.” The federal Controlled Substance Act has five Schedules of prohibited drugs.
Under Texas law, felony drug trafficking penalties range from lower end state jail felonies, which threaten 2 years in a state jail facility and possible fines up to $10,000, to the most serious first degree felonies, which carry the possibility of 15 to 99 years, or life, in prison with fines up to $250,000.00.
Under federal law, some drug crimes carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years, 10 years, or even life imprisonment without the benefit of parole. The fines can vary from $2 million to $20 million.
All federal and state drug trafficking laws, and their penalties, are dependent upon weight and measurement. For example, if you possess a certain amount of drugs that exceed the legally determined amount, you can be charged with a more serious drug trafficking offense.
Below, we’ve explored six of the most commonly trafficked drugs along with some of the potential penalties for trafficking these types of substances.
Cannabis. Cannabis, or marijuana, is harvested from a hemp plant. This type of drug was typically trafficked from Mexico and sources in Central America, but is now increasingly grown and distributed from domestic sources. The penalties for trafficking large amounts of cannabis or marijuana may include up to a lifetime in prison and millions of dollars in fines, depending on factors such as the amount involved, whether death or serious bodily injury occurred, if it was a repeat offense, and whether the incident crossed state lines.
Cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant, a species of flora native to South America. The trafficking of powder and crack cocaine occurs everywhere in America, including the cities and suburban areas of Texas. Much like the legal consequences of trafficking marijuana, the penalties for trafficking cocaine may include up to a life in prison and millions of dollars in fines, depending on factors such as the amount involved, whether death or serious bodily injury occurred, if it was a repeat offense, and whether the incident crossed state lines.
Heroin. Heroin is an opioid that is made from a substance found in Asian opium poppies called morphine. In Texas, heroin use is again reaching epidemic levels and our state has seen an alarming rise in heroin overdose-related deaths. If you are charged with heroin trafficking, you could be penalized up to a lifetime in prison and millions in fines depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Methamphetamine. This is a highly addictive stimulant that has become increasingly common across the US. The penalties for drug trafficking crimes involving methamphetamines may include up to a lifetime in prison and millions in fines, depending on your situation.
MDMA. MDMA is a synthetic psychoactive drug sometimes referred to as ecstasy or Molly. If you are charged with a drug trafficking crime involving MDMA, you may be penalized with up to a lifetime in prison and millions in fines, depending on factors such as amount and whether death or bodily injury was involved.
LSD. LSD is a hallucinogen made from lysergic acid, which is also found naturally in a fungus that grows on certain types of grains. The penalties for drug trafficking crimes involving LSD are very serious and can be similar to the penalties described for the aforementioned substances.
What to Do if You Have Been Charged with Drug Trafficking in Texas
Whether you are facing state or federal charges, you will need aggressive legal representation if you wish to avoid tough penalties effecting your freedom and future. All drug trafficking charges carry the potential for prison sentences, staggering fines, and a lifelong criminal record. With a criminal record in Texas, you may have a hard time finding employment, obtaining housing, or securing loans for the rest of your life.
However, a drug trafficking charge in Texas does not necessarily mean a drug trafficking conviction. There are many potentially effective defenses for drug trafficking crimes that a talented drug crimes attorney will use to your advantage. For instance, your attorney could demonstrate that your arresting officers did not have probable cause to search your home, vehicle, or person. He or she could also attempt to show that you were a victim of entrapment, or argue that the drugs belonged to someone else or were not intended for human consumption.
If you believe you are being investigated for a drug trafficking crime, or have already been arrested or charged with this type of offense, consult with a knowledgeable attorney with experience in drug trafficking defense immediately. Your lawyer can listen to your side of the story before helping you determine the best possible defense in your unique circumstances. With the help of a drug crimes attorney with a successful track record, you may be able to avoid crippling consequences to your freedom and future.