Business ownership implies knowledge and responsibility for that happens in your business, even criminal activity.
A Texas club owner recently learned about this long reach of the law in the business community. He is now facing conspiracy to manage a drug premises, managing a drug premises, and conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute – all due to dealings in his nightclub.
The state contends that he allowed others to deal drugs out of the restrooms at his club in an effort to attract business. That placed him in just as much legal jeopardy as if he had dealt the drugs himself.
Here’s what all business owners need to know about crimes committed on their premises. We’ll go into why you should always try to know what’s happening at your business and why it’s worth putting a stop to illegal activity – unless you want to face similar charges.
Managing a Drug Premises: What Is It?
For both “conspiracy to manage a drug premises” and “managing a drug premises”, you may be wondering what those charges mean exactly. You’re not alone. It’s not a charge people often hear, but it is a serious one.
First and foremost, conspiracy occurs when two or more people plot together to commit an illegal act. An action must be taken to further the agreement, but the actual crime doesn’t have to take place in order to be charged or convicted for conspiracy. Incidentally, the penalties for conspiracy to commit crimes mirror the penalties for the crime as if it had occurred.
So, in this case, conspiracy to manage a drug premises would have the same penalty as managing a drug premises – both the planning and the following through to commit the crime are crimes themselves.
As far as managing a drug premises, this charge comes into play when a location is used for more than one purpose. In this case, the owner of the club was both managing a club – a legitimate undertaking – while also allowing others to deal drugs there.
It is against the law to knowingly open, maintain, rent, use, or lease a place for the purpose of distributing a controlled substance. Furthermore, it’s illegal to control a place as an owner, agent, mortgagee, lessee, occupant, or employee while knowingly and intentionally profiting from or making available for using the place to unlawfully distribute a controlled substance.
The penalty for this crime is up to 20 years in prison and fines of as much as $500,000. An entity other than an individual – commonly, a corporation – can be fined up to $2 million.
Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute
Controlled substances, such as cocaine, are illegal in Texas and under Federal law, for a person to possess and distribute. This law is outlined in the Texas Controlled Substances Act, an act that makes manufacturing, possessing, or distributing drugs illegal in the state. However, to be successfully prosecuted for the intent to distribute, a person must have knowingly intended to distribute the drug.
The Texas Controlled Substances Act also classifies drugs by group. The drug group of which a person is caught in possession or distributing will impact the penalties they face for doing so.
Cocaine is considered a Group 1 substance under Texas law, because it has a high rate of abuse. The penalties associated with this group of drugs depend on how much was found in possession:
Four Grams or Less
This amount with the intent to distribute can result in up to 20 years in prison and fines of as much as $10,000. It is considered a second-degree felony.
Between Four and 200 Grams
Another second-degree felony, being found in possession of an amount in this range with the intent to distribute can send a person to prison for as many as 99 years. Also, a $10,000 fine may be required to be paid.
200 Grams or More
Considered a first-degree felony, having this amount of cocaine with the intent to distribute can send you to jail for 99 years and also make you responsible for fines of as much as $250,000.
Being Charged With a Drug Crime?
It’s very serious to be charged with a drug crime in Texas, so if you find yourself facing one or many counts, it’s vital to have an experienced attorney on your side. They can work with you to formulate the best defense for your case since they’ve handled many types of drug crime charges.
Being charged with any crime is disturbing, but facing life in prison isn’t something you should do alone.