Common Drug Crime Questions

Answers from a Seasoned Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer

Having a drug crime charge brought against you is a frightening thing, especially under Texas' harsh drug laws. There are a number of things that you may be wondering about when you're facing a drug charge concerning possible punishments and how you can be defended. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about drug crimes. Reach out to a Houston criminal defense attorney from the firm for further questions.

What does a "possession" charge actually mean in Houston?
According to the Texas Controlled Substances Act, possession of a controlled substance means "actual care, custody, management or control" of an illegal drug. When the prosecution is charging someone with a possession charge, there are two factors considered that will determine the type of charge: the type of drug possessed and the amount possessed. In Texas, a possession of marijuana charge only requires possession of a usable amount. Possession charges involving cocaine or heroin are determined by the total weight of the substance, including dilutants. A possession charge will require the prosecution to prove that the defendant knew he or she was in the possession of the controlled substance and that the defendant was in possession of it long enough to have disposed of it if they chose to do so.

What if the police conducted an unwarranted search?
By law, police are required to obtain a court-issued warrant in order to conduct a search of and seize evidence from a suspect's private property for most situations. If an unlawful search is conducted, the prosecution will be banned from using any of the evidence obtained from that search. This is known as the exclusionary rule. Furthermore, any evidence that is obtained through the excluded evidence will be thrown out as well because it is considered "fruit of the poisonous tree." While an unlawful search will not mean that the charges are dismissed, it may keep the prosecution from using certain evidence against the defendant.

Is there any way to keep a drug crime offense off of my permanent record in Texas?
Once you have been charged with a drug offense, there are three main ways to keep a conviction off of your criminal record. The first is to have the charges dropped or your case dismissed altogether. The second way is to be pronounced "not guilty" by a jury after the trial process. Lastly, you may be able to avoid a conviction on your record if your Houston drug crime attorney helps you obtain deferred adjudication probation. This means that you will be on probation automatically but that the charges will be dismissed once you complete that probation.

What is a grand jury? Will I have to appear before one?
Much like a trial jury, a grand jury is made up of local residents selected and sworn in to hear arguments by opposing parties. However, the job of a grand jury is to examine the validity of an accusation before a formal charge is issued. Grand juries are a part of federal criminal procedure and will hear the arguments from the prosecuting attorneys of why the defendant should be indicted and then hear the defense case of the defendant presented by his or her lawyer. Grand juries are usually made up of twenty three jurors and indictment hearings are closed to the public. You will likely only appear before a grand jury if you are suspected of a federal crime.

What are some common legal challenges in a drug case?
Drug cases, much like DUI cases, are completely built upon the evidence that is compiled against you by the prosecution. This means that if a valid challenge is brought against their evidence against you, it is possible that the prosecution's case will lose its strength. Your accusers will be required to prove your guilt "beyond reasonable doubt" and if their evidence or methods are legitimately challenged, they may be unable to convince the court.

What is criminal forfeiture?
Forfeiture is a controversial method used by federal and state law enforcement to fight the ongoing "way on drugs." Under criminal forfeiture guidelines, property that is reasonably suspected to be involved in illegal activity may be seized by the government. Property that may be seized as a part of forfeiture includes contraband, which is illegal property to own under any circumstances, proceeds from illegal activity and any instruments used in the commission of the suspected crime. When someone is convicted of a drug crime, criminal forfeiture may be included as a part of their sentence. This means that the government will seize their property.

What are Schedules of controlled substances?
Texas has established five distinct Schedules of controlled substances as a part of its Controlled Substances Act. This allows state and federal law enforcement to apply the appropriate charges and penalties upon defendants based upon the schedule of the controlled substance involved. Drugs are categorized based on medical use, rate of abuse, potential for abuse and potential for severe dependence.

Can I get off if I am charged with possession of marijuana?

Every case has unique evidence, witnesses and circumstances. The simple answer is that if certain elements are present in your case, you can avoid conviction. These elements include errors in police procedure, rights violations in the initial police stop and subsequent search and seizure, and some others. Do you know if your rights were violated in the arrest or search that led to charges against you? I'd like to speak with you about what actually happened, as soon as possible.

Will I go to jail for prescription drug possession?

The penalties imposed upon a person for prescription drug possession will be based upon several factors, including a prior criminal record, the quantity and type of the drug, and whether there was prescription fraud involved. Those who are charge who are in the medical or pharmaceutical professions could lose a professional license and be unable to practice in the future. There is some degree of leeway in how penalties are imposed. Prescription drugs are listed under Penalty Group 3, and could carry some very significant penalties without help from a highly professional and experienced criminal trial attorney in Houston. Let me look into the facts in your case at once.

How do I choose a defense lawyer for a drug crime case?

You need to look at experience, knowledge and case results. I have some advantages in defending against drug crimes. I served as a prosecutor for 5 years, and have 10 years in practice as a criminal defense lawyer. I am proud to have been named one of Houston's Top Lawyers by H Texas Magazine. I have worked within the criminal justice system long enough to know that the quality of the criminal defense lawyer is the most important factor in whether you serve time, or walk away without serious damage.

If you have more questions about drug crimes in Houston or if you need the assistance of a qualified Houston drug crime lawyer, contact Mark Morasch, Attorney at Law today.

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