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Types of Drug Charges


It is an offense under both state and federal law to be in possession of any controlled substance and this is the most common charge filed involving drugs.  Possession is defined as the actual care, custody, control or management.  Actual possession refers to actualy physical possession of a controlled substance while constructive possession usually is alleged when the controlled substance was found in an area where the person had access to or otherwise excerised control over (such as the trunk of a car or a safe).  This means that while a person can be charged with possession of a controlled substance even if the controlled substance was not actually found on the person, the charges can be challenged on the basis that the person did not exercise care, custody or control over the substance.  The focus in those cases is on whether the government can prove the person had "affirmative links" to the controlled substance.  We have successfully challenged a client's accusation of possession of controlled substance by making the case that there were no "affirmative links" to our client and the controlled substance. 


It is an offense under both state and federal law to deliver or to have an intent to deliver a controlled substance.  "Deliver" means to transfer, actually or constructively, to another person and includes offering to sell a controlled substance as well.  Therefore, money does not have to actually be exchanged, and the "middleman" who helped arrange the transaction can also be prosecuted under this theory.  Under federal law, the most commonly charged delivery offense is possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver.  Under that type of charge, the government does not have to prove that you actually delivered the substance, but only that you had an intent to do so.  Most often, the government will attempt to this intent based on the large quantity of drugs found, or the possession of other indicators including scales, baggies, or cutting agents.


It is an offense under both state and federal law to manufacture a controlled substance.  Manufacturing refers to the production or creation of drugs and is most commonly prosecuted in cases involving marijuana grow operations or meth labs.  It is also a crime to possess certain drug precursors with the intent to manufacture and pharmacies now vigilantly monitor the sales of commonly used precursors such as certain cold medicines, matches, and lighter fluid.   


One of the most frequently charged drug offenses in federal court is conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, which involves actively planning with others to possess or distribute a controlled substance, regardless of actual possession or delivery.  This is typically the most serious type of drug accusation and usually involves multiple defendants and large quantities of drugs and can be extremely serious and complicated.  


Due to the skyrocketing methamphetamine problem, the penalties for possession, delivery and manufacturing of methamphetamine have become extremely severe.  In addition, in Texas, depending on the quantity, there is a 15-20 mandatory minimum sentence if a child younger than 18 years of age was present on when the manufacturing of a controlled substance offense occurred.  In an effort to combat methamphetamine production, many counties in Texas have implemented "Meth Watch" programs which record and monitor over-the-counter cold medicines, prescription drugs, and household ingredients which are used to manufacture methamphetamine.    


It is an offense to possess or distribute even the smallest amount of cocaine.  For example, even if there is a trace amount of cocaine found in a baggie, you can still be charged with possession of a cocaine which is a felony.  In the federal system, the penalties for cocaine base (crack cocaine) are notoriously severe.  In fact, the sentences for possession of cocaine base were so severe, especially in comparison with possession of an equal amount of powder cocaine, that the United States Sentencing Commission recently amended the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to slightly reduce the penalties for crack cocaine offenses.  


It is an offense to possess, distribute or cultivate marijuana.  Depending on the quantity, possession of marijuana can be charged as a misdemeanor of felony in both state and federal court.  Under state law, possession of less than four ounces is a misdemeanor; however, you must have possessed a "usable quantity" to be charged with possession of marijuana.  

Prescription Medications

It is an offense under both state and federal law to possess a prescription drug if you are not the valid prescription holder or to deliver a validly issued prescription drug to another person.  It is also a crime to forge or alter a prescription.  Presciption drug cases are prosecuted as aggressively as controlled substance cases and the penalties can be just as serious.  


Under Texas law, it is a crime to possess or deliver drug paraphernalia.  Depending on the circumstances, what constitutes drug parahernalia is very broad and can include pipes, lighters, plastic baggies and rolling papers if the government can show that there was an intent to use the items to use drugs.  In addition, it is also a crime to possess any items with the intent that they be used to cultivate a controlled substance which could include gardening equipment and fertilizers.

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