Texas doesn’t take cocaine possession or distribution lightly. In fact, courts charge all criminal cases involving cocaine at the felony level.
Cocaine in Texas
Texas law categorizes cocaine as a schedule Π drug but groups it as Penalty 1. A schedule Π drug has a high potential for abuse, which can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence, but has or once had some medical use. However, it is penalty group 1 because it is the most severely punished drug in Texas.
Potential consequences for cocaine possession and distribution
Most penalties for drug charges in Texas depend on the amount found on a person. For instance, if an officer catches someone with 1 to 4 grams of cocaine, chances are, they’ll face a possession charge. However, if that person had 200 grams or more, the court would automatically assume they intended to distribute, hence, harsher convictions.
Accordingly, possession of 1 to 4 grams of cocaine can lead to 6 to 24 months in state jail. Having 4 to 200 grams is a second-degree felony with a prison time of 2 to 20 years. Possessing 200 to 400 grams of this controlled substance is a first-degree felony with sentencing guidelines of not more than 99 years in prison. Anything more than 400 grams will lead to 99 years in prison plus $100,000 in fines.
Conversely, distribution or transfer can be direct or constructive. Direct delivery is the typical hand-to-hand exchange, while a constructive delivery could be like having a drop point where someone would come and pick up the cocaine. The penalties here also depend on the amount of cocaine law enforcement personnel finds on the suspect. For instance, delivering 1 gram can lead to up to 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Whereas distributing 200 grams can lead to up to 99 years of incarceration and a $250,000 fine.
Given the seriousness of these charges, defenses, when applicable, can be the best course of action to minimize or avoid a conviction. For example, when it comes to possession, the law states that the defendant must knowingly or intentionally have cocaine on their person. If they can prove that they did not intend or know that they had cocaine, Texas courts may dismiss the case.