People often don’t give drug charges the respect that they deserve. Although drug crimes are generally less severe than violent criminal offenses, they still warrant a measured response in court.
Too many people make the mistake of automatically entering a guilty plea when accused of a drug violation. They believe that a lack of prior offenses will protect them from the worst-case scenario. However, after a guilty plea, someone’s future will largely depend on the decisions of a judge. The judge presiding over a case will determine what sentence is appropriate based on the circumstances. Contrary to what people sometimes assume, drug charges can be very serious for those accused.
How Texas handles drug charges
There are a range of possible charges and penalties that the state can pursue after someone’s arrest for a drug violation. The penalties for a drug offense in Texas range from a $500 fine for a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Someone facing the most severe drug charges possible, such as trafficking or manufacturing charges, could end up sentenced to as much as 99 years in state custody and fines of up to $250,000. Class C misdemeanors are usually only available as part of a plea arrangement with the state.
Even those accused of possession of a small amount of a drug will usually face at least Class B misdemeanor charges or worse. Anyone accused of possession with intent to distribute, manufacturing for trafficking offenses will face felony charges. The overall weight of the drugs that police officers signed and their scheduled classification by the state will determine the nature of the charges and therefore the possible penalties.
Although people might think that a guilty plea would lead to a judge’s lenience, judges will often hand down serious sentences for non-violent drug offenses, particularly if the drug involved is currently a judicial priority. For example, fentanyl has recently become a concern due to its association with fatal overdoses and drug contamination. Judges may sentence those facing fentanyl-related charges particularly harshly because of the public attention on such cases.
Anyone accused of a drug violation in Texas could face massive penalties if they plead guilty or the courts convict them. Understanding how Texas handles drug charges may inspire some people to invest in a proper defense strategy accordingly.