Drug Possession and Trafficking in Texas–What’s the Difference?

Obtaining a drug charge on an individual’s criminal record could result in a variety of life-long implications for the accused. When someone is convicted of a felony, the crime is usually deemed serious enough that it serves as a stain on the defendant’s record forever; this could impact job offers, voting rights, and housing opportunities. In particular, Texas is infamously known for ordering harsh penalties for drug offenses; such punishments span from hefty fines to long prison terms. Many lawmakers contribute this harshness to Texas’s high drug trafficking problem, domestically and internationally. Drug offenses can result in charges of various degrees including misdemeanors, federal cases, or complex felonies. In general, there are two common drug offenses: drug possession and drug distribution. The differences between the two are as follows:

  1. Drug Possession. In Texas, a drug possession charge can range anywhere from a class C misdemeanor for small amounts of marijuana to felony drug possession for controlled substances. Drug possession is the simple charge of having a particular amount of a drug on his/her body at the time of the arrest. For conviction, the prosecution must prove that the accused had care, custody, and control of the illegal or controlled substance.
  2. Drug Distribution. Drug distribution is different from drug possession in that drug distribution involves delivering a drug to another person for consumption. Contrary to popular belief, drug distribution in Texas is not only in reference to traffickers who carry large quantities on their person for sale. Distribution is Texas can also apply when a singular person shares a personal stash of drugs with a friend; payment or monetary gain is not an essential element of a distribution charge.

For both types of drug charges, The Texas Health and Safety Code outlines controlled substance offenses and their respective penalties. Punishment is determined by the penalty group under which the controlled substance is listed and the quantity and/or weight of the controlled substance associated with the offense. Additionally, there are enhancements that could add to the punishment term if one or multiple traits were involved. A defendant could be punished more severely if someone died as a result of drug consumption or a child was involved. Accused individuals have many options regarding defenses and should argue illegal search, invalid search warrant, no active delivery, or impeached informants.

Ultimately, if accused of a crime, a person should immediately retain a defense attorney to explore their legal options and get quality legal advice stemming from knowledge and experience. Any accused individual needs an attorney, such as a drug possession lawyer from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, that can build a strong defense and protect their personal freedom.