Drug offenses and criminal convictions are a big deal to the State of Texas. Houston, a major hub for drug traffickers, is subject to extensive law enforcement activities to counter this illegal activity.
Experienced Houston Drug Charge Lawyers
A large part of our Houston criminal-defense practice involves the defense of people charged with narcotics offenses;
- and importation
of controlled substances (including cocaine, heroin, and meth) and marijuana.
If you or a loved one are accused of a drug crime anywhere in Texas, call Attorney Mark Bennett at 713-224-1747 to discuss a defense.
Drug Crimes & Texas Law
Common controlled substances include cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, PCP, LSD, and MDMA (“ecstasy”), as well as many prescription drugs.
Depending on the quantity and drug involved, the penalty range for possession of a controlled substance can be as much as 15years to life in prison (for possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine with the intent to deliver it) or as little as 0-180 days in jail (for simple possession of less than two ounces of marijuana).
Whatever the punishment range, drug cases are serious matters, and we treat them all seriously. “Treating them seriously” means fighting them every step of the way, seeking every possible way to minimize the client’s exposure.
Houston Bail Bonds for Drug Crimes
First, if a client’s bail is set too high (bail on large drug cases is often set at twice the alleged “street value” of the drugs), we seek a reduction of the bail. It’s easier for a person to help us defend him if he is out of jail.
Beating Houston Drug Charges
We win many drug cases before trial on search and seizure issues, because the police often violate the law in obtaining evidence against our clients, and illegally obtained evidence cannot be used against our clients in court.
For example, if we successfully argue in a motion to suppress that the police illegally searched our client’s vehicle and found drugs, the drugs aren’t admissible and there is no evidence against our client, and he walks.
It’s Best to Know the Informant
Another area that is ripe for pretrial litigation is the identity of the state’s confidential informants. Confidential informants (“snitches“) almost invariably have both the motive and the opportunity to fabricate evidence against the people they snitch on. When we can force the government to “up the snitch” (reveal the identity of the confidential informant), we are in a better position to prepare a trial defense.
Is A Plea Bargain Best?
Sometimes before trial the government will make a plea-bargain offer to avoid further litigation. When an offer is made, we give our best cost-benefit analysis, and leave the decision of whether to accept the offer wholly to the client.
Trial “Always” Means Jury Trial
If the state’s case survives pretrial motions and the state has not made a plea bargain offer that the defendant can accept, we go to trial.
As a general rule, “trial” means a jury trial. It is very rare that we will advise a client to put his entire future in the hands of only one person (the judge) instead of twelve. At trial, we concede nothing and make the government prove everything. The law requires the government, if it wants to incarcerate a person, to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and there is no telling what will create a reasonable doubt in the mind of a juror.
Understanding Texas Juries
Texas law, unlike the law of most states, allows the jury to decide whether the police violated the law, when that determination depends on contested facts (for example, where the police say they stopped the client because he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt, but there is evidence that he was wearing his seatbelt, the jury can be instructed that if it has a reasonable doubt about whether he was wearing his seatbelt it should disregard all evidence obtained by the police as a result of the stop).
Texas law allows a defendant to choose before trial that either the judge or the jury assess punishment in the event of a conviction. This is another way that Texas law differs from that of most others. Again, as a general rule, we advise that the jury be trusted to assess punishment. If the jury sets punishment at less than ten years in prison and if the client has never been convicted of a felony or on felony probation, the jury can probate the sentence.
Criminal Penalties for Drug Crimes
Penalties for drug cases in Texas range from a maximum $500 fine (for a class “C” paraphernalia case) to life in prison (the maximum for a case involving the possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine). Our fees in drug cases depend on the seriousness of the case, the amount of work that will be required to fight the case, and the probability that accepting one case will make it impossible for us to accept others.