Q: What are the laws and penalties regarding marijuana possession?
A: Here’s a Quick Guide:
|2 ounces or less||Class B misdemeanor||Not more than 180 days in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,000|
|More than 2 ounces, but less than 4 ounces||Class A misdemeanor||Not more than 1 year in a county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000|
|More than 4 ounces, but less than 5 pounds||State jail felony||180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000|
|More than 5 pounds, but less than 50 pounds||Third-degree felony||2 to 10 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000|
|More than 50 pounds, but less than 2,000||Second-degree felony||2 to 20 years in a state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000|
|More than 2,000 pounds||Enhanced first-degree felony||5 to 99 years and a fine of not more than $50,000|
Q: How likely is it that I’ll get this arrest off my record?
A: There are more options now than ever to expunge an arrest from your record – but it is certainly not guaranteed. You can always fight the charges if your rights were violated or the State can’t prove beyond all reasonable doubt you were in ‘possession’ of marijuana. If that doesn’t work, there are several alternatives your attorney can discuss to show your arrest was a one-time mistake and that you deserve leniency.
Q: What does possession really mean?
A: The Texas Penal Code Section 1.07(39) defines “possession” as “actual care, custody, control, or management.” In other words, the State has to prove that someone was in actual care, custody, control, or management of the marijuana not just that someone was merely in close proximity to the drugs.
Q: The police violated my rights. Does that mean anything?
A: Maybe. An illegal search would trigger Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 38.23 (otherwise known as the exclusionary rule). Put plainly, evidence obtained where the police violated your rights with an illegal detention or search would be inadmissible and could often result in an acquittal. Miranda violations have a more limited impact, but based on the facts of your case – it could mean the difference between a conviction and acquittal. Remember police target young people and others for drug use and can often be overly-aggressive in detaining and searching.
Q: What exactly is considered marijuana?
A: The legal definition of marijuana is defined in the Texas Health and Safety Code. Marijuana is in its own category and for the purposes of marijuana possession, is defined as any Cannabis sativa plant, whether it is growing or not, the seeds of the plant and any preparation of the plant such as a joint or a package containing dried and shredded buds.
Q: Does having a possession of marijuana conviction on my record affect my driver’s license?
A: Yes, you can be sentenced to a suspended driver’s license for up to six months following a conviction on any violation of the Texas Controlled Substances Act, which includes possession of marijuana.