Understanding Drug Crime Charges

The Law Office of Aaron Fonseca May 8, 2023

Judge Gavel, Handcuffs with White Powder Bag on Dark TableAny time you’re facing criminal charges, it’s essential you understand the offenses and the potential penalties so you can start working on your defense strategy. However, this should not be done alone, especially if you’ve been arrested for drug charges.  

For help learning about the difference between various charges such as manufacturing, delivering, or possessing controlled substances, reach out to The Law Office of Aaron Fonseca to schedule a consultation. From my office in Edinburg, Texas, I can represent clients in McAllen, Mission, and the entire Rio Grande Valley.  

Controlled Substances  

Within the criminal justice system, controlled substances (also called controlled dangerous substances (CDS)) are classified at the federal level into “schedules” ranging from I to V, with Schedule I carrying the most severe penalties and Schedule V carrying the lowest. Schedule I drugs are also considered the most dangerous because they have the highest potential for abuse and have no known medical use. Notably, a drug doesn’t have to be illegal to be included, as both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are also “controlled substances.” 

Examples of Schedule I drugs are marijuana, MDMA (also known as ecstasy), heroin, or LSD. Schedule III drugs include ketamine and Tylenol with codeine, while Schedule V drugs include everyday drugs like cough suppressants with only small amounts of codeine. 

State vs Federal Drug Charges  

For the most part, Texas follows the federal drug schedule for state-specific offenses. However, it’s still possible to be charged and convicted of both state and federal drugs charges at the same time. For example, if you were arrested for transporting drugs across state lines or large-scale manufacturing you would likely face federal charges. In some cases, you could be facing state charges for lower-level offenses such as possession or distribution and federal charges for trafficking. 

Common Drug Charges  

The three most common drug charges are possession, manufacturing, and trafficking. 

  • Possession: Almost all possession charges will be addressed at the state level and these can be either as a misdemeanor or a felony. Charges will typically increase the greater the quantity of drug you were carrying and the type.  

  • Manufacturing: Manufacturing and cultivating drugs can be tried at both the state and federal level and can include both growing illegal substances such as marijuana or mushrooms for psilocybin, or producing drugs in a laboratory setting such as LSD or methamphetamines.    

  • Trafficking: Trafficking is typically a serious charge where someone distributes or sells a controlled substance. Like possession charges, penalties become more severe with the amount of drugs in question.    

Possible Penalties 

It’s very difficult to predict the exact penalties you may face with a drug charge. That’s why it’s vital to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can thoroughly evaluate your case.   

For possession charges, Texas separates penalties into four different groups. The most dangerous drugs fall into Penalty Group 1 (mostly in line with Schedule I drugs). Within Group I the potential consequences increase the more drugs you were found with. For example, if you were caught with up to one gram, you may face fines of up to $10,000 and a maximum of two years in jail. On the other end of the spectrum, Penalty Group 4 is reserved for the least dangerous drugs and penalties are much less severe. For instance, possession of up to 28 grams can result in a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 in jail. 

Speak With a Trusted Attorney  

If you’re in Edinburg or anywhere else in Texas and you have recently been arrested on drug charges, contact my firm at The Law Office of Aaron Fonseca. As an experienced attorney, I’m ready to strategize your defense options and help you move forward.