Houston Marijuana Defense Lawyer
Marijuana use is becoming more and more accepted in a majority of states around the country. But while almost a dozen states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and about 20 more have legalized medical marijuana, Texas still maintains some of the more severe laws penalizing even mere possession of the drug. Possession remains illegal, although certain low-THC versions of the drug can be prescribed by physicians for limited medical conditions.
Marijuana is classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Penalty Group 1 drug. As such, it generally carries more severe penalties than possession or sale of many other drugs. Because of the strict laws governing marijuana in Texas, you should not assume that a simple possession charge will not carry serious potential penalties.
Possession of Marijuana
The penalties for possession of marijuana (known in the Texas Controlled Substance Act as “marihuana”) depend largely on the amount in your possession. The amount must be at least a “usable quantity,” and the classifications and potential penalties are generally as follows:
- Possession of up to 2 ounces is a Class B misdemeanor – up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000
- Possession of over 2 ounces but under 4 ounces is a Class A misdemeanor – up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
- Possession of at least 4 ounces but under 5 pounds is a state jail felony. It carries a potential sentence of between 180 days and 2 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of at least 5 pounds but less than 50 pounds is a third degree felony, carrying a possible sentence of between 2 years and 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of at least 50 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds is a felony of the second degree and carries a potential sentence of between 2 years and 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of more than 2,000 pounds is a first degree felony, with a sentence of between 5 years and life, and a fine of up to $50,000.
The important fact to note is that even possession of a relatively small amount of pot can carry significant jail or prison time.
Possession with Intent to Sell and Delivery of Marijuana
The sale, gift, transfer or other delivery of marijuana, as well as possession with intent to sell or deliver, is a felony. The classification (and the associated penalty), as with possession, depends upon the amount of marijuana involved. Those classifications and potential penalties generally range from:
- State jail felony. Under 1 gram – 6 months to 2 years.
- Third degree felony. At least 1 gram but under 4 grams – 2 to 10 years.
- Second degree felony. – At least 4 grams but under 400 grams – 2 to 20 years.
- First degree felony. 400 grams or more – 5 years to life in prison.
These offenses also carry heavy fines, and the penalties may vary depending upon other circumstances.
Defending Marijuana Charges in Houston
There are numerous defenses that may be available in your case. They include:
- Illegal search and seizure. This is probably the most common defense in a drug possession case. It can apply not only to a search of your home, but also to items seized from your vehicle, your office, and other places. If the search was illegal, marijuana discovered and seized as a result of that search will be inadmissible in court. In a marijuana possession case, this usually means that the case will be dismissed.
- Validity of chemical test. In order to be convicted, the prosecutor must be able to identify the controlled substance, in this case marijuana. It is not enough, for example, that the substance looks like marijuana. It needs to be tested and identified chemically. If the test is improperly administered, or if there are other irregularities in the testing process, this could be the basis for a potential defense.
- Usable quantity. The term “usable quantity” is not defined in the statute. Moreover, the case law addressing the issue does not set forth a consistent rule on the question of precisely how much marijuana is a usable quantity. Establishing reasonable doubt that the amount is a usable quantity, could provide a defense to a marijuana possession charge.
Other defenses, including entrapment, may also be available in your case.
Marijuana Defense Lawyer in Houston
A marijuana possession charge can be serious. And possession with intent and delivery carry even greater penalties. If you have been charged with a marijuana offense, speak to a Houston marijuana defense attorney today. Contact the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak for a straightforward evaluation of your case. The initial consultation is free.