Fort Worth Drug Penalties
In felony situations under Texas Law, there is going to be a requirement of an indictment. The indictment is usually issued within sixty to ninety days of the person’s arrest and usually, after a lab report has been received. It normally takes about a month to get a lab report confirming the type of drug or controlled substance. Then there is going to be a court appearance. It can take anywhere from a few months to a year for the charge to be resolved. It might depend on whether the case is worked out by an agreement or whether there is going to be a trial which those charged should discuss with their Fort Worth drug offense attorney.
Range of Penalties For Drug Charges in Fort Worth
For marijuana, small amounts of dangerous drugs, it starts out as a misdemeanor. The punishment can be as low as up to six months and a $2,000 fine for a Class B misdemeanor or up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 fine for a Class A misdemeanor. Probation is a possibility. If it is straight probation (that is, the person is found guilty but the sentence is suspended and the person is placed on probation), there is going to be a permanent record of conviction for that person. If it is a deferred adjudication probation, then the person has a chance to complete the probation without having a record of conviction. If it is a controlled substance, such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, it is going to start out no matter what amount is possessed as a felony offense.
For example the state jail offense, the lowest level of felony for which the punishment is anywhere from six months up to two years in a state jail and up to a $10,000 fine. As the amounts increase, if you have more than one gram of amphetamine, but less than four grams, then it becomes a third-degree felony for which you can get two years and up to ten in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. As the amounts increase, the punishment levels increase as well. If you possess enough of a controlled substance, then you can be charged with felony offenses with even a fifteen-year minimum sentence. Of course, depending on whether a person has prior convictions, the sentences can become even more severe after that.
As a practical matter, a first-time drug possession offense, even if a person cannot successfully fight it at trial, it is possible to work out a probation deal that may not result in the conviction but may be able to be sealed from the record or may be a straight probation. The District Attorney takes a harder line approach on any case that involves possession with intent, actual delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance. They have a policy that even if a person is eligible for probation, they will not offer probation or negotiate for probation.
They will seek prison time in any type of resolution of the case, whether it is by agreement or through a trial. The likely punishment or possible punishments become much more severe in situations of possession with intent to deliver, actual delivery or manufacture of a controlled substance. The penalties are much more severe if the possession or the possessions are with intent to deliver or the delivery is within a certain distance of a school, even whether the minors are involved or not, the punishment is much more severe.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in Texas
Under Texas Law, there is not what people usually think of, as mandatory minimums like there are under Federal Law. If a person is prosecuted in Federal Court, in Texas, and then it is the Federal Law that applies and there are mandatory minimums involved in the drug cases in that situation, the only mandatory minimum under Texas Law for drug cases, is basically the minimum punishment that can be ascribed to whatever level of offense it is. Of course, there is the possibility of probation in many of those situations. For misdemeanors, in Class B situations, there are no minimum.
It is just zero up to six months in jail. For Class A, zero up to one year in jail. For a state jail felony level offense in Texas, if a person does not get probation and is convicted, then there is a minimum of six months in a state jail felony facility up to two years. In that situation, there is a minimum and you might consider that as mandatory. It is not what people are considering or thinking of when they say mandatory minimum sentences. That is usually what is involved under Federal Law.