Drug Crimes

Marijuana Oil and Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on April 17, 2019

Vaping pens and e-cigarettes quickly have become big business in the tobacco industry. Nonetheless, some individuals have found a new use for vaping devices as a mechanism for smoking pot that tends to be far more discreet than smoking joints or using bongs. By using marijuana in oil, wax, or liquid form and placing it in a vial, users simply can drop it into a vaping pen or e-cigarette instead.

The problem is, possessing even a small amount of marijuana in oil, wax, or liquid form could result in felony charges, as opposed to a small amount of loose or dried marijuana, which is typically a misdemeanor offense. Due to the differences in weight and characterization under Texas law, possession of marijuana or THC oil is likely to cause far more severe criminal charges than those for possession of marijuana in its traditional form.

Marijuana Oil and Texas Law

Texas law remains strictly anti-marijuana, especially as compared with the numerous states that have legalized small amounts of marijuana for medical or even recreational use. However, Texas law classifies marijuana differently from THC wax, also known as butane hash oil, hash, or dabs. As far as Texas law is concerned, THC wax is a controlled substance whose possession carries the potential for far more severe penalties than those for possession of marijuana.

Under current Texas law, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense that can result in up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. Possession of one to four grams of THC, hash oil, or a concentrate, however, is a felony offense that can result in a two to ten-year prison sentence and a maximum $10,000 fine. Despite the fact that marijuana and hash oil contain the same active ingredient, or THC, Texas legislators do not consider it to be the same substance. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

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Some Lawmakers Seek to Decriminalize Marijuana

By Peek & Toland on April 10, 2019

A recent article in the Texas Tribune discussed the moves by some lawmakers during the current legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. There is growing support for various bills that would reduce or even eliminate criminal penalties for those found with small amounts of marijuana. Some hardliners, however, continue to push back against these bills, fearing that decriminalization of marijuana will lead to the legalization of other drugs and an increase in crime rates.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, about 379,000 Texans have been arrested for possessing less than two ounces of marijuana during the past five years. This is because the possession of any amount of marijuana in the state of Texas remains a criminal offense. Meanwhile, ten other states and the District of Columbia have legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana for purely personal usage. In 13 other states, possession of small amounts of marijuana now is a civil rather than a criminal infraction.

Some Lawmakers Seek to Decriminalize Marijuana

In some urban areas, such as Dallas County, Texas district attorneys have enacted policies under which they will not prosecute first-time, low-level marijuana offenses. Harris County prosecutors have established a diversion program for first-time offenders caught in possession of less than four ounces of marijuana; if individuals take a four-hour class that costs $130 within 90 days, then they will not face criminal charges at all. To date, officials report that more than 7,000 people have taken advantage of the diversion program.

If you are facing marijuana-related or other drug charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that your rights a protected at all stages of your criminal proceedings. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you any accusations of wrongdoing that you may be facing. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

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Can a Passenger Be Charged if Police Find Drugs in the Vehicle?

By Peek & Toland on April 8, 2019

You can face drug charges under Texas law if you are a passenger in a vehicle in which the police find drugs. The test for a criminal charge depends upon whether you had care, custody, and control of the drugs as a passenger in the vehicle. In other words, there must be a direct link between the drugs found in the vehicle and the persons occupying the vehicle.

For instance, if drugs are located in the glove compartment, and both the driver and a passenger admit that they knew the drugs were there, they both could face drug charges. If, however, both driver and passenger deny knowing about the drugs in the glove compartment, then the passenger may be in a better position with respect to criminal charges; since the vehicle belonged to the driver, then he presumably would have a stronger link to the drugs than the passenger, who might never have ridden in the car before.

Can a Passenger Be Charged if Police Find Drugs in the Vehicle?

Whether you will face drug charges as a passenger in a vehicle also may depend on the location of the drugs in the vehicle. For example, if you were seated in the front passenger seat and the police located drugs under your seat, then you likely would face charges. If, however, you were seated in the back seat of someone else’s car, and the police located drugs in the trunk of the car, it would be far more difficult to charge you with a drug offense.

If you find yourself charged with any type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

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What is the Legal Status of CBD Oil in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on March 25, 2019

States throughout the country have seen a huge increase the sales of CBD oil, a non-psychoactive substance containing marijuana and hemp, including the state of Texas. Nonetheless, given the vagueness of Texas marijuana laws and continually changing marijuana policies at the federal level, many persons disagree about the legality of CBD oil in the state. Some law enforcement officials believe that so long as the product contains no detectable amounts of THC, or a very low amount of THC, CBD oil is illegal. Others, however, believe that all CBD oil is illegal, regardless of its composition.

Currently, the only Texas law in place that legalizes any form of hemp or marijuana is the Compassionate Use Act, which legalizes medical marijuana usage for patients with a rare form of epilepsy. Neither hemp nor marijuana, or derivatives thereof, are legal in any other form. Although the Texas District and County Attorneys Association consider CBD oil to be illegal under their interpretation of current state law, however, the fact that is a non-intoxicating substance renders it an extremely low priority, even it is illegal. There has been almost no prosecution of individuals for possessing, buying, or selling CBD oil and there have been no court cases interpreting Texas marijuana laws with respect to CBD oil.

 

What is the Legal Status of CBD Oil in Texas?

This position is consistent with recent moves in larger counties to essentially eliminate prosecution of persons caught with small amount of marijuana. In Travis County, for example, persons facing first-time charges for possessing small amount of marijuana can simply take a class in order to avoid prosecution. This tactic allows an already-overburdened court system to better prioritize cases for prosecution.

Our goal is to minimize the penalties that you can potentially face for the criminal offenses with which you are charged. We are here to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, evaluate your situation, and devise the best strategy for fighting your criminal charges. No matter what type of criminal charges you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge and reputation that you want and need for your criminal defense. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 474-4445.

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Marijuana DWI in Texas

By Peek & Toland on March 20, 2019

Although many states in recent years have legalized medical marijuana and even recreational marijuana in some cases, Texas has not followed this trend. With the narrow exception of low-THC cannabidiol oil prescribed for intractable epilepsy, marijuana remains illegal under Texas law in any amount and any circumstances. As a result, driving while under the influence of marijuana, or marijuana DWI, is illegal in the state of Texas.

Marijuana can affect judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. All these characteristics arguably are necessary for safe driving. However, studies have produced mixed results as to whether marijuana truly impairs persons to the extent that they cannot safely drive.

Marijuana DWI in Texas

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated. Texas law defines individuals as intoxicated when they do not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties, due to alcohol, controlled substances, dangerous drugs, or a combination of these substances. Therefore, to the extent that marijuana has caused impairment to your mental or physical faculties and you choose to drive, you could be charged with marijuana DWI. 

The potential penalties for marijuana DWI are the same as those for DWI due to alcohol. For a first offense, the charge is a Class B misdemeanor, which can carry a potential term of incarceration of up to 180 days, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Drivers convicted of DWI also will face a mandatory driver’s license, increased motor vehicle insurance rates, and annual surcharges assessed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) of $1,000 per year for three years. A DWI sentence also may include mandatory community service, drug rehabilitation or counseling, and vehicle impoundment.

Furthermore, if you possess marijuana at the time of your arrest, you may also be charged with possession of marijuana. While this does not occur in all jurisdictions in Texas, as some no longer prosecute possession of small amounts of marijuana, it is a possibility in other jurisdictions. Otherwise, the prosecutor can use the presence of marijuana as evidence in support of the marijuana DWI charge.

If you or a family member is facing any type of criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

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Is It Illegal to Grow Marijuana in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on February 25, 2019

There are no specific Texas laws that prohibit the cultivation or growing of marijuana. However, other laws prohibiting marijuana still make growing marijuana illegal in the state. Growing marijuana is a crime of marijuana possession in Texas.

Is It Illegal to Grow Marijuana in Texas?

Charges and penalties for marijuana vary widely according to the amount of marijuana that you are accused of possessing. Tex. Health and Safety Code § 481.121 sets forth the penalties for possession of marijuana based on weight:

• Two ounces or less: Class B misdemeanor
• Two to four ounces: Class A misdemeanor
• Four ounces to five pounds: State jail felony
• Five to 50 pounds: Felony of the third degree
• 50 to 2,000 pounds: Felony of the second degree
• More than 2,000 pounds: Felony carrying a potential sentence of five to 99 years in prison or a life sentence, in addition to a fine of up to $50,000

Due to this wide range of penalties, sentences of incarceration can vary widely. A Class B misdemeanor carries the potential for a jail sentence of no more than 180 days, whereas a second degree felony conviction could result in up to 20 years in prison. It is essentially only very small amounts of marijuana possessed for personal usage that result in misdemeanor charges under Texas law.

If you are facing criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that all of your rights a protected at all stages of your criminal proceedings. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you any accusations of wrongdoing that you may be facing. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

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Smuggling Contraband into Jails and Prisons

By Peek & Toland on February 19, 2019

Some individuals who are going to jail or prison attempt to smuggle contraband into the facility, whether the prohibited items are cigarettes, drugs, cellphones, or weapons. Once incarcerated, individuals still may attempt to access contraband from friends and family members who come to visit them or send them mail. They also may attempt to get prohibited items from guards or jail staff members, usually in exchange for money or some other benefit. More recently, individuals have even used drones to deliver contraband to inmates in prison and jail yards and outdoor recreational areas.

While the inmates themselves can be charged with a crime or lose privileges or status due to being found with contraband, individuals who assist inmates in smuggling contraband into jails and prisons can face criminal charges, as well. According to Tex. Pen. Code § 38.11, it is illegal to provide, or possess with intent to provide, contraband to individuals in correctional facilities. These facilities include all city or county jails, state or privately-run prisons, and community correction facilities, such as halfway houses.

Smuggling Contraband into Jails and Prisons

Prohibited items include alcohol, controlled substances, dangerous drugs, deadly weapons, cell phones, money, and cigarettes or tobacco, unless it is a local jail that expressly permits inmates to have tobacco in certain areas or under certain circumstances. There also are exceptions to this offense for drugs prescribed to inmates by doctors and peace officers carrying weapons into these facilities.

Similarly, pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 38.114, it is a Class C misdemeanor to provide an incarcerated person with contraband, otherwise introduce it into a correctional facility, or possess it while incarcerated. However, the offense becomes a Class B misdemeanor if it is committed by an employee of or volunteer at the correctional facility.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges relating to the smuggling of contraband into jails and prisons. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

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What is Asset Forfeiture?

By Peek & Toland on February 5, 2019

Texas civil forfeiture laws allows law enforcement authorities to seize people’s property in certain situations without a warrant and without them ever being convicted of a crime. More specifically, the law permits law enforcement to seize any contraband or instrumentality that was used in or acquired from the commission of a crime. This can include assets such as money, bank accounts, firearms, vehicles, homes, and most other types of assets.

Under Texas law, all first and second degree felony offenses are subject to asset forfeiture proceedings, as are a number of other crimes specifically listed in the statute. Forfeiture proceedings are particularly common in cases involving drug offenses and white collar crimes.

What is Asset Forfeiture?

Asset forfeiture proceedings are civil, not criminal, in nature. The state must initiate an asset forfeiture action within 30 days of the seizure of property. In many cases, the property owner may have the property returned to them if he or she pays a bond to secure the value of the property. The property owner also must agree to return the property to the state at the time of the forfeiture hearing. If the state prevails at the forfeiture hearing, then the property is forfeited and now belongs to the state.

The question in an asset forfeiture proceeding is not whether a person committed a crime, but whether the property was involved in or derived from a crime. The state need only prove by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a far less stringent standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal proceedings, that a seizure is legally valid. The owner of the property, in turn, has the burden of proving that the asset was not used in or acquired from the commission of a crime.

If you or a family member is facing any type of criminal charges or has had property seized pursuant to a civil asset forfeiture, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

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What is the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program?

By Peek & Toland on January 13, 2019

The Texas Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) is an electronic database that the Texas State Board of Pharmacy uses to collect and monitor prescription drug data for all Schedule II, III, IV, and V controlled substances used by Texas residents, whether they are dispensed from a Texas pharmacy or by a pharmacy in another state. Medical practitioners also can use the PMP to monitor a patient’s prescription history and to request official Texas Schedule II prescription forms. Through this tool, practitioners and pharmacists can help ensure that patients are not overprescribed controlled substances and eliminate duplicate prescriptions.

Most recently, on September 1, 2018, the state issued a new official Schedule II prescription form with enhanced security features. Effective June 1, 2019, all prior versions of the form will become invalid.

What is the Texas Prescription Monitoring Program?

Another change to the PMP will take effect on September 1, 2019. On that date, all pharmacists and prescribers will be required to check a patient’s PMP history before dispensing or prescribing opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or carisoprodol. The purpose of this requirement is to identify and eliminate drug-shopping, illicit drug activity, and drug diversion.

Under the PMP, pharmacies must report the dispensing of controlled substances to the PMP no later than the next business day after the prescription is filled. Pharmacies that violate this requirement may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

Unless obtained pursuant to a valid prescription by a licensed practitioner, the possession of any amount of controlled substances continues to be illegal under Texas law. The Texas Controlled Substances Act classifies different controlled substances into penalty groups according to the danger level of risk of misuse that the controlled substance poses. The level of the offenses charged as a result of possessing or trafficking in these drugs differs according to the penalty group in which the drug is classified, the weight of the drug, along with any adulterants and dilutants.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including drug offenses and similar charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

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What Are the Penalties for Drugged Driving in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on January 6, 2019

Drugged driving falls under the category of driving while intoxicated, as set forth in Texas Penal Code § 49.04. This section makes it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. In addition to the definition that refers to blood alcohol concentration (BAC), Texas Penal Code § 49.01 provides an alternate definition of intoxicated as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.

Determining whether a driver is sufficiently impaired by drugs to constitute driving while intoxicated is far less straightforward than simply measuring a driver’s BAC. There is not a definitive legal level at which an individual is impaired by a certain drug or combination of drugs. This is because unlike alcohol, science does not provide a method for equating a particular drug dosage with impairment. A dosage of a drug that may be incapacitating to one person may not impair another person at all. As a result, determining whether to charge a driver with impairment due to drug consumption can be rather arbitrary.

What Are the Penalties for Drugged Driving in Texas?

Just like with regular DUI involving alcohol intoxication, drugged driving is generally a Class B misdemeanor under Texas law that requires a minimum term of incarceration of 72 hours. Other aggravating factors can increase the potential charge and penalties, such as if the offense occurs with the presence of a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle, or if the offense results in serious bodily injury to others.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

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