Drug Crimes

Defending Yourself Against Drug Charges

By Peek & Toland on September 10, 2019

Drug possession and trafficking charges can result in extremely severe penalties in the event of a conviction. Trafficking offenses tend to cause harsher sanctions than those for drug possession. However, possession of some drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, can result in first-degree felony charges, which carries the potential for a life prison sentence.

Fortunately, various defenses to drug charges may apply to your case. By taking advantage of these defenses, you may be able to reduce the charges and penalties that you are facing, or even achieve an outright dismissal of the charges in appropriate cases.

For instance, to be convicted of drug possession, you must have knowing control over the illegal drugs. If you were riding in a vehicle belonging to another person in which police found drugs, you might not have known that the drugs were in the car. Likewise, if a friend hands you a backpack containing drugs, but you didn’t realize that it contained drugs, then you arguably didn’t knowingly possess the drugs.

Defending Yourself Against Drug Charges

Another potential defense to drug charges may be if you have a valid prescription for a controlled substance from a licensed doctor. If you legitimately possess the drug to treat a medical condition, then you may have a valid defense to any drug possession charges.

Furthermore, when police search and seize drugs from you or your vehicle during a traffic stop or similar circumstances, they must do so legally. You have a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police fail to respect your constitutional rights, you can argue that any drugs that they found were the result of an illegal search and seizure. In many cases, this can result in the court rejecting the drugs as inadmissible evidence. When a search is unlawful, then the products of that search are illegally obtained and cannot be used against you in court.Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to assisting individuals in resolving their criminal charges. We know that criminal proceedings can be intimidating and overwhelming for those who are facing potential penalties for criminal charges. We will work with you to achieve the most favorable outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled criminal defense attorneys today.

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Can Officers Make Me Wait for a Drug Dog After They Pull Me Over?

By Peek & Toland on September 5, 2019

The introduction of drug dogs to search vehicles is a relatively recent development in the war on drugs. Nonetheless, using dogs as a tool to detect drugs has become more and more common. However, drivers need to be aware of their rights when it comes to traffic stops and drug-sniffing dogs.

Police officers only may stop a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver has committed a crime. Often, this alleged crime is some traffic violation. However, even a legitimate traffic stop does not automatically give police the right to search your vehicle. You have a Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Can Officers Make Me Wait for a Drug Dog After They Pull Me Over?

For police to legally search your vehicle, you either must give consent to the search, or they must have reasonable suspicion to believe that you have committed a crime. The crime must be some offense other than the traffic violation that the police stopped you for in the first place. You should understand that under no circumstances are you required to consent to police searching your vehicle. Once you give your consent, they legally can search your car. If police then find anything illegal in your vehicle, you could face other criminal charges.

If a police officer pulls you over for speeding and has a reasonable suspicion that you may be carrying drugs, then the officer can delay you long enough to bring in a drug-sniffing dog. This sort of delay and resulting search by a drug-sniffing dog does not violate your Fourth Amendment rights. The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your situation. We intend to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

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CBD Legalization

By Peek & Toland on July 30, 2019

A Texas law has legalized hemp and popular hemp-derived products, like CBD oil. In doing so, the legislation redefined marijuana from certain parts of the cannabis plant to only those parts that contain more than a certain percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that allows users to get high.

According to the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, however, the change in the law has made it almost impossible to detect whether drugs found on a person is marijuana or hemp. Most, if not all Texas crime labs have no equipment or resources that employees can adequately detect the difference between the two substances. While the equipment that is necessary to determine the potency of a substance exists, the labs currently don’t have access to it. The requisite equipment costs an estimated $300,000 to $500,000, and over 20 labs would need the equipment. The quick tests that labs used to detect the presence of any cannabinoids in marijuana no longer are useable.

CBD Legalization

As a result, district attorneys statewide have begun dismissing hundreds of marijuana charges and declining to prosecute misdemeanor possession of marijuana cases in the absence of evidence proving that the substance contains more than 0.3% THC. This THC percentage is what differentiates legal hemp from illegal marijuana. Some counties also are dismissing felony-level possession marijuana charges.

In contrast, however, the Tarrant County District Attorney reported recently that she had found at least two labs that can provide the necessary technology. The sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Charles Perry, also argues that even if the hemp law hadn’t redefined marijuana at the state level, the 2018 Farm Bill would have affected the definition across all states, since it is a federal law.   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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Marijuana Possession and Work in the Cannabis Industry May Lead to Denial of Naturalization

By Peek & Toland on July 12, 2019

One of the requirements for naturalization as a U.S. citizen is to establish good moral character (GMC). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published a policy memorandum stated that any violation of federal controlled substance laws could be a conditional bar to establishing GMC, including offenses related to marijuana. Although USCIS acknowledges that simple possession of marijuana may not be illegal under some states’ laws, it is still illegal under federal law. Despite the decriminalization of marijuana to specific degrees in many states, all conduct that involves the possession, manufacture, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana remains illegal under federal law and thus can impact the establishment of GMC.

Marijuana Possession and Work in the Cannabis Industry
May Lead to Denial of Naturalization

Under federal law, marijuana remains a “Schedule I” controlled substance. Schedule I drugs are among those controlled substances that have the highest risk of misuse, are most dangerous to the public and have no accepted medical uses. Many states have removed marijuana from this category of controlled substances under state law, but Congress has not followed suit. This has resulted in many state laws that are in direct conflict with federal law on the issue of marijuana. Texas law does classify marijuana differently than other controlled substances but has not taken steps to decriminalize marijuana in any amount, except for a recent expansion of medical marijuana usage for various illnesses and medical conditions.

As a result of this conflict between state and federal law in some states, marijuana possession that would not result in a criminal conviction in some states remains illegal under federal law. A criminal drug conviction not only can put individuals at risk of deportation, depending on their immigration status but also can endanger their ability to obtain naturalization. Therefore, an activity not illegal under state law, but illegal under federal law, can threaten one’s immigration status and lead to a denial of naturalization. When you have any criminal conviction on your record, even for minor marijuana possession, you may not only be at risk of denial of naturalization, but also of deportation. In these circumstances, you need an experienced immigration attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. Taking steps to get you the relief that you are seeking at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until it’s too late. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

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Marijuana Decriminalization in Texas

By Peek & Toland on July 10, 2019

Ten bills related to marijuana decriminalization were before the Texas legislature during the most recent legislative session, one of which was successful and many others that were not. The only piece of legislation that survived this session was a slight expansion of the eligibility criteria for medical marijuana usage, in the form of cannabis oil. CBD oil from dispensaries under the medical use program has a maximum THC level of 0.5, which is not significantly different from CBD oil sold in retail stores, which is to contain a maximum THC level of 0.3.

Previously, the only condition eligible for legal medical marijuana usage was intractable epilepsy. The new legislation recognizes that other medical conditions may benefit from medical marijuana, including autism, epilepsy and seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), spasticity, terminal cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and some incurable neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Huntington’s Disease.

Marijuana Decriminalization in Texas

Various issues remain problematic with the new legislation. For instance, Texas law requires a prescription for medical marijuana and CBD oil from a dispensary. However, federal law prohibits doctors from prescribing Schedule I controlled substances, which includes marijuana. While Texas law provides a workaround, doctors are still somewhat at risk if they prescribe medical marijuana.

A lack of regulation still exists as to CBD oil. Although many oils are labeled as being free of THC, there is the chance that they still contain trace amounts of THC, as there are no standard regulations that apply to the production and distribution of CBD oil. Furthermore, law enforcement officers in different parts of the state still consider CBD oil differently. Some counties consider CBD oil illegal unless produced by state-sanctioned dispensaries for medical purposes. This stance has led to raids and seizures of CBD oil in retail stores in some Texas counties.

The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your situation. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your criminal proceedings.

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Marijuana Arrests Still Dominate in Some Counties and States

By Peek & Toland on July 2, 2019

According to a recent article relying on FBI data, marijuana possession led to six percent of all arrests nationwide in 2017. This arrest rate, however, is not consistent from one state to the next, or even from one county to the next within the same state. In some counties, the arrest rate for marijuana possession is in the 20 percent range, which tops out at 55 percent in one Georgia county.

Various reasons support these high rates of arrest. First, the federal government provides generous funding for drug task forces. Forfeiture laws also often allow law enforcement agencies to seize and keep money and other assets from those accused of drug crimes. Furthermore, marijuana may be easier for law enforcement authorities to spot, simply because it is bulky, meaning that individuals cannot easily conceal it, and has a strong and distinctive odor, especially in comparison to other controlled substances.

Marijuana Arrests Still Dominate in Some Counties and States

With the legalization of marijuana occurring rapidly in many states, however, the emphasis that some law enforcement agencies place on prosecuting individuals who use marijuana may be unwarranted and a waste of precious resources. Moreover, law enforcement efforts to stop drug activity most commonly result in the prosecution of drug users and small distributors who deal solely to support their habit, as opposed to the major distributors or those who run high-level drug dealing enterprises.

Nationwide, more conservative states, including Texas, who have not legalized any marijuana usage, have had higher arrest rates for marijuana possession than the national average. Two counties in Texas had the third and fourth highest arrest rates for marijuana possession in the U.S. In contrast, states that have legalized marijuana to some degree have much lower than average arrest rates for marijuana possession. When facing any criminal law issue, you are likely to need the legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation regularly for individuals who are dealing with criminal law problems. It is our priority 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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CBD: Legal in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on June 24, 2019

State lawmakers in the two largest states, California and Texas, are pushing bipartisan legislation that would legalize CBD products, even though the federal government continues to consider it illegal. Despite efforts in some localities in both states to pull CBD products from store shelves, including CBD oil-infused gummies, foods, drinks, and dietary supplements, there is an enormous push to legalize what many see as a boon to their overall health.

At the federal level, Congress members also are pushing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reconsider its stance on the popular cannabis compound. Recently, the FDA announced that it will conduct a public hearing to solicit more information on the subject. The FDA maintains oversight over CBD because it is the active ingredient in a prescription drug that treats two rare seizure disorders and contends that it has insufficient information to determine whether CBD is safe or effective to add to food and drink products.

Nonetheless, the FDA has limited enforcement to companies that make false health claims about their products. Federal authorities also have largely failed to take any action against companies producing CBD products in states in which marijuana has been legalized on a recreational or medical level. Instead, state or local authorities have headed up most enforcement efforts.

Legislation in both Texas and California is pending that lawmakers hope will end consumer confusion and allow individuals to purchase products containing CBD oil. The pending legislation in Texas, HB 1325, as amended, most recently went to the governor’s office for his signature. In addition to legalizing CBD oil containing less than three percent THC, the bill also would permit farmers to grow hemp. The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your situation. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your criminal proceedings.

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Texas Department of State Health Services to Remove Hemp as Schedule I Controlled Substances

By Peek & Toland on May 30, 2019

The Texas Department of State Health Services recently announced that it will remove hemp from its list of Schedule I controlled substances. Schedule I contains drugs that are highly dangerous, addictive, and typically have no accepted medical use. Other notable Schedule I drugs include cocaine, LSD, and heroin.

Nonetheless, the move does little to clarify the legal status of products containing hemp that many stores already sell in Texas, including gummies, creams, and oils. As of right now, hemp remains illegal. Hemp, unlike marijuana, contains low levels of THC, which is the psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant that produces a high in user. Nonetheless, state law currently prohibits the possession and sales of both hemp and marijuana as the same substance in most circumstances. Only patients with intractable epilepsy and prescriptions issued by two doctors can purchase cannabis products that contain up to 0.5 percent THC. Any other hemp products must contain no THC to be legal in the state of Texas.

The declassification of hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance only partially brings it into compliance with current federal law. Last year, Congress legalized hemp containing less than 0.3 percent THC. As a result, the Texas legislature would need to amend its current definition of hemp and the accompanying penalties for buying and selling it to comply with federal law. Although legislation is pending in the Texas legislature, it is debatable whether the proposed legislation will pass before the end of the current legislative session.

This continuing confusion under Texas law is leading to different legal repercussions for shops that sell CBD oil in different jurisdictions. While Dallas County has not prioritized enforcing laws regarding hemp on shops selling CBD products or consumers who purchase, the Tarrant County district attorney issued a statement that CBD oil is illegal. This statement led to police raids of shops selling CBD oil in Fort Worth. A complicating factor is that even if law enforcement authorities do file charges regarding the possession or sales of hemp products, they often end up dropping the charges because they must have each individual product tested to prove it is illegal under state law.

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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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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