Drug Crimes

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.

Posted in Drug Crimes, DWI

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Defining Drug Trafficking

By Peek & Toland on January 5, 2019

Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.112 defines drug trafficking as knowingly manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance. The level of the offense charged and the penalties for a conviction depend upon the classification of the controlled substance and the weight of the controlled substance at the time that the offense was committed. Certain enhancements to drug trafficking crimes also can make the penalties for a conviction more severe, such as a history of previous criminal convictions, whether serious bodily injury occurred due to the offense, whether weapons were involved, and whether any minors were involved.

The Texas Controlled Substances Act classifies controlled substances according to penalty group based on each drug’s risk of abuse and any accepted medical use. Penalty Group 1 drugs are considered to be the most dangerous drugs with the highest risk of misuse and no accepted medical usage. As a result, possession or trafficking in these drugs carry far greater penalties than those that are classified in Penalty Groups 3 and 4.

 

Defining Drug Trafficking

For example, trafficking in a Penalty Group 1 controlled substance, such as cocaine, meth, and heroin, is a state jail felony if the amount of the controlled substances found is one gram or less. The charges and penalties increase as the weight of the drug, including any dilutants or adulterants, increases. Trafficking in more than 400 grams of a Penalty Group 1 controlled substance is a felony offense that can result in life in prison or a sentence ranging from 15 to 99 years, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.

In contrast, Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.114 provides that individuals who commit drug trafficking of a controlled substance in Penalty Groups 3 or 4 face state jail felony charges if they are found with less than 28 grams of the drug. Accordingly, as the weight of the drug increases, so do the charges and the potential penalties.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges, as well as educate you about your rights and responsibilities before the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. 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.

Posted in Drug Crimes

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Probation Violations in Texas

By Peek & Toland on December 4, 2018

While being sentenced to community supervision, or probation, as a result of a criminal offense is certainly preferable to jail, the court still has a significant amount of control over your life. Depending on the terms and conditions of your probation, you typically must report to a probation officer on a regular basis, pay fees, complete a certain number of hours of community service, undergo drug or alcohol testing, and seek permission from your probation officer before leaving the state.

If your probation officer believes that you have violated any of the terms of your probation, then he or she can file a motion to revoke your probation. If you are on deferred adjudication probation, then he or she can file a motion to adjudicate. Regardless of what is called, the results are the same; a motion to revoke or a motion to adjudicate both will result in a warrant for your arrest. After your arrest on a probation revocation, you must appear before a judge within 48 hours. However, only the judge who issued the arrest warrant can set bail for you in a probation revocation.

Probation Violations in Texas

You also have the right to be represented by counsel at a court hearing to determine whether you violated a condition of your probation. This hearing is very important, because it will be your only chance to explain why you don’t believe that you have violated your probation. As a result, contacting an attorney as soon as you believe that you may become subject to a probation violation is crucial.

Some common probation violations may include:

·         Being charged with a new criminal offense while on probation

·         Failing a drug or alcohol test

·         Not reporting to your probation officer as scheduled

·         Failing to complete community service hours as ordered

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, including probation violations, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and provide you with the strongest defense possible. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Posted in Drug Crimes, Uncategorized

Is CBD Oil Legal in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on December 3, 2018

In the state of Texas, CBD oil that contains any trace of THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, is illegal, except for a narrow group of individuals who fall within the Compassionate Use Act. These individuals must have intractable epilepsy, have tried two FDA-approved drugs that have been ineffective, and must have two physicians prescribe the usage of low-THC CBD oil, which is considered to be any CBD oil that contains no more than 0.5% THC. One of the major difficulties with this exception, however, is that it is illegal under federal law for physicians to prescribe marijuana or any CBD oil that contains any trace of THC. This can make it very difficult to get the required two prescriptions in order to get CBD oil from one of the three dispensaries in Texas that are authorized by the state to distribute CBD oil.

The Texas state government proposed regulations earlier this year that would have banned any substance that contained any CBD oil. Although momentum for the original proposal has stalled, it originally called for the confiscation of any products from retailers that mentioned CBD or THC as an ingredient, no matter how small the amount.

 

Is CBD Oil Legal in Texas?

Part of the difficulty lies in the inability of normal drug tests to distinguish between CBD oil derived from industrial hemp or from the marijuana plant itself. Since there is no way to tell the origin of CBD oil, the federal government has declined to declassify it from being a Schedule 1 drug. This is the same schedule in which heroin is classified. Some states have legalized the sale and usage of CBD oil, but even so, those state laws still directly conflict with federal law. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is still maintaining that CBD is illegal and that individuals who use it may be subject to arrest and prosecution. However, the DEA also has said that it would not be a wise usage of its resources to prosecute individuals who use CBD oil for health reasons.

If you are facing criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that you raise all of the relevant defenses. 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.

Posted in Drug Crimes

What Are Drug Courts?

By Peek & Toland on November 12, 2018

Drug courts are specialized courts whose goal is to do more than punish defendants for criminal offenses. Not all Texas counties have drug courts, and they are more prevalent in bigger cities and urban areas. However, drug courts are becoming more commonplace in Texas and in courts throughout the nation as the criminal justice system seeks to better address the addictions that underlie so many drug crimes.

Eligibility requirements for defendants to participate in drug courts vary, but they often are available for first-time or low-level drug offenders who want to seek drug treatment. Different courts have various conditions for participation, which may include reporting to the judge once per week to verify sobriety, taking drug tests, undergoing drug treatment, getting counseling, and attending substance abuse classes.

What Are Drug Courts?

Some types of drug courts are actually specialty courts, in that they deal with one sector of the population who is suffering from a drug addiction. For instance, there are juvenile drug courts, adult felony drug courts, and adult misdemeanor drug courts. There also are family drug courts, for cases in which, for example, both parents may be fighting addiction and Child Protective Services has become involved with their children.

Proceedings in drug courts often take 12 to 18 months to complete. Latter stages of the drug court programs may include assisting participants with finding employment, housing, child care, and more. The goal of the program is to make participants drug-free, self-sufficient, and productive citizens. Perhaps most importantly, individuals who successfully complete the program often are able to have their criminal charges dismissed.

While drug courts can be extremely helpful in combatting substance abuse, they also are not right for everyone. For example, some drug courts require individuals to admit guilt to a crime in order to participate. In some cases, if the individuals have no legal immigration status, they could end up deported as a result of that admission.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced drug defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and provide you with the strongest defense possible. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Posted in Drug Crimes

What Are Drug-Free Zones?

By Peek & Toland on October 29, 2018

Penalties for drug convictions are enhanced when the underlying drug activity occurs within certain areas that lawmakers have designated as drug-free zones. Texas, like some other states, has designated not only areas within 1,000 feet of elementary, middle, and high schools as drug-free zones, but also areas within 1,000 feet of universities, playgrounds, child care agencies, public parks, recreational centers, and public swimming pools. These enhancements apply no matter the time of day or night, or regardless of whether children are present when the activity took place, with one major exception. If you did not profit from the drug activity that allegedly took place within a drug-free zone, and there were no children physically present when the activity took place, you may not face the enhanced penalties that usually would apply.

 

What Are Drug-Free Zones?

Being charged with a drug crime that occurred within a drug-free zone elevates your charge to the next-highest level. The difference in charges can mean several more years in prison and thousands of dollars more in fines. In some cases, the enhanced sentence can be twice as long as it would have been if the drug activity had not occurred within 1,000 feet of the local library.

There are other implications of being charged with a drug crime within a drug-free zone, as well. For instance, Tex. Gov. Code § 508.145 limits parole eligibility for offenses that occurred in a drug-free zone. Normally, incarcerated individuals become eligible for parole once the time that they have served, plus any good time credit that they have received, equals one-quarter of their sentences. However, a conviction for a drug offense in a drug-free zone limits parole eligibility until individuals have served one-half of their sentences, without consideration of any good time credit that they may have earned.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal 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.

Posted in Drug Crimes

Will a Pot Breathalyzer Really Work?

By Peek & Toland on October 18, 2018

As more and more states continue to enact laws authorizing recreational and medicinal use of marijuana, law enforcement officials continue to struggle with drivers who are under the influence of marijuana and who risk endangering others. Over 30 states have passed some form of medical marijuana laws and nine states have passed laws authorizing some level of recreational marijuana usage. Since there are no roadside tests available to measure marijuana impairment, police typically must rely on field sobriety tests and simple observations that often may miss the mark.

Hound Labs, a California company, recently has created a “pot breathalyzer.” The handheld device, which is about the size of a large mobile phone, uses a disposable cartridge containing a small plastic tube into which drivers blow for 30 seconds. The machine detects any level of THC, which is the psychoactive component in pot that gets you high. The design of the machine enables it to determine whether individuals have smoked any amount of marijuana in the last two hours.

photo depicting clinical tests trzezewosci state driver by a policeman

This device then is plugged into a base station that is about the size of a laptop, which protects from extremely cold or hot temperatures. This is necessary to maintain consistent results. As a bonus, the device also acts as an alcohol breathalyzer. The device produces results within four minutes.

The device cannot tell, however, the amount of THC that the individual has ingested; it simply measures whether there is any presence of THC in an individual’s breath, based on molecules in parts per trillion. Plus, no one has come to a consensus as to what level of THC is necessary for an individual to be impaired, and studies have been relatively inconclusive.

For example, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study showed that marijuana users are more likely to be involved in accidents. However, marijuana users also are more likely to be young men, and young men are more likely to be involved in accidents.

If you find yourself charged with marijuana possession or any other 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 adults 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.

Posted in Drug Crimes

When Drug Charges Result in Civil Forfeiture Actions

By Peek & Toland on October 11, 2018

Civil forfeiture is a procedure used by law enforcement officials and prosecutors at both the state and federal levels to take and keep individuals’ private property that has a link to criminal activity in some way. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 59.03 et seq. authorizes seizure and forfeiture actions. Civil forfeiture often is used in cases involving drug charges, where the property seized might be large sums of cash (proceeds of the sales of drugs), guns (used in drug-related crimes), and vehicles (used to transport drugs).

The most crucial part of civil forfeiture proceedings is to file an answer to any notice of civil forfeiture action prior to the Monday after 20 days have passed since the forfeiture. If you fail to make a claim to the property within this deadline, then the government automatically gets to keep the property.

When Drug Charges Result in Civil Forfeiture Actions

Typically, the government attempts to subject property to forfeiture either because it constitutes proceeds from a crime or is something used in the facilitation of a crime. Under Texas law, the government must prove the connection between the property and the crime by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a higher standard than the probable cause that law enforcement officials likely used to get a warrant or to justify seizing the property.

You don’t have to be convicted of a drug offense or another type of criminal offense in order to have your property seized and forfeited. In fact, you don’t have to be arrested or charged with the crime. This is also the case if the charges against you are dismissed or you win the criminal case at trial. Regardless of the disposition of the underlying crime, civil forfeiture still can occur with respect to any property that prosecutors allege is related to criminal activity.

An experienced Texas drug defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against your criminal charges, as well as help you handle civil forfeiture actions that may arise from drug charges. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the beginning of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case may be too far gone to fix. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in Drug Crimes

Marijuana Charges and Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on September 26, 2018

Individuals who are intentionally or knowingly in possession of a usable amount of marijuana violate Texas Health and Safety Code Sec. 481.121. The level of charges that individuals face for possession of marijuana depend entirely on the weight of the drug found in their possession. The charges and penalties for possession of marijuana are, on the whole, more lenient than those for possession of other controlled substances under Texas law. Nonetheless, these charges vary in severity from a Class B misdemeanor for two ounces or less of marijuana to a felony for more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana. Whereas a Class B misdemeanor under Texas Penal Code Sec. 12.22 can result in a jail sentence of no more than 180 days and a fine of no more than $2,000, or both, a felony for more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana can result in a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years, or life in prison, and/or a fine of up to 10,000, pursuant to  Sec. 12.32.

Marijuana Charges and Texas Law

Charges for delivering marijuana under Texas Health and Safety Code Sec. 481.120 are only slightly different than those for possession of marijuana. Again, the severity of the charges and the resulting penalties depends upon the weight of the marijuana delivered. The only significant difference occurs at the lowest amounts of marijuana involved; for delivering one-fourth ounce or less of marijuana without receiving remuneration, it is a Class B misdemeanor, but if the individuals receive remuneration, it is a Class A misdemeanor. Furthermore, if individuals deliver between one-fourth ounce and five pounds of marijuana, they can be charged with a state jail felony under Texas law. If the delivery involves larger amounts of marijuana, the charges and penalties are nearly identical to those for possession of marijuana.

An experienced Texas drug defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against your criminal charges, whether they involve marijuana charges or another type of criminal offense. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the beginning of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case may be too far gone to fix. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in Drug Crimes

Will Drug Charges Endanger My Immigration Status?

By Peek & Toland on September 22, 2018

The circumstances and nature of drug charges determines whether there is an impact on immigration status. First, it is important to note that you don’t have to be convicted of a drug crime in order to put your immigration status in danger. An arrest or criminal charges for drug possession can be enough to trigger removal proceedings for individuals who are non-citizens, but who are in the U.S. legally. Even if the individual is never convicted of the alleged drug crime, he or she still could be subject to removal, depending on the situation. For example, if an individual admitted to committing a drug crime as per the requirements of a deferred adjudication, he or she could be subject to removal, even though the individuals never was convicted of a crime at all. The fact is that immigration officials can consider even expunged drug offenses in determining whether an immigrant is removable from the U.S.

In general, a minor drug conviction, such as possession of a small amount of marijuana, is often insufficient to merit removal. In these cases, an immigrant has the legal right to seek cancellation of removal, or relief from deportation. However, if an individual is convicted of a felony under the Texas Controlled Substances Act, he or she is guilty of an “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which places that individual at risk of deportation and makes him or her ineligible for cancellation of removal.

Will Drug Charges Endanger My Immigration Status?

Nonetheless, even minor drug charges can derail your plans to become a U.S. citizen or obtain a green card. A simple drug arrest may be enough for immigration officials to deny you access to citizenship or lawful permanent resident status.

Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to helping both individuals and businesses resolve their immigration-related issues. Immigration law is a complex, ever-changing area of the law that necessitates legal advice from experienced immigration lawyers who keep up-to-date with all relevant changes in law and policy. We will work with you to achieve the most positive outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled immigration attorneys today.

Posted in Drug Crimes

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