fbpx

Drug Crimes

Students Facing Felony Charges in the War Against Vaping in Some School Districts

By Peek & Toland on July 6, 2020

A recent Texas Tribune article addresses the drastic efforts of school districts statewide to combat vaping among students. Some schools are searching students to determine if they have vaping pens when they enter school buildings. Other schools are using vape-detecting sensors, drug-sniffing dogs, and sign-out procedures for restroom breaks to cut down on vaping among students.

Penalties for students also vary widely by school districts. Students vaping nicotine often risk suspension or removal from regular classes. In extreme cases, students are placed in alternative schools based on disciplinary problems. If students are vaping THC oils or waxes, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, however, the penalties are far harsher. Students may be subject to expulsion, but also may be subject to arrest for misdemeanor or even felony charges. Particularly for 17-year-olds, who are adults under Texas law for criminal offenses, a felony arrest for possession of a vaping pen containing an illegal drug can have significant consequences and create a permanent criminal record. For these students, a single criminal offense can substantially alter the outcome of their lives in creating barriers to employment, housing, and more.

Students Facing Felony Charges in the War Against Vaping in Some School Districts

In part, schools have had challenges responding to the vaping crisis among students due to minimal guidance from the state on how to address these issues. New vaping laws cannot go into effect at this point until 2021. The problem is, schools need guidance and instruction, rather than sometime next year.

Nationwide, vaping THC has become the new alternative to smoking pot. In states in which marijuana is legal, marijuana companies report that vaping products now make up 30% of their business.

Actions to crack down on teen vaping stem from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigations last summer into severe lung injuries and deaths caused by vaping in otherwise healthy people. In the state of Texas, health officials documented 200 injuries and one death linked to vaping.

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

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

How Effective Are Hair Follicle Tests in Detecting Drug Use?

By Peek & Toland on June 13, 2020

Both law enforcement agencies and probation officers may utilize drug testing for various reasons. Police officers may obtain warrants for tests to support charges for DWI or similar offenses. When people are placed on community supervision, especially for crimes involving illegal substances, they often are subject to random drug testing. Drug courts or pretrial diversion programs also may require random drug testing as a condition of participation. As a result, individuals may have to undergo hair follicle testing when they become involved in the criminal justice system.

Hair follicle testing may be one of the most effective means of detecting drug use in individuals. While probation officers and others traditionally used urine testing to identify the use of drugs in people on community supervision, hair follicle testing likely is more accurate at targeting drug use. Urine tests will not reveal signs of drug use if it has been two or three days or more since the person last used drugs. In contrast, a hair follicle test can show drug use over a much more extended period. Each ½ inch of hair can reveal drug use within 30 days. The standard hairs used in hair follicle tests are one and one-half (1 1/2) inches long, which can show if the person used drugs at any time within the last 90 days.

How Effective Are Hair Follicle Tests in Detecting Drug Use?

Labs that perform hair follicle testing generally use hairs taken from the scalp, but they still can perform the tests on body hairs, as well. Bleach, hair coloring, shampoos, and external contaminants such as smoke have no impact on the results of the hair follicle testing.

Hair follicle testing can detect all types of illicit drugs, including marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, opiates such as heroin, and PCP. False positives are possible in some instances, usually from consuming certain foods containing specific compounds. As a result, a second screening test occurs to rule out false-positive test results.

When you are facing any criminal charges in the State of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Austin City Council Orders Police Chief to Eliminate Possession of Marijuana Citation and Arrests, but Police Chief Disagrees

By Peek & Toland on June 7, 2020

According to the Austin Chronicle, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a resolution in late January 2020 regarding arrests and citations for low-level marijuana offenses. The City Council ordered the City Manager to work with the Police Chief Brian Manley to eliminate arrests and citations involving a small amount of marijuana for personal use to the greatest degree possible under state law.

The City Council, of course, has no authority to change state laws in marijuana possession and use. The police chief also released a statement claiming that neither his instructions to police officers nor their enforcement protocols have changed in light of the Council’s resolution. However, Manley did acknowledge that low-level marijuana offenses are low-priority cases for the department, which has led to its “cite and release” policy. He clarified that possession of marijuana remains a criminal offense under state law, and the Austin Police Department still would enforce existing laws on this issue.

Austin City Council Orders Police Chief to Eliminate Possession of Marijuana Citation and Arrests, but Police Chief Disagrees

Despite the police chief’s assurances, however, the reality is that even if officers arrest someone for marijuana possession, they will not face criminal penalties. At most, they will face a citation, which is akin to a traffic ticket. With the statewide legalization of hemp last year, prosecutors statewide realized that they could not prosecute these cases, as they have no ready access to technology that allows the crime lab to distinguish between hemp and marijuana.

Additionally, the Austin City Council also forbade the Austin Police Department from using any city funds or personnel to acquire the technology needed to test for THC and be able to prosecute these low-level crimes.  Manley admitted that they had been working with the lab to acquire this technology, but that their efforts would cease with the passage of the City Council’s resolution. 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 and explore your options. We can then help you make the decisions that are mostly like to be beneficial to you based on your situation. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Drug Use, Social Media, and Criminal Prosecution

By Peek & Toland on May 17, 2020

As more and more people across the United States use various social media platforms to document their daily lives, it is not surprising that people put photos of themselves online engaging in illegal behaviors, such as drinking or doing drugs. Teenagers and young adults, in particular, seem to be especially vulnerable to this need to broadcast every aspect of their lives online, which can land them in a great deal of trouble.

Individuals who are already facing drug-related criminal charges generally should refrain from posting pictures of themselves using or displaying illegal drugs. If individuals are on probation or pre-trial release, they could face additional charges or probation violations if law enforcement authorities see their posts. As most law enforcement agencies now regularly monitor social media accounts to obtain evidence against individuals, they should be increasingly careful about what they choose to share online.

Drug Use, Social Media, and Criminal Prosecution

Furthermore, even if individuals are not facing criminal charges, displaying large quantities of illegal drugs or highlighting drug use can lead to constant surveillance by law enforcement. If these individuals are involved in drug possession or distribution, their social media presence can give law enforcement officials a strong indicator that they are engaged in criminal activity.

Likewise, continually displaying large amounts of cash, flashy cars and jewelry, and expensive trips also can be red flags to police that individuals are engaged in illegal dealings. Since an unemployed person usually does not have such a large cash flow, social media posts can be instrumental in alerting police to illicit activities.

Despite what many people think, prosecutors can and do use social media as evidence in criminal cases. Although the rules of evidence concerning social media posts still are evolving, linking people to their social media profile is often not too challenging. These social media posts have the potential to constitute evidence used to convict you on criminal charges.

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.

Posted in Drug Crimes

Legalization of Hemp and Decriminalization of Marijuana Leads to Relief for Overburdened System

By Peek & Toland on May 15, 2020

In the more than six months since the State of Texas legalized hemp, marijuana prosecutions have decreased by more than half their previous levels. Prosecutors are not filing lower-level marijuana charges, and they’re spending more at private labs to rule out the possibility that seized substances are hemp rather than marijuana. Although the Texas Department of Public Safety and government crime labs are expected to roll out a new testing method that will allow them to distinguish between hemp and marijuana, the test only will work for plant material. Authorities are unsure if or when they will be able to implement testing that determines whether vape pen liquid or edibles contain hemp or marijuana.

The more significant problem may be that even if government crime labs can perform the testing, they cannot complete all the testing that is now necessary for low-level marijuana prosecutions across the State. Before the State legalized hemp, these tests were unnecessary. Although legislators had ample warning that passing the hemp legalization bill could bring much of the State’s marijuana prosecutions to a halt without boosting funding for government crime labs, lawmakers disregarded the warnings and approved the bill without any provisions for additional funding.

Legalization of Hemp and Decriminalization of Marijuana
Leads to Relief for Overburdened System

As a result of the legislation, many district attorney offices are refusing to prosecute marijuana offenses unless law enforcement officials obtain expensive private lab tests showing that the substances found are pot rather than hemp. Furthermore, if the matter goes to trial, law enforcement agencies may need to pay lab employees to testify in court, which makes it even more expensive. This mandate has come at a considerable cost to city and county law enforcement agencies. When compared to the interest in prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana offenses, law enforcement authorities often cannot justify the enormous expenses involved.

If you or a family member is facing any 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.

Posted in Drug Crimes

When Does a Drug Offense Become a Federal Charge?

By Peek & Toland on October 26, 2019

State and federal laws largely overlap when it comes to drug crimes. Both state and federal law prohibit the possession, manufacture, and distribution of illegal drugs. As a result, a drug crime typically can be prosecuted under federal or state law. On the whole, however, penalties for a federal drug conviction generally are more severe than those for a state drug conviction.

However, there are some circumstances in which you may end up facing federal drug charges rather than state drug charges. For instance, if federal authorities arrest you instead of state or local authorities, you are more likely to face federal drug charges. If you are arrested on federal property, you also may face federal drug charges. Likewise, if you are caught with a large amount of drugs, federal authorities may seek to prosecute you at the federal level as opposed to the state level.

When Does a Drug Offense Become a Federal Charge?

Another situation in which you may face federal instead of state drug charges is if you crossed state lines in committing the crime. For example, if you allegedly trafficked drugs from Texas into another state, or brought drugs from another state into Texas, the crime arguably affects interstate commerce. Therefore, the federal government has jurisdiction to prosecute the crime. Likewise, if you are accused of participating in a large-scale multi-state drug operation, you likely will face federal rather than state drug charges.

Furthermore, if you allegedly are involved in a drug scheme that goes beyond mere possession, such as trafficking or manufacture of illegal drugs, you may face federal drug charges instead of state drug charges. Similarly, if you are charged with others in a conspiracy to distribute or manufacture drugs, you also routinely may be charged at the federal rather than the state level.

At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you through your criminal proceedings. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout your case. Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers know the best strategies for defending you and working toward your desired objective. Allow us to handle your criminal case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Tagged with: ,

Can I Be Arrested for Using Controlled Substances if I Have a Prescription for It?

By Peek & Toland on October 18, 2019

Like other states, Texas has strict laws that govern the possession of controlled substances. Some controlled substances, however, are available for legal use. Consumers authorized to possess these controlled substances generally must have a valid prescription for the drugs issued by a doctor or other medical provider. Commonly prescribed controlled substances include Xanax, Valium, Ritalin, Clonazepam, and hydrocodone.

Can I Be Arrested for Using Controlled Substances if I Have a Prescription for It?

Depending on the schedule of the drug, however, a single pill could result in felony charges for possession of a controlled substance. If charged with possession of these substances, however, individuals have a defense if they possess a valid prescription for the drug that they had before their arrest on possession charges. Nonetheless, there are some exceptions in which this defense may not be valid.

For instance, if you possess an extremely large amount of a controlled substance, you may still face possession charges. If your prescription does not match the amount of the controlled substance that you have in your possession, you still could face possession charges.

Furthermore, you can run afoul of DWI laws if taking a prescription drug impairs your ability to drive. As a result, you can face DWI charges even if you are taking a legally prescribed medication. To avoid these charges, you should refrain from driving while taking the medication if it makes you overly sleepy or otherwise impaired. Some prescription medications are known for causing side effects like drowsiness. These medications include Xanax, hydrocodone, and Ambien, among others. While everyone’s body reacts differently to taking medications, you should be cautious when driving after taking these drugs.

If you are prescribed a new drug, you also should avoid driving until you see how the medication will affect you. 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. Our goal is 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.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Tagged with:

Mandatory Minimum Federal Prison Sentences for Drug Trafficking Offenses

By Peek & Toland on October 16, 2019

Federal law has historically provided for harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug trafficking offenses. Judges had no discretion to deviate from these mandatory minimum sentences. The First Step Act of 2018, however, which President Trump signed into law in December 2018, modifies some of these mandatory minimum sentences and other penalties for drug trafficking and related drug offenses.

Individuals with one prior qualifying conviction previously were subject to a 20-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. The First Step Act decreases the mandatory minimum sentence to 15 years. Likewise, for individuals with two prior qualifying convictions, the mandatory minimum prison sentence decreases from a life sentence to 25 years in federal prison.

Mandatory Minimum Federal Prison Sentences for Drug Trafficking Offenses

The First Step Act also modifies mandatory minimum prison sentences for some drug traffickers with prior convictions. The Act increases the threshold for prior convictions that trigger higher mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders. Now, for mandatory minimum sentences to apply, the prior convictions must qualify under the Act’s new definitions for “serious drug felony” or “serious violent felony.” Previously, mandatory minimum sentences applied if individuals had a prior conviction for any felony drug offense. This change can lead to lower mandatory minimum prison sentences for some drug traffickers.

Another feature of the First Step Act is that it eliminates the “stacking” provision. This provision allowed federal prosecutors to charge individuals with a second and subsequent use of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking or a violent crime in the same criminal incident. The stacking provision led to a 25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Now, prosecutors only can impose this mandatory minimum sentence if they have a prior conviction for the use of a firearm in a drug trafficking or a violent crime from a previous criminal incident.

If you or a family member is facing accusations of drug trafficking or any other 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.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Tagged with: , , ,

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.

Posted in Drug Crimes

Tagged with:

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.

Posted in Drug Crimes

Tagged with: ,

How Can We Help You?

Our team is standing by to help. Call us at (512) 474-4445 or complete this form to send a message about your legal situation.