Drug Crimes

How Does the Possession of Marijuana Affect My Immigration Status?

By Peek & Toland on November 18, 2020

Board Certified Immigration and Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Peek discusses how the possession of marijuana can affect your immigration status. 

If you are not a U.S. citizen and have a drug conviction, such as possession of marijuana, you can face deportation or be inadmissible to the United States.

We continuously see this issue of non-U.S. citizens, such as permanent residents or those here on student or work visas, that enjoy using marijuana. However, they don’t realize the legal consequences if you are an immigrant.

There are now more states legalizing the use or decriminalizing the use of marijuana. It’s beginning to increase as more people are using it. But there are still States, like here in Texas, where it is still illegal to have marijuana in your possession or THC products in your possession. 

So what happens if are a non-U.S. citizen and you get arrested for possession of marijuana?

As one side of the law begins to legalize marijuana, you have to know that the Federal Immigration Law still views all illegal drugs, including marijuana, as a problem for immigrants. If convicted, you can get deported or become inadmissible.

What is the difference?

Federal immigration law says, if you are here in the United States and have one conviction for marijuana under 30 grams, you may be able to avoid becoming deportable. However,, you will automatically be inadmissible to the United States.

What happens if you are inadmissible? 

Inadmissible means that you can be denied entry to the United States if you leave the country and try to come back. For example, if you have been a permanent resident for many years but get a conviction for a small amount of marijuana under 30 grams, and you decide to travel outside the U.S.. When you come back into the country, immigration can deny your entry and you will be placed into removal proceedings.

If convicted, what do I do? 

Anytime you have a drug charge or are accused of possession of any drug, even marijuana, you need to talk to immigration and criminal defense lawyer right away. Jeff Peek is a Board Certified Immigration attorney with over 20 years of experience in immigration and criminal defense. 

You have to have a lawyer that knows both sides of the law, one that can counsel you through the criminal defense, but that also knows immigration laws so they can best protect you. 

What if where I live is legal to smoke marijuana? 

Now, if you’re in a state where it’s legal, you’re in a different position. You’re not going to be convicted because it’s not a crime anymore. However, under Federal Immigration Law, there’s another statute that states if you’re considered an addict or admit to committing a crime, you could potentially be inadmissible as well. Therefore, you’re not entirely free, although there is a lower risk of being charged with a crime. 

Please let us know if you have any questions or if you or a loved one is faced with a drug conviction. We are always happy to help you.  


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Posted in Drug Crimes, Immigration

4 Facts About Marijuana Penalties in Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 28, 2020

Attorney Steve Toland wraps up his series on THC infused products and marijuana laws in Texas. Today he discusses four facts regarding marijuana penalties here in Texas.

1. Marijuana is penalized the same it’s classified.
It’s classified by its descriptions, a green leafy substance, and its weight, which includes the leaves, stalk, and the stem. If it’s four ounces or less, it’s still a misdemeanor in Texas. If it’s a bit over four ounces up to five pounds, then it’s in a range of felonies from state jail felony to a first-degree felony.

2. THC infused products start at a felony.
Those include gummy bears, vape pens, cookies, brownies, all of those things. All of them start at a felony. The reason for that is that Texas quantifies THC products as penalty group two. That is the second-highest penalty group for controlled substances. And for that reason, any THC product, even a single gummy bear, starts at a felony.

3. THC infused products are quantified by their weight, which includes adulterants and dilutants.
The weight includes adulterants or dilutants, so that’s all the other ingredients that go into making the product, for example, a pot of brownies will consist of the weight of the eggs, the flour, the chocolate, etc. That extra weight could very well be a first-degree felony amount, and it’s a simple pan or pot of brownies. Many people, particularly young adults, who traveled to Colorado and came back to Texas, don’t realize that they could be committing a felony just by possessing those things.

5. The amount of THC products can be considered a controlled delivery.
In Texas, we have possession of controlled substances and then possession with intent to deliver. It is often based on the quantity of its usable amount for an individual or is it for more people. The more you have, the more likely you could be charged with a first-degree felony.

As always, if you have any questions about marijuana, THC products, or you know someone who was charged with something like this, reach out to us, we’d be glad to counsel you through it.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

THC Infused Products and Marijuana Laws in Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 21, 2020

Attorney Steve Toland continues his discussion about THC infused products and marijuana laws in Texas. Today he discusses one of the biggest misconceptions about THC infused products.

Colorado is one of the states where marijuana products are legal. If you were to purchase a gummy bear, a cookie, a vape pen with THC oil, a brownie, any edible products, and you bring those back to Texas, you are committing a felony. 

Every single product, no matter how innocuous or small gummy bears included are felonies. They start at a state jail felony and go all the way up to a first-degree felony. Many people don’t realize that, but that’s one of the more significant misconceptions about the new marijuana laws and THC. 

So how did, how did that come to be? 

Well, it starts with the definition of marijuana. In Texas, marijuana is defined by the description of its appearance, its texture, its odor, it’s a green leafy substance. THC oil though, is the oil that’s extracted from the plant itself. The oil has THC, the psychoactive component that gets you high. And it has it at such highly concentrated levels that the legislature in Texas ascribes a penalty group to assessment to that. 

If you have any questions about drugs at all, quantities amounts, marijuana charges. Reach out to me attorney Steve Toland or us here at Peek & Toland. We’re always glad to help.

We hope you’ll join us again on In Your Defense as we’ll wrap up our series on marijuana and cannabis, and we’ll talk more about the penalty ranges. 

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

3 Misconceptions About Marijuana Laws in Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 21, 2020

Attorney Steve Toland begins a series about marijuana laws in Texas, which are surprisingly confusing, mainly because there’s THC oil and THC infused products out there. Many of us get confused about what’s legal, what’s illegal, what’s a misdemeanor, what’s a felony. 

There are many misconceptions out there. Here at the top 3 most common misconceptions: 

1. We’re not aware of the difference between hemp and marijuana. 

Marijuana is still illegal. Texas defines it as just that green leafy substance in and of itself. However, hemp is just like marijuana, but it has a THC component of 0.03%, or lower THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, THC for short. It’s the psychoactive component that gets a person high. And so Texas legislature and its infinite wisdom said hemp has such a low amount of that psychoactive component that gets you high, so we’re going to make that legal, while marijuana is still illegal. 

2. The mass penalty range. 

Many people are unaware that marijuana is still penalized the same based on its weight; four ounces or less is a misdemeanor. We’ll talk more about this later. Anything above that up to five pounds is a felony, but THC oil is very different. Even a thimble amount, the smallest amount, a gummy bear size amount of THC oil is a felony massive amount of difference. We’re going to dive into those details in later episodes of In Your Defense.

3. Jurisdictions in Texas are handling them very differently

In some places, marijuana is not heavily criminalized. Sometimes it’s a ticketable offense, not arrestable anymore. And then in other jurisdictions in Texas, it’s handled just as seriously as it always has been. Same with vape pens, gummy bears, things like that. So it’s confusing, we understand. 

So we’re going to talk more about that as we began to unfold THC oil-infused products and gummies and those kinds of things and marijuana over the next couple of episodes as always, if you have any questions about drugs at all, quantities amounts, marijuana charges. Reach out to me attorney Steve Toland or us here at Peek & Toland. We’re always glad to help.

Posted in Criminal Defense, 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

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