The Texas Health and Safety Code provides guidance for dealing with drug trafficking infractions, and as is often the case, fallout depends largely on the amount of drugs involved and any connected crimes that occur as a result.
To get a drug trafficking conviction, the prosecution must prove the defendant knowingly delivered an illegal substance as dictated by the Texas Controlled Substances Act. The four main groups are as follows:
- Penalty Group I: cocaine, heroin, ketamine, oxycodone, hydrocodone (more than 300 mg), or methamphetamine.
- Penalty Group II: ecstasy, MDMA, phencyclidine, THC oil, marinol, psilocybin, and mushrooms.
- Penalty Group III: anabolic steroids, hydrocodone (under 300 mg), lorazepam, ritalin, valium, and xanax.
- Penalty Group IV: Mixtures/compounds with trace codeine amounts or small quantities of opium.
What a Drug Trafficking Conviction Means
Drug trafficking in small amounts can bring light penalties (six months to two years in state jail), with or without an accompanying fine. Larger quantities (400 grams or more) will be punished severely. Some cases have resulted in 15-99-year prison sentences and up to $250,000 in fines.
If you’re accused of drug trafficking, you have five core defenses to consider.
1. Lack of Knowledge
Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but it can reduce severity in the eyes of judge and jury. If you did not know you were trafficking drugs and the prosecution cannot prove you were, then you are positioned well against any case that might be brought against you.
Doing something under duress means you are doing it because you feel threatened or coerced out of fear for your own safety or the safety of loved ones. For example, a drug cartel threatens your family if you don’t do what they wish.
3. Not for Human Consumption
Yes, you were carrying the substance, but there was another (legal) purpose behind it — delivering to a pain clinic, for example.
4. Mistake of Fact
The mistake of fact defense shows that you were under the assumption the substance you were trafficking was something other than what it turned out to be. That case of Sweet ‘N Low turns out to be some cleverly disguised cocaine, for example.
5. The Drugs Aren’t Yours
You’re riding in a relative’s car. They get pulled over. A search turns up a stash of illegal drugs. Prosecutors must prove you had knowledge and possession of the drugs to pursue charges. Claiming the drugs did not belong to you and that you had no knowledge (see defense number one) can be effective.
Brought into a drug trafficking case? Know your rights, and don’t delay seeking appropriate legal representation. Dallas-based attorney John Teakell has more than three decades of experience building legal strategies for defendants in these types of cases, and he’s eager to help. Contact his office for a free consultation.