With the 2010-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health finding that Central Texas had the highest percentage of Texans in need of unmet substance use services, it is unsettling yet unsurprising that many of the Travis County jail residents have historically met the criteria for substance use disorder. Despite drug crimes being the number one most common crime in Texas, those charged with possessing or using drugs are often treated harshly by the state, with possession of fewer than one gram of certain drugs like cocaine resulting in a felony jail sentence. With Austin lacking the resources to provide adequate rehabilitation and recovery to those with substance use disorder, it is important for those struggling to be aware of the local possession laws and drug courts and become familiar with how an Austin drug attorney can help if you happen to be arrested with drug charges.
Austin Texas Possession Laws:
While Austin residents in 2022 voted to decriminalize the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana, and the Travis County District Attorney has vowed to refrain from prosecuting the possession or sale of a gram or less of narcotics, Austin remains steadfast in enforcing the remainder of Texas’ drug possession laws, including:
Possession of a Controlled Substance: In Texas, the penalties for possession of a controlled substance fall into four different categories and vary greatly depending on the quantity and type of drug in possession.
- Group 1 Penalties and Drugs: Drugs classified as group 1 are the most severely penalized drugs in Texas, with possession of fewer than one gram (in areas outside of Austin where these quantities are prosecuted) constituting a state jail felony. Possessing 4 to 200 grams of a group 1 drug constitutes a 2nd-degree felony which carries a federal prison sentence of 2 to 20 years and fines up to $10,000.
Group 1 Drugs Include: Cocaine, heroin, meth and crystal meth, codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone, hallucinogens and psilocybin, ketamine, and mescaline.
LSD is categorized as a Group 1-A substance with penalties for possession of fewer than 20 units being equivalent to a state jail felony consisting of 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Group 2 Penalties and Drugs: Group 2 drugs are the second most harshly persecuted class of drugs in Texas, with possession of one gram to fewer than four grams constituting a 3rd-degree felony carrying a federal prison sentence of two to ten years and fines up to $10,000.
Group 2 Drugs Include: Ecstasy, hashish, PCP, and cannabis wax or resin.
- Group 3 Penalties and Drugs: Group 3 drugs carry the least severe penalties, with possession of fewer than 28 grams being considered a Class-A misdemeanor with charges including a county jail sentence of 180 days to a year and fines up to $10,000.
Group 3 Drugs Include: Xanax, Valium, Ritalin, Benzodiazepines, and anabolic steroids
- Group 4 Penalties and Drugs: Group 4 drugs carry the same penalties as group 3 drugs, and include all opioids not listed in group 1 through 3 as well as various prescriptions with a likelihood of abuse.
Drug Court and Austin Drug Attorneys:
An Austin drug attorney can help with navigating drug court, which is mandatory for certain low level drug crimes in Travis County. Instead of sending individuals to prison, Drug courts enforce a 10 to 18 months program similar to probation, during which individuals receive drug treatments and mental health services while being frequently monitored and drug tested. Being tried in drug court is more favorable than criminal court, as those who successfully complete the program oftentimes have their charges dropped, and are five times less likely to reoffend and overall more likely to be rehabilitated than those sent to prison for drugs.
If your case is not found automatically eligible for drug court in Travis County, an Austin drug attorney can advocate for your eligibility to avoid prison and ensure the best chances at a drug and crime free life. If your case is unable to be tried in drug court, an expert drug attorney can aid in convincing the judge and prosecution to grant you a reduced sentence.