Although marijuana has been legalized even for recreational purposes in several other states, Texas law still provides for harsh penalties even for possessing a small amount of marijuana with no prior offenses. The penalties for possessing larger amounts of cannabis, possessing cannabis with intent to sell or deliver, or trafficking in marijuana, comes with even harsher penalties.
Marijuana Possession Crimes Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX
Call for a consultation to discuss the charges pending against you, ways to avoid the typical penalties, and the best defenses that can be used to fight for an outright dismissal or reduction in the charges so that a conviction can be avoided.
Avoiding a conviction is important so that you do not face jail time or a suspension of your driving privileges in the State of Texas. Any drug conviction, even for marijuana, has other serious collateral consequences to finding housing or pursuing higher education opportunities in a college or university.
Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy in Fort Worth, TX, to learn more about the best ways to fight a marijuana charge. Our firm represents clients throughout Tarrant County and Southlake, Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, and the Keller, TX area. Call (817) 422-5350
Definition of Marijuana in Texas
The term “marijuana” is defined by Texas Health and Safety Code as any Cannabis sativa plant, whether it is growing or not, the seeds of the plant, and any preparation of the plant such as a joint or a package containing dried and shredded buds.
Penalties for Marijuana Possession Offenses in Texas
For purposes of the penalties imposed, marijuana is in its own category when compared to other types of drugs. The laws in Texas for the possession of marijuana depend on the amount of marijuana possessed.
- possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by not more than 180 days in county jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,000;
- possession of more than 2 ounces, but less than 4 ounces of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by not more than 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of not more than $4,000;
- possession of more than 4 ounces, but less than 5 pounds of marijuana is a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to 2 years in a state jail and/or a fine of not more than $10,000;
- possession of more than 5 pounds, but less than 50 pounds of marijuana is a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000;
- possession of more than 50 pounds, but less than 2,000 of marijuana is a second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000; or
- possession of more than 2,000 pounds Enhanced first-degree felony punishable by 5 to 99 years and a fine of not more than $50,000.
Additionally, any conviction for a violation of the Texas Controlled Substances Act, including the simple misdemeanor possession of marijuana, will result in a suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months following a conviction.
Texas Laws on Proving Possession of Marijuana
To prove unlawful possession, the prosecutor with the State of Texas must establish that the accused exercised care, control, or management over the contraband and knew that the substance was in fact contraband. The prosecutor may attempt to prove these elements through direct or circumstantial evidence, but the evidence must establish that the accused’s connection with the substance was more than merely fortuitous.
In other words, mere presence in the same place as the controlled substance will not support a conviction for possession of marijuana. Presence or proximity, when combined with other evidence, either direct or circumstantial, may establish possession.
Under Texas law, possession also need not be exclusive. In other words, two or more people can theoretically possess the same item. When a defendant is not in exclusive possession of the place where the substance is found, additional independent facts and circumstances must exist linking him to the contraband.
Texas courts have recognized a non-exclusive list of circumstances tending to establish affirmative links that will support an inference of possession, including the defendant’s proximity to and the accessibility of the contraband. Other factors that can be used to support a finding of constructive possession include:
- whether the contraband was in plain view;
- the defendant’s presence when a search was conducted;
- whether the defendant was found with large amounts of cash;
- whether the defendant’s conduct indicated a consciousness of guilt;
- whether the place where the drugs were found was enclosed;
- whether the defendant owned or had the right to possess the place where the drugs were found;
- whether other contraband or drug paraphernalia was present;
- whether an odor of contraband existed;
- whether the defendant made furtive gestures;
- whether the defendant attempted to flee;
- whether the defendant made incriminating statements when arrested;
- whether the defendant possessed other contraband when arrested; and
- whether the defendant was under the influence of narcotics when arrested.
The courts in Tarrant County, TX, will consider the logical force of all direct and circumstantial evidence and not just the number of links. The absence of various affirmative links can constitute evidence of innocence to be weighed against the affirmative links that do exist.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you learn more about the way a prosecutor in the Fort Worth courthouse will attempt to prove that you constructive possessed marijuana even though you were not actually found to be in possession.
Deferred Prosecution Program for Marijuana Crimes in Tarrant County, TX
Many of the most common drug crimes in Tarrant County are eligible for the Deferred Prosecution Program. The track B eligible marijuana offenses include:
- Possession of marihuana 2-4 ounces, drug-free zone – (SJF)
- Possession of marihuana under 2 ounces, drug-free zone – (M)
- Possession of marihuana 2-4 ounces – (M)
- Possession of marihuana under 2 ounces – (M)
The main benefit of entering the deferred prosecution program in Tarrant County for a marijuana offense is that after the program is completed, the application may be entitled to an immediate expunction under Art. 76.011 of the Texas Government and Article 55.01 of the code of criminal procedure.
DFCM Basic Track for Marijuana Crimes in Tarrant County, TX
Pursuant to an administrative order dated September 16, 2013, the courts in Tarrant County have implemented a Differentiated Felony Case Management System (DFCM) for different types of felony marijuana cases under a basic track. Felony marijuana crimes in Tarrant County that take the basic track include:
- Delivery of marihuana > 1%: oz.; and
- Possession of marihuana > 4 oz.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Marijuana Possession | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you were charged with intentionally or knowingly possessing a usable quantity of marihuana, then contact an experienced drug crime attorney in Fort Worth, TX. Our attorneys represent clients on a variety of marijuana crimes from simple possession to more serious offenses for possession with intent to sell, sale or delivery, cultivation or trafficking.
Call today for a consultation to discuss your case, ways to avoid the typical penalties, and possible defenses to fight the charges for an outright dismissal. Call (817) 422-5350 today.
Yes, marijuana remains illegal in Texas, although a law legalizing hemp in 2019 led to marijuana prosecutions in Texas plummeting by more than half in the six months after the law was enacted. While many police departments lack the equipment needed to determine the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in alleged marijuana to distinguish it from hemp, it remains likely that law enforcement will continue to arrest individuals for alleged marijuana possession offenses.
The possible disciplinary measures of a court in a marijuana case will depend on multiple factors, largely the amount of marijuana that was allegedly possessed. A person’s prior criminal record could also impact penalties in marijuana cases. In general, the most common kinds of penalties are usually fines and imprisonment, but additional penalties could include driver’s license suspensions and other punishments.
Police officers can arrest individuals who they believe were in knowing possession of marijuana, and possession may be actual or constructive. Actual possession is when marijuana is found on the person of an individual, whether it is in their pocket or their hands. Constructive possession means that a person could be accused of possession when marijuana is found in an area accessible to multiple people.
The record of the arrest could be public and be available to many people who perform background checks. While an arrest is not the same as a conviction, it can still appear on a criminal record and have possible negative complications for employment applications or college-related efforts.
Many marijuana cases are thrown out when police officers violate the rights of alleged offenders in their encounters with them. An unlawful search and seizure is one of the most common defenses against any drug charge because when police seize evidence unlawfully, it is prohibited from being used as evidence by a prosecutor and they are subsequently left without anything to pursue a case with.
A lawyer is immediately going to be able to conduct their own investigation into the arrest and determine the strongest possible defenses in your case. The attorney will know what kinds of evidence to seek out and how to use certain elements to your advantage. When you have a lawyer, they will also be more comfortable negotiating with a prosecutor to achieve a reduction in or dismissal of criminal charges.
A prosecutor must prove your guilt for any marijuana crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an exceptionally high bar to satisfy. You can achieve a not guilty verdict by simply giving a jury enough reason to doubt any element of a prosecutor’s case. An acquittal can be achieved through a dedicated effort to attack every element of the case against you.
Community service is one of the most common kinds of punishments for alleged offenders instead of prison sentences. It is also possible that a person could be sentenced to a term of probation in which they have to check in regularly with a probation officer. Court-ordered participation in a drug treatment program could also be possible in some cases.
Your employment situation will depend on how aggressively your employer enforces drug convictions. Some employers may have no tolerance for these kinds of issues and could terminate you just for an arrest, but other employers may not conduct any kind of background check needed to uncover the violation.
The answer will again depend on the school, as some colleges vigorously enforce their codes of conduct while others are far more lenient. Suspensions and expulsions are possible in some cases.
It may. Landlords run background checks on most prospective tenants in Texas, and a marijuana conviction could indeed be used as a reason to deny a person the opportunity to rent an apartment.