Marijuana Possession Crimes in Texas
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 delivery, or trafficking in marijuana, comes with even harsher penalties.
Attorney for Marijuana Possession Crimes in Fort Worth, TX
Call for a free 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 Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy in Fort Worth, TX, to learn more about the best ways to fight a marijuana charge in Tarrant County.
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 including.
- possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by not more than 180 days in a 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 a 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 a 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 a 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 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.
Finding a Lawyer for Possession of Marijuana Crimes in Tarrant County, TX
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 free 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.
This article was last updated on Friday, April 14, 2017.