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Texas drug possession and distribution penalties

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Distributing illegal drugs is always charged as a felony in Texas, but not all offenders are treated harshly. The prison sentences that can be handed down for possessing or selling controlled substances in the Lone Star State range from 180 days in a state jail to life imprisonment. Drugs are classified based on their addictive properties and whether or not they have any accepted medical uses. Offenders in Texas face the most severe penalties when they are convicted of distributing large quantities of highly addictive drugs that are not used in medicine.

The Texas Controlled Substances Act

The Texas Controlled Substances Act sorts controlled substances into four penalty groups and three penalty subgroups. Marijuana is classified separately because it is not considered a dangerous drug. The controlled substance penalty groups and subgroups that are used to determine drug charges and penalties in Texas are:

  • Opiates, methamphetamine, GHB, ketamine, heroin and cocaine are in Penalty Group 1.
  • LSD is the only drug in Penalty Group 1-A.
  • Fentanyl is the only drug in Penalty Group 1-B.
  • Hallucinogens and central nervous system depressants are in Penalty Group 2.
  • Cannabinoids and synthetic marijuana are in Penalty Group 2-A.
  • Ritalin, Xanax, benzos and other depressants and stimulants are in Penalty Group 3.
  • Codeine and other prescription opiates not included in Penalty Group 1 are in Penalty Group 4.

Drug distribution penalties

The custodial penalties for possessing or distributing illegal drugs in Texas can be severe. Possessing less than a gram of a Penalty Group 1, 1-B or 2 drug carries a sentence of between 180 days and two years in a state jail, but being convicted of possessing more than 400 grams of these controlled substances could put an offender behind bars for up to 99 years.

Judicial discretion

Texas law allows judges to hand down harsh sentences for possessing or distributing illegal drugs, but it also allows them to show leniency when mitigating factors are present. A judge in the Lone Star State could sentence an offender convicted of possessing more than 2,000 pounds of a Penalty Group 2-A drug to life imprisonment, or he or she could hand down a custodial sentence of only five years.