Texas law defines the possession of a dangerous drug as the care, custody, control, or management of a substance obtained illegally. The state must prove that the defendant not only had the illegal item but that it was also knowingly and willingly in their possession.
While many defendants are charged after gaining possession of dangerous drugs illegally, charges can also be filed against those who keep a legally purchased drug in a container other than the original prescription bottle. While these individuals are not guilty of the offense, arrests under these circumstances are common.
If you’ve been arrested for the possession of a dangerous drug in Texas, contact the Law Office of Eric Harron today. I am an experienced trial attorney with a strong record of defending my clients. Dangerous drug charges can be very serious in the state of Texas, and you should have an attorney who knows the law for possession of illegal drugs inside and out.
What Is Considered a Dangerous Drug?
When you hear the term “dangerous drug,” your thoughts probably turn to harmful drugs that get a lot of coverage in the media: cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, etc. However, a dangerous drug, as defined by Texas law, has a very specific meaning that actually doesn’t include just any drug that’s considered harmful.
Dangerous drugs typically cover most prescription drugs. Specifically, it is any drugs or devices that are unsafe for self-medication. They are also unscheduled drugs, meaning drugs that have not been placed in Schedules by the Controlled Substances Act.
Schedules are a way to regulate drugs according to their abuse potential. There are five different schedules. Schedule I signifies high abuse potential for abuse, with each number representing a lower potential for abuse with Schedule V being the lowest.
While they may not appear in the DEA Schedules, dangerous drugs must still be prescribed from a licensed healthcare professional or by some other means allowed by the state. Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium are commonly the cause of dangerous drug charges.
Dangerous Drug vs Controlled Substance
It’s important to know the difference between a dangerous drug charge and a controlled substance. While dangerous drugs usually refer to prescription drugs, controlled substances are scheduled drugs that can be highly addictive and have restrictions on how they can be filled and refilled. They also include drugs not available for prescription. Common examples of controlled substances include heroin, methamphetamine and AHDH medications like Adderall.
How Could I Be Charged?
Charges for dangerous drug possession are usually determined by the amount of the drug in the defendant’s possession. Depending on weight, these charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Even if you have a prescription for the drug in question, it has to be filled by an authorized individual. Buying from any other individual is illegal, and you can be prosecuted. You can also face criminal charges if you attempt to make an unauthorized sale of a dangerous drug you legally acquired. Filling the prescription means it is authorized for your use only.
Carrying dangerous drugs in a container other than the prescription bottle they came in may also lead to a criminal charge. However, these cases can likely be dismissed if you show that you held a valid prescription when you were arrested.
What Are Potential Consequences from the Possession of a Dangerous Drug Arrest?
Texas has very strict laws for the possession of illegal drugs. Any amount of a dangerous drug less than 28 grams is a class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to one year in county jail. Any amount greater than 28 grams is a felony but will vary in severity depending on the weight.
Drug prosecution varies wildly among counties in Texas. For example in Travis County, drug charges are comparatively easier to deal with than in many other counties. Many counties are willing to reduce or dismiss the charge if the defendant takes classes or performs community service. Others are harsher and want formal probation or jail time.
Will Possession of Dangerous Drugs Affect My Driving Privileges?
If at all possible, you want to avoid taking a formal conviction for possession of a dangerous drug to not only protect your criminal record but your driving privileges driver’s license as well.
A conviction for possession of a dangerous drug also carries with it an automatic 180-day driver’s license suspension. This applies regardless if driving was involved in your arrest for possession of a dangerous drug.
How Do You Defend Against Possession of Dangerous Drug Charges?
It varies significantly from case to case how I handle possession of dangerous drug charges. It largely depends on the county the defendant is charged in, the circumstances surrounding the arrest, and the amount of the drug. Usually, these cases hinge on either the lawfulness of the initial contact with law enforcement or the lawfulness of the search that yielded the drugs. Each case requires a complete analysis to determine what cracks the defense can use to their advantage.
What Are Exemptions in Possession of Dangerous Drug Cases?
Every one of the substances considered a dangerous drug has a legal intended use. If you were arrested for possession of dangerous drugs and feel that you were using them for their intended purpose, after receiving them through legal means, this is an excellent beginning of a defense.
Of course, having a current prescription for the drug is an absolute defense. But, that’s not the only situation where dangerous drug possession charges can be dismissed. Sometimes, I can negotiate a dismissal of the charge if the client takes classes or performs community service. In other circumstances, I have to employ every legal defense at my disposal to keep the client out of jail and save their criminal record.
What Should You Look for in a Defense Attorney
When selecting an attorney to handle your PODD charge, it is important to consider whether they frequently practice in the county where your case is pending. This ensures they will be familiar with any local programs that may be employed in your defense as well as traditional legal defenses. I have represented defendants throughout central Texas for years helping many clients have their charges dismissed. My law office currently serves the following areas:
I encourage you to call and set up a free consultation if you have a pending PODD charge. I am also deeply committed to representing clients in family and assault family violence.