What Determines Whether A Drug Charge Is Going To Be Considered A Misdemeanor Or A Felony? What Is The Difference Between States Vs. Federal Cases?
Generally, it determines what level of a charge is filed, if it is a misdemeanor, a felony or if it is under a state or federal crime, based on the amount of the drugs involved. However, there are some drugs that are automatically going to be a felony. For example, any amount of cocaine is a felony, but different amounts of marijuana can either be a misdemeanor and or felony.
Often, the federal government in the Houston, Harris County area, or the Southern District of Texas, will not get involved or accept charges on a drug case in federal court, unless it is a large amount of drugs or if they are investigating or prosecuting a drug trafficking organization.
Are There Any Charges In Relation To Cocaine that is going to be a Felony?
Yes. In the State of Texas, possession of cocaine in any amount is a felony. For example, even if there is a trace amount, that is a felony. The way the law reads is any amount of cocaine less than 1 gram is considered a felony and that is classified as a state jail felony. That is also the same for methamphetamine or heroin. That is considered to be in a penalty group that is an automatic felony if there is any amount less than 1 gram.
Oftentimes, in Harris County, the District Attorney’s office would file charges on someone who may have a crack pipe where there is actually no visible crack cocaine in the pipe, a trace amount or it has been smoked. If they find a trace amount, they will often file a felony charge on that person.
What Does “Schedules Of Controlled Substances”, Actually Mean Under Texas Law?
The schedules or the penalty groups are basically classifications of drugs that the Texas legislature has classified into certain categories. For example, cocaine is penalty group 1. You could basically say that penalty group 1 is the most severe category of the classification of drugs. Under this classification is also any amount of cocaine and heroin, these are considered a felony. Any amount of methamphetamine, which is penalty group 1, is also a felony. Those penalty groups will go all the way from penalty group 1 to penalty group 4. That is their level of severity, meaning penalty group 1 is the most severe that the legislature thinks. Those are various drugs that have been assigned to that penalty group. Depending on how the drugs are being abused or the amount of abuse that is occurring in Texas, those drugs can be moved up a penalty group. For example, hydrocodone used to be a penalty group 3 and has been moved up to make a smaller amount a higher degree criminal offense charge.
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