Drug Crimes - Possession for Sale
If you or someone you love have been recently charged with drug possession with intent to sell in the state of Texas, you are facing serious consequences that could affect you for the rest of your life. Drug crimes in general, including even simple possession (for personal use only) are treated more harshly in Texas than in most other states, but possession for sale incurs particularly severe sentences.
At the Law Office of Brian J. Newman, we have intricate knowledge of the Texas Controlled Substances Act and all other legislation impinging upon Texas drug crime cases. We also have extensive experience at handling possession for sale cases in the Ft. Worth area and have accumulated a long track record of achieving the best possible outcome for each of our clients.
How Is Possession for Sale Defined in Texas Law?
The Texas Controlled Substances Act uses different terminology in defining what, in most others states, is referred to as "drug possession with intent to sell" or simply "possession for sale." The criminal category "manufacture or delivery of drugs" is used as a de facto equivalent to selling drugs or "drug dealing." Thus, "possession with intent to deliver" amounts to possession for sale in Texas courts.
Intending to give an illegal drug or a substance intentionally made to look like an illegal drug (a "fake" drug) to another person counts as intent to deliver/sell. It does not matter whether or not any compensation was going to be received nor if you were going to have someone else deliver it for you — it is still intent to sell. And if you give, for example, a key to a car containing illegal drugs in it to another person, the giving of access to the drugs equals the same thing as giving out the drugs themselves.
Possible Penalties for Possession for Sale
While punishments for possession for sale are always harsh, they vary greatly based on a number of factors, including the type and quantity of the drug involved and the existence of any past drug crimes convictions.
Intent to sell is an aggravating factor that raises the sentencing level "one degree" over the corresponding simple possession punishment. For example, possessing a single gram of cocaine is a "state jail felony," which can get anything from a 180-day to two-year prison term and a maximum fine of $10,000. But that becomes a third-degree felony when intent to sell is added to the charge, which keeps the same fine but ups the prison term to two to 10 years.
Texas also divides all controlled substances into five penalty "groups" plus a separate category for marijuana. The groupings are as follows:
- Group One: The most dangerous and addictive drugs, having no recognized medical usage. Cocaine, heroin, and meth are among the drugs in this category. Sub-group "1A" contains only LSD.
- Group Two: PCP and ecstasy are in this group. Each higher group number is progressively less dangerous/addictive and progressively more widely recognized to have medical usages.
- Group Three: Valium, Ritalin, and Xanax are in this group.
- Group Four: Dionine, Buprenorphine, and Pryovalerone, among other drugs, are in Group Four.
- Marijuana: The cannabis sativa plant, its seeds, and any of its products count as marijuana under Texas law.
To give an example of the range of punishment possible for possession for sale, here are the sentences when Group One, Group Four, or marijuana are involved:
- Group One: Possession for sale of less than one gram is punished by up to two years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000; one to four grams gets you two to 10 years in prison plus the $10,000 fine; four to 200 grams receives two to 20 years; 200 to 400 grams receives five years to life imprisonment.
- Group Four: Possession for sale of less the 28 grams can be punished be up to 180 days in county jail and up to a $2,000 fine; 28 to 200 grams brings two to 10 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine; over 400 grams brings five years to life in prison and up to a $50,000 fine.
- Marijuana: Possession for sale of less than two ounces of marijuana is a Class-B misdemeanor, punishable by 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine; two to four ounces brings it to a Class-A misdemeanor and gets you up to a year in county jail and a $4,000 fine; only at 2,000 or more pounds is life imprisonment and a $50,000 fine possible.
The punishments for actually delivering/selling a controlled substance rather than simply intending to do so are higher. The minimum sentence, in that case, is 180 days to two years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; the maximum is 15 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. For marijuana delivery/sales, however, the maximum is 10 years to life and up to a $100,000 fine.
When Is Possession for Sale Charged?
Many times, undercover police agents, or informants working with them, pose as drug users/distributors and "offer" to take the delivery. They may also simply do surveillance to spot potential drug dealing. The testimony of police and their informants will be used in court against the defendant in such cases, but more evidence is needed than simply an officer saying he saw a drug deal.
For a prosecutor to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you are guilty of drug possession, he must show that you had a controlled substance on your person or under your control, that you knew it was a controlled substance, and that you did not have a valid prescription for the drug.
To further demonstrate that you intended to sell/distribute the drug in question, such factors as the following will often be used:
- You were arrested in a location often used for drug dealing purposes.
- The amount of drugs you possessed was too much for merely personal use.
- The drugs were packaged in a way that indicates you were going to distribute them.
- Drug paraphernalia and/or large stashes of cash were found on the premises.
- You may not even have been a drug user yourself.
Common Defenses Against Possession for Sale?
A good defense lawyer can often defeat charges of possession for sale or get them reduced to a lesser charge with any of the following arguments:
- The defendant was not aware he/she was in possession of a controlled substance.
- The drug in question was never meant for human consumption.
- The drug had an FDA-approved usage, which is why the defendant possessed it.
- It was medical marijuana, and the defendant had a valid prescription.
- It was another drug for which the defendant had a valid prescription.
- The defendant did not possess a sufficient amount of the drug for usage or sale, but only mere traces.
Drug Diversion Programs
Texas and Tarrant County offer a number of drug diversion programs for non-violent offenders. These programs are not available to those convicted of drug possession with intent to sell/deliver, however, a skilled lawyer may be able to get a plea deal that would reduce the charges to simple possession.
Texas PC Section 1000 is a drug diversion program available only to first-time offenders, while Prop 36 establishes a diversion program for first or second time offenders. Diversion programs replace jail/prison time with drug treatment and education and keep a drug conviction off your permanent criminal record.
Contact Us Today
When facing a serious allegation with potentially life-changing consequences, such as a Texas possession for sale charge, defendants do well to avail themselves of a skilled criminal defense lawyer with deep experience in this area of the Texas legal code.
Brian J. Newman has the training and experience necessary to win your possession for sale case. He has handled these and other drug crime cases for many years at his Fort Worth area legal practice, and he knows how to achieve the most favorable outcome possible for your case.
For a Free Legal Consultation and immediate attention to your case, contact the Law Office of Brian J. Newman 24/7 by calling 817-231-0023.