Heroin is considered a dangerous, deadly, and a highly addictive drug which has taken America by storm in recent years and has even garnered the attention of The White House. When an individual is accused of heroin possession in Austin they’ll face criminal charges under felony guidelines and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Even if an individual was arrested for the possession of trace amounts of heroin that’s hardly detectable, it’s a felony in the state of Texas.
Furthermore, if a person is arrested for the distribution of large amounts of heroin, the federal government might pick up the case. Also, if a person is arrested for the possession of a small amount of heroin in addition to large amounts of cash, baggies, a scale, or any other device which might imply sales, they’ll be charged for the distribution and manufacture of heroin which raises the stakes even more.
Georgetown Heroin Possession Attorney | Williamson County, TX
If you’re facing criminal charges for heroin possession in Austin, Travis County, or in the surrounding jurisdictions, don’t hesitate to get in contact with The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski for legal representation and a free case evaluation. The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski is committed to providing excellent legal representation complete with aggressive advocacy for our clients who come from all walks of life.
Even for individuals who are guilty of the crime of which they were accused, having an excellent lawyer on your side could mean the difference between an effective life sentence and a minimal sentence. Call 512-960-4646 to schedule your first consultation.
Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin and Georgetown but accepts clients throughout Texas including Travis County, Williamson County, Bell County, Bastrop County, Burnett County, Hays County, Caldwell County, Blanco County, Lee County, Milam County, Hays County, and Caldwell County.
- Heroin Possession in Texas
- What Is A Controlled Substance?
- What Are The Penalties For Heroin Possession In Texas?
- Statute Of Limitations For Heroin Possession
- Defenses To Heroin Possession In Texas
- Additional Resources
Heroin Possession in Texas
Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.115, “an individual who knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 1” commits a criminal offense in violation of Texas law. Breaking down the terms in the law should provide a better understanding.
First, “knowingly or intentionally” means that the individual had specific and actual knowledge that the controlled substance, like heroin, was in the vicinity. The individual must have voluntarily participated in possessing the illegal substance or at least must have been aware that the substance was present.
“Possession,” as provided by Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.002(38), is defined as exercising “actual care, custody, control, or management” of heroin in any amount. This means that possession is not limited to having heroin on an individual’s person. For example, suppose an individual never touched the heroin but directed others in the vicinity to move it for them or place it in a location suited to their liking. In this case, the individual directing has maintained control and management of the heroin and may be considered in “possession” of the drug. Similarly, suppose an individual solely possessed a key to a safety deposit box or locker which contained heroin. In that case, there may be enough control to establish that the individual was in possession of the heroin.
What Is A Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance may be considered any street drug, prescription medication, or chemical regulated by either Texas or the federal government. This regulation often includes restrictions on the manufacturing, distribution, usage, ingestion, or possession (such as needing a valid prescription) of these chemicals. Heroin is a controlled substance for purposes of both Texas and federal law. Heroin cannot ordinarily be lawfully possessed because medical-grade heroin is not typically prescribed in the United States.
Texas’ penalty groups are categories which different drugs and chemicals fall into. These penalty groups aim to assign more serious or dangerous drugs a higher criminal penalty for possession, distribution, or manufacture. Heroin falls into Penalty Group 1, reserved for the most dangerous, addictive, or serious controlled substances. As it is sorted into Penalty Group 1, heroin possession is a severe crime in Texas.
What Are The Penalties For Heroin Possession In Texas?
Criminal penalties for heroin possession in Texas range broadly depending on the amount of the drug in the defendant’s possession. The respective quantities and penalties are:
- Less than one gram – Possessing less than a gram results in a Texas “state jail felony.” The penalty qualifies as a felony offense but typically does not result in prison time. However, a state jail felony may be punished by 180 days to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- One gram to less than four grams – Possessing between one and four grams of heroin will constitute a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony can result in two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Four grams to 199 grams – Conviction of possession of heroin between four grams and 199 grams can result in a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by two to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Two-hundred to 399 grams – Possession between 200 to 399 grams may result in a first-degree felony, one of the most serious crimes in Texas. A first-degree felony is punishable by five years to life (99 years) in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Four hundred grams and over – Possessing any amount over 400 grams of heroin can result in an enhanced first-degree felony. This enhancement can mean that the individual’s prison sentence could range from ten years to life (99 years). The convicted individual can also be hit with a fine of up to $100,000.
Each penalty for heroin possession is a felony. Felonies can have severe consequences beyond jail or prison time and may affect an individual for the rest of their life. It is vital to receive assistance from competent professionals when dealing with any heroin possession charges.
Statute Of Limitations For Heroin Possession
A statute of limitations is a law enacted by states and the federal government that requires charges to be brought before a set time expires. If this period expires, the prosecution may be barred from bringing criminal charges against a defendant.
The statute of limitations for Texas felony drug crimes is typically three years. This means that the State prosecution must charge the defendant with heroin possession within three years of discovering that said defendant committed the crime.
It is important to note that distributing drugs to a minor can be an exception to the statute of limitations. If drugs are distributed to a minor, then the duration for the statute of limitations changes.
A charge for heroin possession will typically carry the three-year statute of limitations because the elements for possession do not typically involve harming others, distribution to a minor, or related disqualifiers. These charges can be brought separately or in conjunction with a possession charge, but that may not affect the statute of limitations for the possession charge.
Defenses To Heroin Possession In Texas
Several defenses can be strategically employed in fighting a heroin possession case. Notably, the use of these defenses is best left to a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. However, below are a few examples of common defenses to heroin possession.
Lack Of Evidence To Support Knowingly Or Intentionally Possessing Heroin
In convicting the defendant, the prosecution must prove the ‘knowingly or intentionally’ element. This may sound like a no-brainer, but in some cases, it can be a pivotal factor in convicting beyond a reasonable doubt.
As mentioned above, the defendant must have had actual knowledge that the heroin was in the vicinity and that the substance was illegal. Intentionally means that the defendant must have purposefully, or with a set goal in mind, maintained custody, control, or management of the controlled substance.
For example, suppose the defendant gave his friend a ride to the bus station, and inadvertently, a baggie of heroin fell out of the friend’s pocket and into the defendant’s car between the passenger seat and the door. After the friend is dropped off, the defendant is pulled over, and a law enforcement officer finds the heroin in the car. In this case, the defendant has neither the intent nor the knowledge required for a conviction. If the prosecution, in this case, cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a trier of fact (jury or sometimes judge) that the defendant knew of the heroin, or intended to possess or use it, then there may not be a conviction.
Illegal Search And Seizure
The Fourth Amendment protects against illegal searches and seizures of persons and property. Sometimes, law enforcement officers overstep procedural boundaries and violate citizens’ rights. In these cases, evidence can often be suppressed due to the violation of the defendant’s rights.
Some searches without probable cause—as determined by a judge—may yield evidence that could be suppressed in court. This evidence may include the drugs, drug paraphernalia, or other concrete evidence linking the defendant to a crime. Suppression of this evidence can potentially destroy the prosecution’s case and get charges against the defendant dropped.
Errors In The Chain Of Custody
If a defendant were found possessing heroin, that heroin would be confiscated and likely sent for testing to ensure it was a controlled substance. This evidence may see a change in custody many times, and the complete list of exchanges is known as the chain of custody. If the chain of custody is not well documented or “broken,” there may be grounds to exclude the evidence. If the heroin is excluded from evidence, the prosecution’s case against the defendant may fall apart. To convict the defendant, the prosecution must prove that the substance possessed by the defendant was, in fact, a controlled substance.
Texas Health and Human Services – The Texas Health and Human Services website provides information regarding adult substance use and abuse. While being very informative, the website also provides plentiful resources for Texans to find help with their substance use.
Texas Health and Safety Code – Title 6, Subtitle C, Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code can be found through this link. This is the relevant Texas statute for controlled substance offenses.
Austin Heroin Possession Lawyer | Travis County, TX
If you or a loved one were arrested for the possession or distribution of heroin in Austin, The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski can help. Jackson F. Gorski understands how being accused of a drug offense can affect your entire life. He will do everything possible to protect your good name and exonerate you from the charges or get a lesser sentence if convicted.
Call 512-960-4646 to schedule a free consultation today. The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin and Georgetown, TX.