Overall, possession is one of the most misunderstood terms related to criminal offenses. Generally speaking, possession means actual care, custody, control of an illegal substance. Unfortunately, the term is used very broadly for drug related offenses. In other words, it is not very difficult for an officer to arrest someone for drugs.
All in all, Texas laws regarding controlled substances are particularly strict. However, offense levels and punishment for possession of a controlled substance varies widely. For example, the offense level depends on several factors such as the type of drug, quantity, how the drug was stored or concealed, possession of paraphernalia like scales, baggies or large amounts of cash and even the location of the offense. Additionally, the Texas Controlled Substances Act categorizes drugs into four different “penalty groups.” Accordingly, each penalty group has its own classifications and penalties. However, it is important to note that marijuana is classified in a category on its own.
In Texas, a person commits an offense of manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance if the person knowingly manufactures, delivers or possesses with the intent to deliver a controlled substance. Furthermore, it is important to note, intent to distribute or sell drugs can be proven by circumstantial evidence. Accordingly, prosecutors must prove that the accused:
- “exercised care…and management of the controlled substance” in question;
- “intended to deliver” the substance to another person; and
- “knew” the substance in possession was a controlled substance.
Drug trafficking is the act of transporting any controlled substance into Texas illegally with the intent to either distribute or possess it. In general, drug smuggling involves crossing state lines. Accordingly, drug smuggling is a federal crime. As a result, drug smuggling charges follow federal sentencing guidelines.
It may come as a surprise to many but it is illegal to possess items related to drug use even if you don’t actually have any drugs on you. Drug paraphernalia can be any item that can be used in connection with illegal drugs. As a result, ordinary household items such as spoons and sifters can be illegal to possess depending on the circumstances. Other types of paraphernalia include pipes, scales, baggies, syringes and drug testing kits. In Texas, possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class C Misdemeanor, the equivalent of a traffic ticket.