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Drug Crime Penalties

It can be argued that the punishment does not fit the crime, but Texas law and federal law nonetheless impose stiff penalties for drug crimes. Federal prosecutors do not always have leeway to negotiate and judges' hands may be tied by mandatory minimum sentences. State or county prosecutors have more leeway in negotiating and there is a much greater variation in sentencing in state courts.

If you are facing any drug offense, from misdemeanor possession to felony trafficking or possession with intent to sell charges, it is critical to involve an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early as possible. At Rush & Gransee, L.C., our legal knowledge and courtroom experience may literally make the difference between jail and freedom.

We handle drug crime defense in Bexar County and adjoining jurisdictions of South Texas. Call 210-223-9200 or 888-501-9299 for a free initial consultation.

Criminal Penalties for Drug Convictions in Texas

The scheduled penalties depend on the type of drug, the specific amount, aggravating factors, and prior convictions. For example, possessing a small amount of marijuana is a class B misdemeanor, but more than four ounces is a state jail felony. Evidence of dealing, selling or trafficking also raises the stakes. You can be charged with possession with intent to distribute based purely on a certain quantity.

Our drug crime attorney can determine the range of penalties you face for your specific case. Below is a simplified thumbnail for different drugs:


  • Less than 2 ounces — class B misdemeanor
  • 2 to 4 ounces — class A misdemeanor
  • 4 ounces to 5 pounds — state jail felony
  • More than 5 pounds — major felony

Group 1 and 2 drugs (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and Ecstasy)

  • Less than 1 gram — state jail felony
  • 1 to 4 grams — third-degree felony
  • 4 to 200 grams — second-degree felony
  • Over 200 grams — first-degree felony
  • Over 400 grams — enhanced felony punishable by 10 years to life

Group 3 drugs (Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, hydrocodone)

  • Less than 28 grams — class A misdemeanor
  • 28 to 200 grams — third-degree felony
  • 200 grams to 400 — second-degree felony
  • 400 grams or more — first-degree felony

Even these specific amounts are subject to interpretation that could increase the punishment. Cocaine that is cut with other substances or hidden inside a bag of flour might be prosecuted purely by weight of the seized package — translating to years in prison for less than a gram of the actual drug.

Drug Crime Sentencing and Collateral Consequences

Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $2,000. Class A misdemeanors carry up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $4,000. State jail felonies require minimum prison time of 180 days, up to two years, and fines up to $4,000. A third-degree drug felony carries 2 to 10 years in prison, a second-degree felony 2 to 20 years and a first-degree felony 5 to 99 years.

Our role is to avoid a conviction through dismissal of charges or acquittal at trial, or to negotiate with the district attorney for a reduction in the charges, or alternative punishments or minimal penalties. In state court, jail terms can sometimes be suspended in exchange for probation or community services. Other clients may qualify for drug treatment and other diversionary programs to stay out of jail and avoid a drug conviction on one's record.

Kurt Gransee has over 20 years of experience in criminal law, including service as a prosecutor in Bexar County.

Contact our San Antonio firm for a free consultation if you are facing state prosecution or even federal drug charges.