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What are Drug Crimes in San Antonio, Texas?

Drug crimes in San Antonio, Texas, involve activities such as possessing, producing, or supplying drugs with the potential for abuse. The Texas Controlled Substances Act defines the offenses for illicit substances. Individuals can be charged with a variety of drug-related offenses, including:

  • Possession. A defendant is charged with this crime if the prosecutor has probable cause to believe that the defendant possessed or had control over an unlawful drug.
  • Trafficking. This is the allegation that the defendant intentionally provided a restricted drug to another person. 
  • Importation. Most individuals facing importation charges are suspected of smuggling modest amounts of drugs for personal use. The crime may also be charged if the offense entails substantial volumes of drugs being transported across national boundaries.
  • Sale is a drug charge levied by the prosecution if they can establish that a defendant intentionally sold prohibited substances. The penalties for selling drugs might be harsh depending on the restricted substance and quantity sold.
  • Manufacturing. This crime constitutes the production, propagation, preparation, or processing of an illegal drug or substance. This category may also include rebranding and repackaging of drugs. 

It is vital to understand that drug crimes are either prosecuted by the state or the federal government. State and federal drug laws are extremely similar, with only small differences in some cases. Several factors influence whether a drug case will be tried in state or federal court, including:

  • The officials that made the arrest: A vast majority of drug-related arrests are made by state or local law enforcement agencies. But, if federal officials apprehend the accused offender, there is a significant probability that the individual will be charged with a federal crime and tried in federal court.
  • The quantity of drugs found: Federal prosecutors prefer to prosecute larger quantities of drugs.
  • The criminal crossed state boundaries: If an offender crosses state lines while committing drug crime(s), the individual will be charged by federal authorities. Typically, criminal accusations involving interstate trade are normally heard in federal court. Hence, if the charge is related to a large-scale criminal operation that spans numerous states, the perpetrator may potentially face federal charges.
  • The criminal was apprehended on government property: A federal offense would be punished in a federal court if the criminal was apprehended with even a trace amount of banned substances on government premises.

Regardless, the majority of drug cases are handled in state court. The rules governing the prosecution and punishment of drug crimes in San Antonio are governed by the Texas Health and Safety Code and the Texas Penal Code.

What are the Penalties for Drug Crimes in San Antonio, Texas?

Penalties for drug crimes in San Antonio vary according to the type of substance involved, the quantity of the substance, how the drug was kept or disguised, previous convictions, and if the offender planned to sell the substance. 

Anyone charged with a drug violation in the San Antonio region risks incarceration, large fines, and having a criminal conviction on their record. In some cases where the offender is a non-citizen, a drug conviction will have an impact on their immigration status. The convicted individual will face deportation and ineligibility for citizenship. 

For punishment purposes, Texas law divides banned drugs into four penalty categories and two sub-penalty categories. Sections 481.102 through 481.105 of the Texas Health and Safety Code identify these punishment classes and the restricted drugs associated with them.

Penalty group 1 drugs are those that are most likely to induce abuse and addiction and have no acknowledged medicinal purpose. In contrast, Penalty groups 1A, 2, 2A, 3, and 4 comprise prohibited chemicals and compounds that are less harmful and less likely to be abused. Controlled drugs in these lower classes have also gained more acceptance for medical uses. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Penalty Group 1: Cocaine and heroin
  • Penalty Group 1-A: Lysergic acid and LSD
  • Penalty Group 2: Mushrooms and Psilocybin
  • Penalty Group 3: Anabolic steroids and Xanax,
  • Penalty Group 4: Compounds containing trace quantities of codeine or opium.

Penalties upon conviction 

On determining the type and quantity of drugs found in an offender’s possession, the offense might be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalties are then imposed based on the degree and categorization of the charge. Among these classifications are:

  • Class B misdemeanor: Crimes charged in this category are penalized by up to 180 days in prison and/or a $2,000 fine. Some drug crimes deemed class B misdemeanors include:
    • Delivery of ¼ ounce or less of marijuana without collecting payment
    • Possession of 2 ounces or less of a restricted drug classified as Penalty Group 2-A
    • Possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana.
  • State jail felony: Crimes charged in this category are punishable by up to two years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. Examples of offenses charged in this category include:
    • Manufacturing or delivering less than one gram of restricted substance in Penalty Group 1 
    • Manufacturing or delivering fewer than 20 abuse units of a Penalty Group 1-A restricted drug
    • Delivery of marijuana weighing less than 5 pounds yet weighing more than 1/4 ounces.
  • Third-degree felony: Crimes charged as third-degree felonies are penalized by 2 to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. This category includes the following offenses:
    • Possession of a Penalty Group 1 restricted drug weighing 1 gram or more but less than 4 grams
    • Possession of 20 or more but fewer than 80 abuse units of a restricted drug classified as penalty Group 1-A
    • Possession of marijuana weighing 50 pounds or less but weighing more than 5 pounds.
  • Second-degree felony: Crimes charged as second-degree felonies are punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Among the offenses charged in this category are:
    • Manufacturing or distribution of a Penalty Group 1 restricted drug weighing 1 gram or more but less than 4 grams
    • Possession of marijuana weighing less than 2,000 pounds yet weighing more than 50 pounds
    • Manufacture or distribution of at least 20 but no more than 80 abuse units of a Penalty Group 1-A restricted drug.
  • First-Degree Felony: Crimes in this classification are punished by 5 to 99 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Among the offenses charged in this category are:
    • Manufacture or distribution of a Penalty Group 1-A restricted drug in quantities of 80 or more but less than 4,000 abuse units
    • Manufacture or delivery of a Penalty Group 2 or 2-A restricted drug weighing 4 grams or more but less than 400 grams
    • Delivery of marijuana weighing less than 2,000 pounds yet weighing more than 50 pounds.

San Antonio is one of Texas's largest and most populated cities. Because it is a large metropolis, it has economic and transportation infrastructure that helps it establish an atmosphere suitable for the trafficking and distribution of illegal substances.

According to reports from the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), local law enforcement agencies in San Antonio maintain that cocaine traffickers commit the biggest percentage of drug-related crimes. They also report that methamphetamine users commit a flurry of property crimes throughout the city. Property crimes, such as domestic burglaries, are commonly committed by methamphetamine addicts in order to obtain money or things that can be sold or traded for methamphetamine.

According to the Uniform Crime Reports, the San Antonio Police Department in 2021 recorded a total of 8 825 violent crimes and 48,672 property crimes.  Drug distribution and abuse are big contributors to increased crime rates in San Antonio, the county seat of Bexar County. This is because drug addicts commit numerous crimes to pay for their illicit drugs, and many criminals are usually under the influence of drugs while committing violent and property crimes.

San Antonio, Texas Drug Crime Lawyer

A professional and experienced San Antonio drug crime defense lawyer can assist a defendant in fighting drug crime charges. The attorney can utilize their knowledge, skills, and resources to: 

  • Access and evaluate all evidence acquired by law enforcement and prosecutors
  • Examine all search and seizure processes employed in the case to verify that the evidence is legal
  • Communicate with prosecutors to evaluate the potential of reduced charges or a fair plea bargain.

Overall, hiring a San Antonio drug criminal defense lawyer ensures that a person does not confront these allegations and associated punishments alone.

How to Beat Drug Crime Charges in San Antonio, Texas

Beating a drug crime charge in San Antonio entails having the charges dropped or significantly reduced. In general, an attorney will carefully evaluate the facts and evidence in the case to decide whether or not charges may be defeated and how best to do so.

Possible defenses to a drug crime charge in San Antonio include:

  • Duress: A defense attorney might assert this claim if a defendant was coerced into doing the alleged offense by the prospect of harm to them or their families.
  • Valid prescription: This defense works best if the drug possession charges are the result of a miscommunication. A person cannot be convicted of possession if they can show a legitimate prescription or license to possess a restricted drug.
  • Constitutional grounds: Regardless of the offense charged, a defendant is protected by a handful of constitutional rights. If the police breach such rights, the evidence they gathered may be excluded from the trial. In certain situations, the charges may be completely dropped. Such violations often involve arrest procedural violations, unlawful search and seizure, Miranda rights violations, and issues with evidence gathering and preservation.
  • Exemptions: Texas law provides for a variety of exemptions on the possession of illicit substances. These exemptions generally apply to individuals in law enforcement, research, and education. If such exemptions apply in the defendant's instance, the charge may be dismissed.