A first-offense felony drug charge is a life-altering experience, particularly in Texas, where drug laws are strict and associated punishments are severe. If you or a loved one is facing a felony drug charge for a first offense, you likely have a lot of questions…questions like “Do first-time drug offenders go to jail?” Or “Is there a way to lessen the penalties for a felony drug charge?” Read on for answers to these questions.
First-Offense Felony Drug Charges in Texas
The State of Texas takes a tough stance when it comes to drug offenses; there are significant penalties for individuals convicted of drug crimes. If you are convicted of a drug crime in Texas, the punishments can range from a Class B misdemeanor to a first-degree felony depending on the circumstances. Under State law, felony drug charges are the more serious type of charges.
Felony drug charges are categorized by degrees, depending on the type and amount of illicit drugs involved. For a first offense in Texas, the classification typically falls into either a state jail felony, third-degree felony, or second-degree felony. The penalties vary accordingly, ranging from potential jail time to hefty fines.
Consequences of a First Offense Felony Drug Charge
There are serious consequences for felony drug charges, even if convicted for a first offense. One possible consequence is lengthy jail time. For state jail felonies, the sentence can range from 180 days to two years, while for third-degree felonies it can range from two to ten years. Second-degree drug felonies may carry a sentence of between two and twenty years in prison. The Court decides on the length of jail time based on the specific circumstances of each case.
Jail time is not the only consequence for first-offense felony drug convictions in Texas; substantial financial penalties can also be levied. And beyond these immediate legal consequences, a felony drug conviction can have other far-reaching effects such as restricting educational and employment opportunities, limiting housing prospects, and hindering one’s ability to obtain loans or government assistance. Further, convicted felons in Texas may lose certain civil rights, such as the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, or possess firearms.
How to Beat a Felony Drug Charge
The first thing to understand about how to beat a felony drug charge in Texas is to speak to police officers after an arrest ONLY with a lawyer present. This will help mitigate the chance that you incriminate yourself. And when you do interact with law enforcement officials, remember to be respectful and cooperative so as not to hurt your case, and keep in mind your right to remain silent until speaking with a lawyer.
Your lawyer will be able to help you understand your options after speaking with you and reviewing the circumstances of your case. He will be able to explain that Texas offers various diversionary programs and alternatives to jail time for some first-time offenders. He also will share information regarding expungement and nondisclosure processes that could be applied if you are ineligible for a diversionary program.
To make a plan to put felony drug charges behind you, it is critical to speak with a reputable and experienced criminal defense attorney for guidance. In Austin, Texas, or the surrounding area, having a professional criminal defense attorney on your side like board-certified attorney Brian Erskine of Erskine Law is vital. Mr. Erskine knows the law and is ready and willing to review your case and offer guidance. Contact Erskine Law to schedule your free consultation today.