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Cocaine and Crack Cocaine Charges

The State of Texas and the federal government levy serious penalties on possession and distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine. Possession of less than one gram of cocaine or crack cocaine is a felony in Texas. At the federal level, trafficking or distribution charges carry years-long prison sentences. If you have been charged or believe you are under investigation for state or federal cocaine offenses, speak with an attorney today.

There are overlapping jurisdictions with regards to possession and distribution, but the federal government typically handles cases in which the defendant possesses drugs on federal land or a federal building, is crossing state or international borders, or if the defendant is believed to be part of a larger distribution conspiracy.

Dallas Cocaine Defense Lawyer

If you have drug charges against you for cocaine or crack cocaine, or suspect you are under investigation, call Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today. Attorney Richard McConathy has extensive experience with thousands of previous cases.


Overview of Cocaine Charges


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Texas Cocaine Offenses – § 481.115 Possession of Cocaine or Crack Cocaine

Cocaine is classified in Penalty Group 1 in Texas. Knowingly possessing cocaine or crack cocaine, even a trace amount, is punishable by a felony with at least 180 days in jail. The penalties increase in seriousness as the possession amount increases. The state, with certain evidence like large amounts of cash or paraphernalia, may instead seek a charge for possession with intent to distribute.

Amount

Sentence

Punishment

<1 gram

State Jail Felony

180-1 year jail; up to $10,000 fine

1-4 grams

Third Degree Felony

2-10 years prison; up to $10,000 fine

4-200 grams

Second Degree Felony

2-20 years prison; up to $10,000 fine

200-400 grams

First Degree Felony

5-99 years prison; up t0 $10,000 fine

>400 grams

 

10-99 years prison; up to $100,000 fine


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Texas Cocaine Offenses – § 481.112 Manufacture or Delivery of Cocaine

Having paraphernalia, such as a scale, or possessing a large amount of a controlled substance can lead the prosecution to charge you with the offense of distribution or possession with intent to distribute.

As there is a greater burden of proof to show you had an intention to distribute or were allegedly caught in the act of selling cocaine or crack cocaine, a competent lawyer will challenge every detail of the prosecution’s assumptions. Additionally, if searches or investigatory procedures fall out of bounds of your Fourth Amendment rights, your lawyer can suppress the evidence to keep it out of the courtroom.

Factors that can be brought up by the prosecution in a cocaine distribution case include:

  • Amount of cocaine or crack cocaine in allegedly in your possession
  • Large sums of cash
  • Method of packaging of the cocaine, such as in multiple small bags
  • Scales or other drug paraphernalia

The prosecution must prove your intent to distribute beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Don’t let them take control of the account either in plea-bargaining or during a trial. Hire a lawyer with experience in these serious cases.

Amount

Sentence

Punishment

<1 gram

State Jail Felony

180-1 year jail; up to $10,000 fine

1-4 grams

Second Degree Felony

2-20 years prison; up to $10,000 fine

4-200 grams

First Degree Felony

5-99 years prison; up to $10,000 fine

200-400 grams

 

10-99 years prison; up to $100,000 fine

>400 grams

 

15-99 years prison; up to $250,000 fine

Within the Texas Penal Code § 481.122, if a controlled substance is knowingly delivered to a minor or high school or younger student, the charge for delivery of any amount is a second degree felony. The sentence ranges from two to twenty years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.

If the manufacture of cocaine or crack cocaine takes place in the presence of a minor under the age of 18, the penalties jump one degree and the mandatory minimums are increased. (Texas Penal Code § 481.1122)


Amount

Sentence

Increased Punishment

<1 gram

Second Degree Felony

2-20 years prison; up to $10,000 fine

1-200 grams

First Degree Felony

5-99 years prison; up to $10,000 fine

200-400 grams

 

15-99 years prison; up to $150,000 fine

>400 grams

 

20-99 years prison; up to $300,000 fine


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Texas Cocaine Offenses – § 481.125 Possession or Delivery of Drug Paraphernalia

Paraphernalia is anything that is used to package, conceal, or ingest an illegal drug. Examples include small plastic bags, scales, and glass or metal pipes.

Simple possession of paraphernalia can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500. Delivery, possession with intent to deliver, or manufacture with intent to deliver paraphernalia is Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a fine up to $4,000, unless there is a prior conviction of the same offense, in which case a minimum of 90 days imprisonment is imposed.

Similarly to delivery of cocaine, if the delivery of paraphernalia takes place between an adult seller (over 18) to a minor buyer (under 18), the charges are increased. A state jail felony imposes a minimum 180 days and up to one year in jail in addition to up to $10,000 in fines.


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Texas Cocaine Offenses – § 481.141 Manufacture or Delivery of Controlled Substance Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury

Delivery of cocaine or crack cocaine that results in a person’s death or serious injury, in addition to an underlying manufacture or delivery charge, can increase the penalty by one degree up to a first degree felony. The jury or judge must be swayed beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect’s delivery of cocaine or crack cocaine played a role in the death or injury, regardless of what other substances may have been ingested by the user.


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Texas Cocaine Offenses – § 481.134 Drug-Free Zones

Drug-free zones include a number of public and private spaces where there are likely to be children. If it is found that any of various drug-related offenses were committed within certain bounds of these drug-free zones, sentences and penalties can be increased. Drug-free zones include:

  • Institutions of higher learning
  • Public or private youth centers
  • Playgrounds
  • Public swimming pools
  • Video arcade facilities
  • School bus
  • Property leased by the school board

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Federal Cocaine Charges

The federal government will target for search and investigation those individuals or groups it believes to be involved in the distribution of illegal drugs, for example those that cross international or state borders, are in possession of large quantities of cocaine, or may provide a connection to a larger scale organized crime group. Federal cases have harsh penalties stemming from rigid sentencing guidelines in addition to the absence of parole.

The federal government views crack cocaine separately from pure powder cocaine. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 imposed mandatory minimums for drug offenses on federal judges across the country. Crack cocaine was seen as much more addictive than cocaine and was punished more harshly for smaller quantities. Since that time, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 changed the ratio of disparity between crack and cocaine amounts from 100:1 to 18:1.

Simple Possession of Cocaine or Crack Cocaine

21 U.S. Code § 844

It is illegal to knowingly possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription from a doctor. The federal government may seek to prosecute you for possession of cocaine or crack cocaine, but be aware they may instead attempt to prove possession with intent to distribute, which is described further in the next section.

A first conviction for criminal possession of cocaine or crack cocaine is punishable by a prison term of up to one year and/or a minimum fine of $1,000.

A prior conviction for a drug offense, whether federal or state, will increase the penalty to not less than 15 days but not more than two years in prison and a fine of minimum $2,500.

Two prior convictions for a drug offense will carry minimum 90 days and up to three years jail time and a fine of at least $5,000.

In addition to the fines laid out, the government may seek to fine the defendant, if convicted, of the costs of prosecution and investigation, with the court taking into account the defendant’s ability to pay.

Manufacture, Distribution, or Possession with Intent to Manufacture or Distribute Cocaine or Crack Cocaine

The manufacture, distribution, trafficking across state or international borders, or possession with the intent to distribute cocaine or crack cocaine mixtures is punishable under 21 U.S. Code § 841. The federal government has penalties ranging up to life imprisonment and millions of dollars in fines. It is important to have an attorney that is adept at managing a lengthy and challenging federal case.

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute less than 500 grams of cocaine or less than 28 grams of crack cocaine is punishable with a maximum term of 20 years in federal prison. At least three years of supervised probation will follow any prison term. Fines can range up to $1,000,000 for individuals or $5,000,000 for those other than an individual.

If the illegal substance in question resulted in the serious bodily injury or death of another individual, the prison term extends to a minimum 20 years and maximum of life imprisonment.

A previous felony drug conviction will factor in to increase the prison term to a maximum of 30 years in prison with at least six years of supervised probation following release. Fines can range up to $2,000,000 for individuals or $10,000,000 for those other than an individual.

If there is a previous felony and the illegal substance in questions resulted in the serious bodily injury or death of another individual, the sentence is life imprisonment.

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute between 500-4999 grams of cocaine or between 28-280 grams of crack cocaine is punishable with a minimum five years in federal prison and a maximum term of 40 years. At least four years of supervised probation will follow any prison term. Fines can range up to $5,000,000 for individuals or $25,000,000 for those other than an individual.

If the illegal substance in question resulted in the serious bodily injury or death of another individual, the prison term extends to a minimum 20 years and maximum of life imprisonment.

A previous felony drug conviction will factor in to increase the prison term to a minimum 10 years and maximum of life imprisonment with at least eight years of supervised probation following release. Fines can range up to $8,000,000 for individuals or $50,000,000 for those other than an individual.

If there is a previous felony and the illegal substance in questions resulted in the serious bodily injury or death of another individual, the sentence is life imprisonment.

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine or more than 280 grams of crack cocaine is punishable with a minimum 10 years in federal prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment. At least five years of supervised probation will follow any prison term. Fines can range up to $10,000,000 for individuals or $50,000,000 for those other than an individual.

If the illegal substance in question resulted in the serious bodily injury or death of another individual, the prison term extends to a minimum 20 years and maximum of life imprisonment. Fines can range up to $20,000,000 for individuals or $75,000,000 for those other than an individual.

A previous felony drug conviction will factor in to increase the prison term to a minimum 20 years and maximum of life imprisonment with at least 10 years of supervised probation following release. If there are two or more felony drug convictions in addition to a new charge under this section, the sentence will be life imprisonment.

If there is a previous felony and the illegal substance in questions resulted in the serious bodily injury or death of another individual, the sentence is life imprisonment.

Attempt and Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine

The federal government will target those it believes to be involved in furthering a cocaine conspiracy, regardless of how small the role played, in order to obtain evidence against higher-level conspirators. Any person found to be a conspirator in a plan to distribute or manufacture cocaine will be penalized identically to those charged directly with distribution or manufacture of cocaine.


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Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer for Cocaine Possession and Distribution in Dallas

Cocaine offenses can bring about major consequences such as expensive fines and years or even decades of prison time. If you have been arrested or suspect you are the subject of an investigation, contact an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney today.

Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can provide counsel with your case, whether with the State of Texas or U.S. government. Call us today at (972) 233-5700 for a free consultation to begin a review of your case.

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