A conviction for marijuana offenses in Dallas can result in serious penalties and repercussions. Although this substance is widely used throughout Texas as a recreational drug, marijuana (also known as pot, weed, bud, hydro, ganja, cannabis, chronic, or marihuana) can result in a jail or prison sentence, steep fines, a driver’s license suspension and/or a criminal record.
If you have been charged with marijuana offenses in Dallas, it is important to remember that you will not necessarily be convicted of an offense. The prosecution is required to prove you committed every element of the marijuana offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This is very difficult to the burden, and any doubt in the mind of the jury or judge can result in a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you. Therefore, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Dallas to help you create your best legal defense.
Marijuana Offenses Defense Lawyer in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, TX
If you have been charged with any Marijuana Offenses, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Marijuana Definition in Texas
According to the Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.002, marijuana or marihuana is defined as:
- The Cannabis plant,
- Seeds from the Cannabis plant,
- Any compound of the Cannabis plant or its seeds,
- Any derivative of the Cannabis plant or its seeds,
- Any salt from the Cannabis plant or its seeds,
- Any mixture of the Cannabis plant or its seeds and/or
- Any preparation of the Cannabis plant or its seeds.
This does not include sterilized seeds incapable of germination, resin from the Cannabis plant, any mature stalks of the plant, or any oil or cake made from the seeds or mature stalks of the Cannabis plant.
Marijuana Offenses in Dallas
The Texas Controlled Substances Act (Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code) defines the criminal offenses and penalties associated with marijuana use. A few of the most commonly charged Marijuana Offenses in Dallas are listed below.
An individual can be charged with possession of marihuana under the Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.121 if they knowingly or intentionally possess a usable amount of marijuana. Depending on the amount of marijuana in the individual’s possession, this offense is punishable as a Class B or A misdemeanor, state jail felony, felony of the third or second degree, or life felony, depending on the amount of marijuana in the individual’s possession.
According to the Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.121, an individual can be charged with marijuana cultivation if they cultivate or grow marijuana plants under Texas’ marijuana possession statute. The penalties for certain plant amounts are as follows:
- 2 ounces or less – Class B misdemeanor
- More than two ounces, but less than four ounces – Class A misdemeanor
- More than four ounces, but less than five pounds – State jail felony
- More than five pounds, but less than 50 pounds – Felony of the third degree
- More than 50 pounds, but less than 2,000 pounds – Felony of the second degree
- More than 2,000 pounds – Life felony
Additionally, anyone who plants, cultivates, or harvests marijuana or cannabis plants in Texas is subject to forfeiture of the plants, and law enforcement will seize the plants under the Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.152.
As defined in the Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.120, an individual can be charged with marijuana trafficking if they knowingly or intentionally actually or constructively transfer marijuana to another person in the following amounts:
- ¼ ounce or less without receiving payment (i.e. a gift) – Class B misdemeanor
- ¼ ounce or less with payment (i.e. sale) – Class A misdemeanor
- More than ¼ ounce, but less than five pounds – State jail felony
- More than five pounds, but less than 50 pounds – Felony of the second degree
- More than 50 pounds, but less than 2,000 pounds – Felony of the first degree
- More than 2,000 pounds – Life felony
An individual can be charged with marijuana distribution or delivery under the Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.120 if they knowingly or intentionally deliver marijuana. This offense is punishable as a Class B or A misdemeanor, state jail felony, felony of the second or first degree, or life felony depending on the amount of marijuana delivered and whether the alleged offender received payment for the marijuana.
According to the Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.122, an individual can be charged with the delivery of marijuana to a child if they knowingly deliver, sell or distribute marijuana to a child or to an individual who is enrolled in a primary or secondary school. This offense is punishable as a felony of the second degree.
Dallas Penalties for Marijuana Offenses
The basic statutory penalties for marijuana offenses are defined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code. However, these punishments can increase depending on the amount of marijuana, whether the alleged offender received payment for the offense, whether a child was present during the commission of the offense, whether the alleged offender has a previous criminal history and whether the alleged offender used a weapon during the offense.
- A marijuana offense that is a Class B misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000
- A marijuana offense that is classified as a Class A misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine of not more than $4,000.
- A state jail felony marijuana offense can result in a jail sentence from 180 days to two years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the marijuana offense is a felony of the third degree, the alleged offender can be sentenced to a prison sentence of two to ten years and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
- A felony of second-degree marijuana offense can result in a prison sentence of two to 20 years and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.
- A marijuana offense that is a felony of the first degree can result in a prison sentence from five years to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- Marijuana possession offenses that are life felonies can result in a prison sentence from five years to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000.
- Marijuana trafficking offenses that are life felonies can result in a prison sentence from ten years to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $100,000.
Texas Medical Marijuana Laws
Medical marijuana is not currently legal in Texas or under federal law, although 16 states and Washington D.C. have decriminalized the use of medicinal marijuana. However, many health organizations, doctors, and scientists agree there are medicinal benefits to marijuana and patients should be able to legally access marijuana under the supervision of a treating doctor.
Marijuana has been proven to provide relief for many individuals suffering from certain illnesses and ailments. Medical marijuana has proven to be a beneficial treatment and therapeutic for Crohn’s Disease, arthritis, cancer, AIDS, movement or muscle disorders, and glaucoma.
Recently, a federal bill has been proposed, HR 2306, which would end the federal government’s regulation of marijuana and give each state the option to decriminalize marijuana, legalize medicinal marijuana or prohibit the use of marijuana.
DIVERT Program in Dallas
DIVERT or Diversion and Expedited Rehabilitation and Treatment is a Dallas County drug program for felony offenders who are otherwise eligible for pre-trial release that has been charged with possession of marijuana in an amount of more than four ounces, but less than five pounds.
Marijuana offenders who have a previous criminal conviction or have a history of engaging in violent behavior are not eligible for the DIVERT program.
The program is generally 12 to 18 months long and generally consists of three phases, including an orientation and stabilization phase, an intensive treatment phase, and a transition and graduation phase. The program involves substance abuse education and treatment and participation in education and employment services.
An individual who successfully completes the program will have their criminal charges dismissed; however, an individual who fails to complete the program will be criminally prosecuted for their marijuana charges.
Dallas Marijuana Resources
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) – NORML is a national organization that seeks to repeal marijuana prohibition so responsible adult usage of marijuana is no longer a criminal act.
DFW NORML website – The Dallas area NORML chapter is dedicated to educating Texas legislators and residents about marijuana truth, lies and myths.
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy – A coalition of organizations committed to promoting honest, fact-based information about marijuana use and the negative impact of criminalization, removing penalties for responsible adult use of marijuana, and allowing ill patients to safely obtain marijuana for medical purposes.
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) – The MPP is a national organization that aims to increase public support for marijuana policies in order to change state laws to alleviate or eradicate penalties for both medical and non-medical use of marijuana.
MPP – Texas Website – This website contains information about Texas’s marijuana laws and issues, in addition to recent marijuana legislation in Texas.
Texas Health and Safety Code – Marijuana Offenses – The Texas Controlled Substances Act (Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code) lists various offenses associated with marijuana, such as marijuana possession, marijuana trafficking, and marijuana cultivation, and the penalties an individual could face if they are convicted of a marijuana crime.
Office of National Drug Control Policy – The ONDCP is a governmental drug agency that provides miscellaneous information on marijuana, including alternative names for the substance, uses of marijuana, various types of marijuana, and the federal offenses and penalties for marijuana crimes.
Find A Dallas County Defense Attorney for Marijuana Crimes Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Common Marijuana FAQ
Yes, marijuana remains illegal in Texas, although a law legalizing hemp in 2019 led to marijuana prosecutions in Texas plummeting by more than half in the six months after the law was enacted. While many police departments lack the equipment needed to determine the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in alleged marijuana to distinguish it from hemp, it remains likely that law enforcement will continue to arrest individuals for alleged marijuana possession offenses.
The possible disciplinary measures of a court in a marijuana case will depend on multiple factors, largely the amount of marijuana that was allegedly possessed. A person’s prior criminal record could also impact penalties in marijuana cases. In general, the most common kinds of penalties are usually fines and imprisonment, but additional penalties could include driver’s license suspensions and other punishments.
Police officers can arrest individuals who they believe were in knowing possession of marijuana, and possession may be actual or constructive. Actual possession is when marijuana is found on the person of an individual, whether it is in their pocket or their hands. Constructive possession means that a person could be accused of possession when marijuana is found in an area accessible to multiple people.
The record of the arrest could be public and be available to many people who perform background checks. While an arrest is not the same as a conviction, it can still appear on a criminal record and have possible negative complications for employment applications or college-related efforts.
Many marijuana cases are thrown out when police officers violate the rights of alleged offenders in their encounters with them. An unlawful search and seizure is one of the most common defenses against any drug charge because when police seize evidence unlawfully, it is prohibited from being used as evidence by a prosecutor and they are subsequently left without anything to pursue a case with.
A lawyer is immediately going to be able to conduct their own investigation into the arrest and determine the strongest possible defenses in your case. The attorney will know what kinds of evidence to seek out and how to use certain elements to your advantage. When you have a lawyer, they will also be more comfortable negotiating with a prosecutor to achieve a reduction in or dismissal of criminal charges.
A prosecutor must prove your guilt for any marijuana crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an exceptionally high bar to satisfy. You can achieve a not guilty verdict by simply giving a jury enough reason to doubt any element of a prosecutor’s case. An acquittal can be achieved through a dedicated effort to attack every element of the case against you.
Community service is one of the most common kinds of punishments for alleged offenders instead of prison sentences. It is also possible that a person could be sentenced to a term of probation in which they have to check in regularly with a probation officer. Court-ordered participation in a drug treatment program could also be possible in some cases.
Your employment situation will depend on how aggressively your employer enforces drug convictions. Some employers may have no tolerance for these kinds of issues and could terminate you just for an arrest, but other employers may not conduct any kind of background check needed to uncover the violation.
The answer will again depend on the school, as some colleges vigorously enforce their codes of conduct while others are far more lenient. Suspensions and expulsions are possible in some cases.