What Happens When I Plead Guilty to a Drug Charge in Texas?
June 5th, 2017 by Tad Nelson in Drug Crime
Drug charges often carry significant penalties in Texas. For example, possession of more than 400 grams of methamphetamine is a first-degree felony under the Texas Penal Code, punishable by a prison term of up to 99 years. This is why if you are charged with possession of any amount illegal drugs, it is important to stand up for your rights in court.
Court Rejects New Trial After Drug Evidence Was Suppressed
If you do not assert your rights at trial, you may forfeit them altogether. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently drove this point home in rejecting a defendant’s request for a new trial. She originally entered a guilty plea and accepted a 25-year sentence after police found more than 400 grams of methamphetamine in a van that she was passenger in.
But her co-defendant–the driver of the van–decided to go to trial. He challenged the legality of the initial traffic stop that led to the police discovering the drugs. He introduced a video recording of the traffic stop, which showed the defendant had not broken any traffic laws. The judge agreed the stop was unlawful, and therefore all of the evidence discovered by the police had to be suppressed.
After this decision came down the woman, having already pleaded guilty, asked the judge for a new trial, citing the “new evidence” of her co-defendant’s successful suppression motion. The judge agreed to grant a new trial, but the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed, noting the ruling itself was not evidence, but rather “a legal determination.”
More to the point, the appeals court said the woman could have pleaded not guilty and filed her own motion to suppress. She also could have cross-examined the arresting officer and challenged the other evidence against her. She failed to do so, the appeals court said, so her failure to discover the unlawful traffic stop was “due to her lack of diligence.” While some of the appeals judges expressed “sympathy” for the woman’s situation, the majority still felt it did not justify granting her a new trial.
Have You Been Charged With a Drug Crime?
The harsh truth is that accepting a guilty plea means waiving certain constitutional rights. You should never agree to plead guilty to a drug charge or any other serious felony without the assistance of an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today in Galveston, League City, or Houston if you have been charged with a drug crime and require immediate assistance.