Houston Drug Trafficking Attorney
Texas–and specifically the Houston area–is a major battleground in the War on Drugs. Each day, millions of dollars worth of illegal controlled substances cross the border from Mexico into Texas, and from there to other parts of the United States. Some of the more common imported drugs include marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. All of these drugs are highly addictive–and highly illegal.
Given its interstate and international scope, drug trafficking is understandably a major federal law enforcement priority. This means that while a person caught with a marijuana joint may face only misdemeanor charges at the state level, trafficking in larger quantities of more dangerous substances is prosecuted as a federal crime. Drug trafficking encompasses much more than street-level dealing: anyone caught transporting, smuggling, importing, or possessing drugs intended for sale can be arrested, charged, convicted, and sent to prison.
If you find yourself caught up in a federal or local drug trafficking bust, you must take immediate action to protect your legal rights. Never speak to law enforcement before contacting a qualified Houston drug trafficking attorney. At the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we can help you with any type of federal or state drug-related charge. Attorney Tad Nelson and his team have fought–and won–many drug cases for clients in both state and federal court. And in many situations, we can assist you in negotiating a plea for a lesser offense that may keep you out of jail.
What Are the Penalties for Federal Drug Trafficking?
The federal Controlled Substances Act classifies various drugs into five schedules. At the highest level are Schedule I drugs–substances deemed so addictive and harmful that they have no legitimate medical use. Schedule I drugs include Fentanyl Analogue, heroin, and LSD.
At the next level are Schedule II drugs, which have some accepted medical use but are highly restricted–i.e., available only through a doctor’s prescription–because of their highly addictive nature. Schedule II includes Fentanyl, cocaine and its derivatives, Methamphetamine, and PCP.
A first offense for drug trafficking involving any Schedule I or Schedule II drug is prosecuted as a felony. If convicted of a first offense involving the drugs mentioned above, you face a minimum federal prison sentence of 5 years, with a maximum penalty of 40 years. (Depending on the actual amount of drugs involved, this sentencing range may increase to 10 years to life.) You can also be ordered to pay a fine of up to $5 million (or $10 million, again depending on the quantity of drugs involved).
In addition, if the alleged drug trafficking activity caused “death or serious bodily injury” to another person, the mandatory minimum prison term jumps from 5 years to 20 years. And for any second drug trafficking conviction, you may be sentenced to life in prison.
What About Marijuana?
Federal drug trafficking laws also apply to marijuana. Keep in mind, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Despite the fact many states–though not Texas–now permit residents to possess and use small amounts of marijuana for medicinal purposes, as far as the federal government is concerned, there is no legitimate reason to possess or traffic in the drug or any of its derivatives, including hashish and hashish oil.
In theory, if you are caught with even a single marijuana plant, you could be imprisoned for 5 years and fined $250,000 under federal law. And if that sounds harsh, consider possession of 50 marijuana plants carries the possibility of 20 years in prison. The penalties escalate to life in prison for persons convicted of trafficking 1,000 or more marijuana plants.
Do Not Panic, Call a Houston Drug Trafficking Lawyer
In any criminal drug trafficking case, the constitutional burden is on the prosecutor to prove beyond a “reasonable doubt” that you intentionally possessed a certain amount of controlled substances. The government does not need to show that you were in the actual act of selling or dealing the drugs, only that you knowingly possessed them.
But this is often not as simple as you might think. For instance, you may have genuinely had no knowledge there were illegal drugs in your vehicle or home. The police may have also recovered the alleged drugs through an unconstitutional or illegal search, in which case the prosecutor cannot use that evidence in court. This is where having an experienced Houston drug trafficking case on your side is critical–we know how to find the flaws in the prosecution’s case, and expose them in open court if necessary.
A drug trafficking charge can have devastating consequences for you and your family. The prospect of decades–or life–in prison can fill you with a sense of dread. But there is no need to panic. Instead, you need to pick up the phone and call the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 280-0100 We have offices in Houston, Galveston, and League City ready to serve you.