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Felonies

Drug Possession Penalties: Does the Substance Matter?

Drug Possession Penalties: Does the Substance Matter?

Penalties for a drug possession conviction in Texas are—across the board—more severe than in other states. No matter the substance, you could potentially face steep fines, jail or prison time, a license suspension and even mandatory substance abuse treatment. And the greater the quantity, the greater the penalties.

 

While possession of a controlled substance is a single type of offense in Texas, it does not fall under a single statute under the Texas Health and Safety Code. Rather, the type of substance you were allegedly in possession of will determine—in part—the specific penalties you face. The quantity you possessed is the other primary determining factor.

 

Texas law identifies “penalty groups” of drugs. As the name would suggest, penalty groups influence the penalties for charges involving those drugs. The more serious the drug, the higher the penalties. To illustrate the difference in penalties for possession of a controlled substance, we’ve provided a few examples below.

 

Marijuana

 

You can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor if you possess less than two ounces of marijuana. The penalties include up to 180 days in a county jail, a fine of up to $2,000 or both, a six-month license suspension and probation. These are the minimum penalties for possession of a controlled substance. Possession of marijuana is treated somewhat less severely than possession of other controlled substances. Texans face harsh consequences if convicted, but possession of small amounts of marijuana is sometimes considered a “discretionary” arrest, meaning the officer can choose to cite the offender instead of putting him or her under arrest.

 

Prescription Drugs With Stimulant or Depressant Effects

 

Prescription drugs with the potential for abuse, such as Ritalin and Valium, lie in penalty group three. Possession of fewer than 28 grams of a penalty group three drug is punishable by one year in jail and the potential of a fine up to $4,000.

 

Cocaine

 

Possession of cocaine is a more serious charge, as it lies in penalty group one. Possession of less than one gram can be charged as a state jail felony. You can face up to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000, but first-time offenders may receive probation in lieu of incarceration.

 

 

Substance and Amount: What Matters

 

Depending on the drug you allegedly had in your possession, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. But no matter the substance you are accused of being in possession of, you need to work closely with a seasoned Dallas-Fort Worth drug crime defense attorney when facing charges.

 

Due to the potentially severe consequences, it’s vital you involve an attorney early on in your case to ensure your rights are defended and you have the best chance at clearing your name. The laws on drug possession include a very specific definition of “possession” that the attorney for the state may or may not be able to prove in your case. Speak with an attorney before you make any decisions in your case to ensure you have the best defense possible.

 

If you are facing charges for possession of a controlled substance in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on how to defend your rights. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email team@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

 

What Is a Grand Jury Indictment?

What Is a Grand Jury Indictment?

Filing Felony Charges

 

The process through which criminal charges are filed against a defendant is governed by rules and procedures that ensure efficiency and protect the defendant’s constitutional rights. For felony charges in Texas, this process involves a grand jury indictment.

 

The Grand Jury Indictment Process

 

Unlike misdemeanor charges, which are brought on by an “information” and complaint, felony charges must be brought on by a grand jury indictment, meaning the charge(s) must be brought before a grand jury of 12 jurors, who then submit a vote on the charges.

 

The prosecutor—the attorney for the State—is tasked with persuading the jury that probable cause is established. He or she will typically do this by explaining the law that pertains to the offense to the jurors. The jury can then obtain and review evidence and even question witnesses if it feels it is necessary to come to a vote. The prosecutor must persuade nine out of the 12 jurors. If at least nine vote for the indictment, the prosecutor can continue with filing the charges, which is called a “true bill.” Unless nine jurors are persuaded, the prosecutor cannot go through with the charges, which is called a “no bill.” The indictment itself is a statement written by the jury that accuses the alleged offender of the crime.

 

Indictment Proceedings

 

The grand jury is just one step in the criminal prosecution process. These proceedings are a little less formal than criminal trial proceedings in that they are closed to the public, confidential and exclude the defendant. But, similar to a jury trial, the proceedings and testimony are recorded for the court’s record, and the prosecutor may use information gained in the proceedings for any future criminal trial for the offense in question. The prosecutor must abide by numerous rules and procedures during the grand jury proceedings. But he or she can also disagree with the jury’s decision or its interpretation of the facts and potentially attempt the grand jury indictment process again.

 

Facing Felony Charges? Involve an Attorney Before It’s Too Late

 

A grand jury indictment sounds serious, and it is. Texas felony charges of any nature or degree are severe and can have significant repercussions for the defendant. To ensure a fair and just system, jurors are called upon to review the same evidence the prosecutor has and weigh in on the matter. But a grand jury indictment is not the same as a jury trial. The defendant does not have a right to participate or be involved in the jury proceedings. The good news is an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can step in and potentially influence the case before charges are even filed.

 

If you need help fighting your felony charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action to fight your charges. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email team@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

Texas State Jails or Prisons: Know Where You’ll Go

Texas State Jails or Prisons: Know Where You’ll Go

The three main types of correctional facilities in Texas include county jails, state jails and prisons. You’ll often hear people using the terms jail and prison interchangeable, but, in fact, they are quite different. In Texas, correctional facilities differ in the type of offenders they house. County jails house most misdemeanor offenders, but we’ll focus on state jails and prisons in this post.

 

Texas State Jails and Texas Prisons

 

Texas state jails and prisons both house felony offenders. But those facing Texas felony charges might not know where they will go if convicted and sentenced to incarceration. Likewise, they may not know the difference between state jails and prisons. In reality, those differences can be significant depending on where you’re headed.

 

Where Do Felons Go?

 

Texas classifies felonies as state jail felonies, third-degree felonies, second-degree felonies, first-degree felonies or capital felonies. State jails house those with state jail felony convictions. Examples of state jail felonies include possession of a controlled substance under one gram and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. State prisons house those with higher degree felonies.

 

Felony designations determine where the offender will serve his or her sentence of incarceration. Unfortunately, they do not always correlate with the level of comfort the inmate will encounter. Put simply, neither sentences in state jails or state prisons are pleasant. State jails might offer more programs and amenities to inmates if resources are available. But when it comes to state prisons, those resources are increasingly scarce. These designations also segregate more serious felony offenders from minor felony offenders. This allows the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to better allocate funds to house inmates based on their offense category.

 

Fight Your Felony Charges Head on With an Experienced Attorney

 

If you are facing charges for a Texas felony, make sure you discuss your case in detail with a seasoned criminal defense attorney in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. An attorney can advise you on what type of felony charge you are facing. He or she may also be able to help you avoid a prison sentence by reducing your charge to a state jail felony or (better still) a misdemeanor. Every case is different, however, so consult with an attorney for personalized legal advice.

 

 

If you’re facing felony charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action to protect your rights. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email team@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

 

Loss of Firearm Rights and Family Violence Convictions

Loss of Firearm Rights and Family Violence Convictions

Consequences of Family Violence

 

Federal law prohibits anyone with a felony conviction, a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or who is subject to a domestic violence protective order from possessing firearms. The State of Texas plays a role in enforcing this law and places similar restrictions on the firearms rights of those with domestic violence (i.e. family violence) convictions or those subject to protective orders. Indeed, this is one of the lesser-known consequences of a family violence conviction but not one that is without impact, especially in one of the most heavily armed states in the country.

 

A Flaw in the Law

 

Prohibiting firearm possession isn’t always enough. Texas does not have a law requiring those prohibited from possessing firearms to turn guns and ammunition in. In some states, defendants must bring their firearms to the police department or to a licensed buyer and provide the court with proof. Also, you can still purchase guns from sellers or dealers who don’t run background checks even if you lose your firearm rights.

 

That said, enforcement of this law is difficult in Texas and relies on factors such as proper reporting and steep penalties for offenders. While Texans may not be required to provide proof they relinquished their firearms, they can face harsh penalties if they are caught unlawfully possessing a firearm. Unlawful possession of a firearm in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in a local or county jail and potentially a fine of up to $4,000.

 

Don’t Want to Lose Your Firearm Rights? Fight Your Charges

 

The only way to avoid losing your firearm rights is to avoid a family violence conviction. Now, we realize that is easier said than done. But talking to a skilled family violence defense attorney in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is a good starting point. Due to the long-lasting (and far-reaching) consequences of a family violence conviction, we recommend you thoroughly discuss your case before you enter a plea. An attorney can explain the penalties you could face for a conviction in addition to the various collateral consequences, such as loss of firearms rights.

 

If you’re facing family violence charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action to protect your rights. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email team@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

Punishment for Drug Possession: Why Quantity and Penalty Group Matter

Punishment for Drug Possession: Why Quantity and Penalty Group Matter

Simple Drug Possession Isn’t Simple

 

The State of Texas maintains some of this nation’s strictest drug possession laws. In Texas, you can face long periods of incarceration and steep fines for even simple drug possession charges. Drug possession offenses vary by the drug type—also called the penalty group or “schedule”—and the quantity, or the amount you had. These factors provide guidelines for how to charge and sentence offenders.

 

Quantity and Type

 

The law divides controlled substances into types or “schedules” that classify drugs based on numerous factors, such as the potential for misuse and dependency. Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, possession of a controlled substance is punishable by:

 

  • A minimum of confinement in jail for no more than 180 days, a fine of up to $2,000 or both.
  • A maximum of confinement under the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for no less than ten years and no more than 99 years or life and a fine of up to $100,000.

 

As you can see, the punishment range is vast. The type (i.e. penalty group) and the quantity of the drug are the two factors that determine whether you will get just a fine or up to life in prison. There are four main drug penalty groups. For example, penalty group one contains substances like opiates (synthetic and natural) and penalty group 4 contains substances like over the counter cough remedies. The quantity factor is measured in grams, ounces, pounds, tons or “abuse units,” depending on the specific drug type. For example, drugs in penalty group one are measured in grams.

 

Most forms of simple possession of controlled substances in small amounts (again, relative to the type) are state jail felonies. Possession of more significant amounts in type-specific units of measurement is punishable by much longer sentences in addition to exorbitant fines.

 

Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance

 

 

The penalties for drug possession in Texas are nothing to laugh about. For this reason, you need to speak with a Dallas-Fort Worth drug charge defense attorney experienced in handling drug cases if you are facing possession charges or any drug-related charge. An attorney can evaluate the facts and circumstances of your offense and walk you through the potential penalties you could face. A conviction for drug possession can result in a long incarceration period in addition to huge fines, so it’s well worth your time to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to learn about what you can do to fight your charges.

 

If you are facing charges for possession of a controlled substance in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action given your circumstances. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email team@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

 

Are All Texas Felonies Created Equal? A Look at Crime Degrees

Are All Texas Felonies Created Equal? A Look at Crime Degrees

Types of Texas Felonies

 

In Texas, felonies are crimes that are punishable by a term in a state jail or prison. Felonies are considered more serious than misdemeanor offenses. But not all felonies are created equal. They will typically fall within one of the following categories.

 

State Jail Felony

 

As the name suggests, state jail felonies are those that are punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine up to $10,000. State jails are an answer to the overcrowding in Texas state prisons and typically house nonviolent felons. But, unlike in terms in county jails or state prisons, felons in state jails are not eligible for early release due to good behavior. Examples of Texas state jail felonies include possession of a controlled substance under 1 gram and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

 

Third Degree Felony

 

Third degree felonies are punishable by a prison term of between two and 10 years, and the judge may also impose a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of third degree felonies include intoxication assault and third offense DWI.

 

Second Degree Felony

 

Second degree felonies are punishable by a prison term of between two and 20 years and potentially a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of second degree felonies include aggravated assault and robbery.

 

First Degree Felony

 

First degree felonies are punishable by a prison term of between five and 99 years or life in prison and potentially a fine of up to $10,000. Examples of first degree felonies include aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.

 

Capital Felony

 

Capital felonies are punishable by a prison term of life without parole or the death penalty. Examples of capital felonies include murder of a peace officer on duty or murder of multiple people during the same criminal episode.

 

Felony Charges? Get Serious About Your Defense

 

Any felony charge should be taken seriously. With potentially long terms of incarceration and steep fines, no one can afford to plead guilty to a Texas felony. Whenever facing felony charges, it’s absolutely essential you work with a skilled Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney. Involve an attorney in your case as soon as you can. An attorney can explain the penalties you could face and the important elements in your case the prosecution must prove to convict you. From there, you can develop a plan of action to fight your charges. Naturally, any person will want any criminal charge dismissed, but you really have to assess the evidence against you along with the plea bargain being offered by the State. Being that the sentences for some types of felonies can result in a punishment that can cost the better part of your life, it is imperative that you select an experienced attorney who can weigh all the options when deciding how best to fight and/or resolve the case.

 

 

If you need help fighting your felony charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action to fight your charges. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email team@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

Repeat Domestic Violence Offender in Texas? You Could Face Continuous Family Violence Charges

Repeat Domestic Violence Offender in Texas? You Could Face Continuous Family Violence Charges

Repeat Offenders Can Face Serious Charges

 

The State of Texas takes family violence (i.e. domestic violence) very seriously. Thus, punishments for family violence offenses are harsh and geared toward rehabilitating the offender and preventing future harm. Not surprisingly, if you are a repeat domestic violence offender in Texas, expect the court to charge with you continuous family violence and enhance those penalties significantly. Now let’s take a look at the specifics of this offense and the penalties you could face for a conviction.

 

What Is Continuous Family Violence?

 

Continuous violence against the family is a charge that applies to repeat family violence offenders. Under Texas Penal Code §25.11, a person can be charged with continuous violence against the family if he or she commits assault against a family or household member two or more times within a 12 month period. The second or subsequent offense does not have to be against the same victim. It can be against any member of your family or household, as defined by law under Texas Family Code §71.003.

 

Who Is a Family or Household Member?

 

To be charged under PC §25.11, the alleged victim must be a family or household member. A household is defined as a group of people residing in one dwelling unit, who may or may not be related. Members of a family can include people who are related by consanguinity or affinity, parents of the same child, former spouses, or are a foster parent or foster child.

 

Enhancing the Penalties

 

Continuous family violence is a third-degree felony in Texas and is punishable by between two and ten years of incarceration by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The court may also impose a fine of no more than $10,000.

 

Continuous family violence is a serious charge in Texas. Thus, it’s essential you work closely with a seasoned Dallas-Fort Worth family violence defense attorney whenever facing family violence charges. To avoid the life-changing consequences of a felony conviction, it’s important to explore all your options for fighting your charges before you make any decisions in your case. An attorney can help you do this so that you minimize the negative consequences of your charge.

 

If you are facing continuous family violence charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email clients@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

Raising the Stakes: Aggravating Factors in Texas DWI Cases

Raising the Stakes: Aggravating Factors in Texas DWI Cases

Upping the Ante

 

If you are charged with DWI in Texas, you could face steep fines and surcharges, community service, DWI classes, increased insurance requirements and potentially jail time. And in light of certain aggravating factors, the court can increase those penalties significantly. Aggravating factors are elements that, if present, give the court reason to “enhance” your sentence if you are convicted. Common aggravating factors in Texas DWI cases include:

 

A Prior DWI Conviction

 

A prior DWI conviction if proven will increase the minimum jail sentence associated with the charge. The public policy behind this increase is that the person charged did not learn from the first DWI conviction. However, a knowledgeable DWI attorney may be able to keep out prior convictions or even get the State to agree to not consider it.

 

Open Container of Alcohol in the Car

 

If you have an open container of alcohol in the car when you were driving while intoxicated, you could face a mandatory six-day jail sentence. Driving with an open container of alcohol is a crime in and of itself, typically punishable by just a fine unless you are underage.

 

Underage Drinking

 

In Texas, there are two types of charges for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol: DWI and DUI. DWI applies to drivers over the age of 21 who drive while intoxicated. DUI applies to underage drivers for driving under the influence. An underage driver need not be intoxicated to face DUI charges and may face additional charges for underage drinking.

 

High BAC

 

A high BAC in Texas is an aggravating factor in DWI cases. If your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level was .15 or higher, you could be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. Interestingly though, the minimum jail sentence (0 days in jail) for a first time DWI where the BAC is equal to or greater than 0.15 is actually less than if your BAC was less than 0.15. Therefore, a BAC equal to or greater than 0.15 might work to your benefit in a DWI trial.

 

Minor in the Vehicle

 

If you have a child (under the age of 15) with you when driving while intoxicated, you will face felony charges.

 

Causing an Accident

 

If you cause an accident and someone was seriously injured, you could face harsher penalties.

 

Aggravating Factors? Call an Attorney

 

The State of Texas provides many situations where courts can go above and beyond the standard DWI penalties in light of aggravating factors. Your sentence could hinge on the numerous facts and circumstances of your case. Thus, always speak with an experienced Dallas-Fort Worth DWI defense attorney when facing DWI charges.

 

 

If you’ve been arrested for a DWI in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email clients@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.

 

Top Tips for Facing Felony Charges in Texas

Top Tips for Facing Felony Charges in Texas

Facing a Felony? Here’s What You Need to Know

 

The State of Texas defines felonies as crimes that are punishable by terms in state prisons or Texas Department of Correction. Felonies are typically considered more serious than misdemeanor crimes because of the potential of prison time. Felony convictions also carry the possibility of steep fines. Federal law prohibits felons from owning or possessing firearms. In addition to these consequences, you could lose your professional license or even your job.

 

When the stakes are this high, it’s normal to feel anxious about what your future holds. You are right to be worried, but do not give up hope. Our experienced attorneys who’ve helped many Texans face and overcome felony charges compiled this list of tips to guide you in your time of need.

 

Stay Quiet

 

The most important piece of advice for anyone facing felony charges is to remain silent. Do not speak with police officers, detectives or anyone from the district attorney’s office. You have a Constitutional right to freedom from self-incrimination. Simply put, this means you do not have to give the courts the information they need to convict you. You hold the cards when it comes to information about the allegations you face. Keep that information to yourself and for your attorney.

 

Learn About the Penalties

 

The best thing you can do when facing felony charges is to consult with a Texas criminal defense attorney. Ask about the court-imposed penalties you could face and what those mean. Educating yourself on the consequences of a conviction should be one of the first things you do in your case. Knowing what is at stake will help guide your decision-making.

 

Explore Your Options

 

Learning about your options may give you peace of mind. Facing felony charges does not mean a conviction is imminent. A good attorney will be able to evaluate the facts and circumstances of your offense and advise you on what you can do to fight your charges, negotiate a plea bargain or receive a reduced sentence.

 

Be Patient

 

Resolving your case almost certainly will not happen overnight, especially if you want a good deal or even a dismissal. Some people plead guilty or no contest as a knee-jerk reaction. They want to be done with the whole ordeal. But pleading guilty only means the criminal courts will be involved in your life for longer. Not only will you face sentencing, but you could also be subject to probation for up to 10 years. Also, you will carry your criminal record with you for years to come. Use this time to explore all your options and learn about your rights.

 

As a last word of caution, don’t face your charges alone. Work closely with an experienced Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney. Do not take any chances when facing felony charges. You need savvy legal representation to avoid the worst outcome.

 

If you are facing felony charges in Dallas-Fort Worth, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb Criminal Defense Attorneys can aggressively protect your rights. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email clients@jbabblaw.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.