As with any crime, there are various factors that go into the severity of charges, however, with drug offenses, there tends to be a bit more sensitivity taken into account given the struggle of addiction. Another factor that also makes a huge difference is whether or not the defendant will be charged on the state or federal level. Here is a quick overview of drug offenses in Texas.
There are different schedules of drugs
In Texas, as well as many other states, a rating system will be applied to the drugs in question that are labeled as schedules, ranging from Schedule I to Schedule V. Schedule I drugs are substances that are considered to be the most highly addictive and dangerous. Some examples of schedule I drugs are LSD, Ecstacy, Heroin and Cocaine. Schedule V drugs, while still considered dangerous, are seen as not quite as addictive and serves functional purposes when properly prescribed. One main example of a schedule V drug is cough syrup with codeine. While it is prescribed all the time, there is still some possibility for abuse thus considered a Schedule V drug. When charges are being considered, the courts will rely heavily on what schedule the drug is considered to determine the severity of proposed charges. Possession vs Distribution
Federal vs State Level
As typical with any type of offense, federal offenses will be stricter than those on the state level. When it comes to drug charges, if the offense happened on federal land or the defendant dealt with an undercover federal agent, then it will automatically be considered a federal crime. The other way to guarantee a federal charge is if the defendant was distributing to minors or in a school zone.
Trafficking or Possession
Another major factor that will weigh heavily on the severity of charges would be if the arrest was for possession and use of a drug or was the offense was for trafficking of a drug. If the charge is for possession, and if it was the first offense, the judge will be more willing to consider a rehabilitative approach before going straight to jail time. However, if this was a defendant who has already had many previous offenses then jail may be considered an option. Trafficking on the hand is considered far more serious. This is because it not only put the user themselves in danger but also threatens the health and lives of others. Courts tend to be much stricter in terms of charges and sentencing for defendants who are proven to be trafficking drugs.