R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Myths about the consequences of drug charges

Most of us don’t think about the consequences of our actions until they’re upon us. Worse yet, when we do, we might imagine that these penalties won’t be so bad.

But this thinking can be really dangerous when it comes to drug charges in Texas. Here are a few of the more popular myths you shouldn’t believe and why.

You could get a slap on the wrist for small amounts

It’s true that penalties for drug charges tend to increase in severity depending on the type and amount of the substance. However, possessing small amounts of drugs can still result in harsh penalties — especially in Texas.

For example, despite the legal status of recreational marijuana in some other states, first-time charges for possession of any amount less than 2 ounces of the substance in Texas could be punished with a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a fine up to $10,000.

Similarly, possessing any trace of cocaine that is less than one gram is punishable as a state jail felony, which carries a minimum sentence of 6 months in prison or up to two years.

Criminal charges won’t affect your employment opportunity

This may only be true in Austin, Texas, which recently passed “ban-the-box” legislature to prevent employers from inquiring about applicants’ criminal backgrounds before making a conditional offer. Employers in Houston, however, may dismiss your job application categorically by sorting out all applicants with a criminal background — even if the crime is minor or unrelated to the position.

Further, penalties for drug charges could still hurt your employment opportunity in any Texas city if your sentence includes license suspension. Similarly, sentences requiring public service, treatment or future court appearances could also create schedule conflicts with your job.

Not even an arrest will stop my addiction

Many drug-related charges are a result of addiction. Addiction science tells us that some drugs can influence a person’s behavior, causing them to do things they normally wouldn’t do it. Further, the effects of the drug and the person’s dependency on it may prevent them from saying no, propelling the cycle of use over and over.

Because it is unfair to punish someone from something they cannot help, there is an alternative to jail sentences that some defendants may be able to seek for drug-related charges. Drug courts help non-violent offenders through treatment programs, instead of sentencing them to jail.

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