Drug charges are one of the most common charges
filed in Texas courts. Felony drug charges are
filed in the District Courts and misdemeanors
are filed in the County Courts at Law. Whether
the drug charge is a felony or misdemeanor generally
depends on three factors: (1) the identity of
the drug; (2) the quantity of the drug (including
adulterants and dilutants); and (3) punishment
enhancements for proscribed conduct.
IDENTITY OF THE DRUG. There
are certain groups of drugs, called penalty groups,
that set up the punishment scheme for most drugs.
The penalty groups are listed in Chapter 481 of
the Texas Health and Safety Code. The groups are
numbered Penalty Group I through IV, with PGI
being those drugs that have no medical purpose,
such as cocaine, to PGIV, such as codeine, which
are drugs that can be possessed with a prescription.
Marijuana has no penalty group and is dealt with
in a specific statute.
QUANTITY OF THE DRUG. A
simple rule of thumb is that the more drugs one
possesses, the greater the penalty. The chart
below describes the penalties for possessing certain
quantities of drugs: