Houston, Texas Drug Crimes – Punishment Range by Offense – Resources and FAQ


The Texas War on Drugs ~ Will the Real Victim Please Stand Up? In many cases, the Defendant is the real victim: In the War on Drugs, it’s often the little guy with the drug problem whom jail does nothing to help. Or the honest nurse practitioner who prescribes pain pills to patients after evaluating their needs according to physician protocols. Laws and the politics behind Houston’s latest hot offenses ~ such as pain clinic cases ~ are complex and fluid, changing every time the Texas Legislature meets. Carl Haggard is up on the latest, fighting their unjust and unintended consequences everywhere possible. He knows the politics of the judges and the prevailing mood of jurors toward all types of offenses ~ and uses this knowledge in defending our clients.



Possession of Controlled Substance – [Penalty Groups 1 and 2 – Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Heroin, MDMA]

Amount AllegedOffense LevelMaximim Punishment Range
< 1 gramState Jail FelonyMin. 180 days, Max. 2 years State jail, up to $10,000 fine
1 gram to < 4 grams3rd Degree FelonyMin. 2 years, Max. 10 years TDC, up to $10,000 fine
4 grams to < 200 grams2nd Degree FelonyMin. 2 years, Max. 20 years TDC, up to $10,000 fine
> 200 grams1st Degree FelonyMin. 5 years, Mas. 99 years or life TDC, up to $10,000 fine

Possession of Marijuana

Usable Amount AllegedOffense LevelMaximum Punishment Range
< 2 oz.Class B MisdemeanorUp to 180 days County Jail and/or fine of $2,000
2 oz. to < 4 oz.Class A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year County Jail and/or fine of $4,000
4 oz. to < 5 lbs.State Jail FelonyMin. 180 days, Max. 2 years State Jail, up to $10,000 fine



What exactly is a DRE?

A DRE is an ordinary police officer who has received a little training regarding drugs and their effects.

Is a DRE truly an “expert” in his field?

No — but he’s presented to the public as if he were. The average DRE is not a bona fide expert and is therefore not qualified to draw the conclusions he draws and on which the arrest and susequent prosecution of innocent citizens are based in whole or in part. Technically, he’s only an evaluator; thus, the use of the word “expert” in the title is misleading. In actuality, only the Court can decide whether any particular witness is an expert under Evidence Rule 702.

Where in Texas are DRE’s currently being employed in the arrest and prosecution of innocent citizens?

Currently they’re used in police agencies in counties throughout Texas, not just the larger ones like Houston.

Why was the DRE program created?

To help police officers gain credibility with juries when testifying in cases where Defendants did not perform well on standardized balance and coordination exercises [the SFT] BUT had passed the breath test. [Blew below .08] Basically — to testify on the bad FST cases where they passed the breath test.

I passed the breath test but didn’t do so well on the field sobriety test. What is the bias of the average police officer in such a situation?

The officer thinks immediately — if it wasn’t alcohol, then what DRUG caused his lack of balance and coordination. The myriad of other possibilities – disease, fatigue, stress, injuries, general lack of coordination, are completely excluded. The focus is entirely on “finding what drugs you took that caused your impairment”.

Can I be arrested and charged with DUI/DWI for taking my lawfully prescribed medication and driving?

Thanks to the recent and growing implementation of DRE’s [see above section], yes. If you take your legally-prescribed medication, as prescribed, that is, according to dosage, you can still be charged with DUI, if such medication at such a dosage impairs your driving ability.

The rub is when the DRE’s — so-called experts in drug effects — wrongfully arrest an innocent citizen claiming — again, falsely, due to the DRE’s lack of substantial expertise — that the citizen was impaired by their prescription medication. The taking of legally prescribed medication, even if according to dosage, does not ipso facto impair the ability to drive sufficient to be considered “DUI”. But thanks to our new breed of “experts” out there, mistakenly and with bias seeing impairment through drug ingestion where there is none, more and more innocent citizens are being charged with DUI/DWI after consuming no alcohol whatsoever. Even the DRE student manual concedes that “drug influence evaluation isn’t an exact science”.

This type of case can often be won with a qualified attorney. These cases also carry special considerations for the DPS ALR TDL Hearings usually attendant upon such an arrest; call our office for more information.

Drug Addiction — Court-Ordered Treatment Options: STAR Program

STAR is a drug court program which seeks to keep drug offenders out of jail and help them overcome their addictions. It stands for Success Through Addiction Recovery.

The STAR program bridges the gap between criminal justice and therapeutic approaches for our clients who have drug dependencies and do not want to fight their cases. STAR treats non-violent, repeat drug offenders to reduce the costs of continuing drug abuse and possible future crimes.

STAR has four dockets to serve the needs of over 150 clients. Hon. Judge Michael Wilkinson presides over the STAR I docket, Hon. Judge Vanessa Velasquez serves on the STAR II docket, Hon. Judge Bill Burke presides over the STAR III docket and Hon. Judge Mike Anderson serves on the STAR IV docket.

Our clients in the STAR program will receive innovative and intensive individualized supervision by the court team and treatment providers. The client, case manager and treatment provider may implement rehabilitative treatment facilities, social services, health care providers, and other programs when creating and updating an individual treatment plan. STAR employs a graduated system of incentives and sanction to reward and control client behavior. The program encourages participants to attain education and employment goals by offering seminars, GED tutoring, and employment specialists. Each client’s goals are discussed and monitored to ensure success in both completing the program and conquering the addiction.

STAR consists of a three-phase intensive, highly structured treatment program, followed by a 12-month aftercare program. During all phases, participants attend 12-step programs or an approved alternative, participate in group and individual treatment and counseling programs, submit to frequent random drug testing, and appear frequently before their judge.

Depending on the specific needs of the client, case managers refer clients to additional counseling sessions to assist in resolving the underlying issues of their dependency. Many providers offer gender-specific workshops including anger management, domestic violence, parenting, and programs that promote the overall health and welfare of the clients. Specific needs are met through referrals to mental health and health services, family counseling through family groups and Strengthening Families, housing and transportation assistance.Graduates have their cases disposed of on a case-by-case basis by the STAR program judges. All graduates have at least six months of sobriety and must be either employed or a full-time student. Graduates participate in a STAR alumni group that meets monthly to discuss long-term recovery goals and innovative ways to aid current participants. Many local facilities contract with STAR to offer various kinds of treatment, counseling, and support programs. STAR relies heavily on the support from community groups, volunteers, faith-based organizations, and local donations. Drug court programs are more cost effective than traditional incarceration by reducing recidivism. Also, drug courts save money by preventing future arrests and incarcerations.

Eligibility in Houston’s STAR Drug Court Program:

  • Have a prior drug conviction (misdemeanor or felony) or two prior drug-related arrests or be a first offender with a documented history of drug or drug and alcohol dependency; and
  • Have a pending felony drug , credit/debit card abuse, felony prostitution, state jail felony forgery or state jail felony theft charge or be on probation or deferred adjudication for one of the eligible charges; and
  • Be an adult (seventeen years of age or older) or a juvenile certified to stand trial as an adult; and
  • Be a legal resident or citizen of the United States of America and be a resident of Houston Texas;. and
  • Have a drug dependency.
  • Probationers and probation violators may be accepted into Drug Court.
  • The defense bar and Drug Court staff may recommend defendants for inclusion in the program.
  • The defendant must complete a pre-plea orientation of Drug Court to determine readiness for and commitment to the program.
  • The District Attorney has final approval for eligibility.


A defendant will be excluded from Drug Court if he:

  • Has a prior conviction, deferred adjudication or pending charge for
    • a crime of violence
    • burglary of a habitation
    • any case where a firearm is possessed, used or exhibited
    • a sex offense including but not limited to those offenses enumerated in Article 42.12 Sec. 13B(b) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
  • Has a pending charge for manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance or dangerous drug or a pending clandestine lab charge or a conviction for operating a clandestine lab
  • Has a pending charge for possession of marihuana over 5 pounds
  • Is seriously and persistently mentally ill and cannot participate in the structure of the Drug Court
  • Is unwilling or unable to terminate use of lawfully prescribed controlled substances, prescriptions and over the counter medications that affect the integrity and accuracy of drug screening
  • Has been previously terminated from the program or who has previously graduated, whether on community supervision or not, from Drug Court and is arrested on a new felony drug charge.

If you need legal assistance regarding a drug charge please contact The Haggard Law Firm today for a free consultation.