Under Texas law, there are certain elements that can increase the penalties for a defendant’s drug charges if the prosecutor can prove them. If you have an upcoming trial for allegedly committing a drug offense, you may be interested in knowing the type of things that the prosecutor may try to prove in order to add penalties on top of your existing drug charges.
The location of the offense
There are certain locations – known as Drug Free Zones – in which drug offenses are taken especially seriously. These Zones include places like the area within 1,000 feet of a school, and within 3,000 of places where children tend to congregate – such as video game arcades and playgrounds. Drug offenses that take place within a Drug Free Zone can come with more severe penalties upon conviction.
The involvement of children
If a prosecutor can prove that a defendant used a minor under 18 years old to assist them in a drug-related offense, such as by distributing or delivering drugs, the penalty increases by one degree. The penalty will further increase significantly if the child’s help was obtained through threat of force.
The possession of a weapon
In Texas, it is a separate offense to have a weapon on your person while you are engaged in criminal activity. This means that, if you have a weapon on you, you could face an unlawful weapon charge in addition to any drug charges. The penalties increase drastically if you used the weapon in the commission of the drug offense.
In addition to all of these elements, it’s also important to become acquainted with the statutory minimums for drug charges. The higher a quantity of drug you allegedly possessed, the higher the penalties could be upon conviction. This is why it is critical to prepare a solid defense to the charges.