Texas considering treatment options for minor drug crimes

For decades, legislatures have drafted laws with severe consequences for those convicted of certain drug offenses. Any time a new drug started to become more commonly used, new laws would be enacted in an effort to slow the drug's spread. If the punishments were not severe enough, changes would be made to the laws to ensure that the penalties conveyed the seriousness of the charges.

As attitudes toward certain drugs change, the penalties for a conviction change as well. Minor drug charges, such as possession of small amounts of marijuana, may no longer even carry jail time. Texas, like many other states, is having serious issues with overcrowding in its prisons. To make room for more violent offenders, those convicted of lesser drug crimes might be eligible for diversionary programs that keep them out of jail.

Bills are currently being proposed in the Texas legislature that would allow first-time offenders in possession of four grams or less of certain drugs to receive treatment instead of going to jail for their crimes. Many convicted of these lower crimes are convicted of later drug-related offenses, because they cannot break the cycle of addiction.

Programs focused on treatment can help those offenders learn more about the steps they need to take to become less dependent upon drugs or alcohol. Additionally, it also allows these offenders to learn about what might happen to them if they continue down this path. They can see what the consequences of future convictions may be, and learn what they need to do to help turn their lives around.

However, not all drug charges are created equal. Those charged with offenses under Texas state drug laws may have more options than those facing federal drug crimes. If convicted of federal offenses, the crimes will carry mandatory-minimum sentences. This almost always means time in a federal prison, high fines as well as increased penalties for later crimes.

If you are facing either state or federal drug charges, you need to be sure that you offer a strong defense against these accusations. The consequences of a conviction can haunt you for many years after your trial has ended. Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about what you can do to defend yourself during your trial.

Many of these cases involve extensive investigations by law enforcement into suspected criminal activity. Officers may try to get you to admit to certain things in the hopes that you will try to talk your way out of trouble. Police and prosecutors are not on your side. They want you to make it easier to prove their case, and you should not talk to them without having your attorney present to protect your rights.

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