Texas imposes serious consequences for the use, possession and distribution of controlled substances, including many prescription drugs. In addition to legal penalties, health care providers may also suffer loss of licensure and professional reputation.
Read on to understand the different types of prescription drug crimes and the state penalties for these convictions.
Categories of illegal prescription drugs
Texas divides controlled substances into four categories called penalty groups. The law categorizes commonly abused prescription drugs as follows:
- Penalty Group 1, which distinguishes the most dangerous substances, includes opiates, flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine.
- Penalty Group 2, which includes depressants and stimulants not listed in other categories, such as amphetamines
- Penalty Group 3, which includes Ritalin, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, difenoxin, barbiturates, appetite suppressants, morphine, codeine and anabolic steroids
- Penalty Group 4, which includes buprenorphine and drugs that contain codeine and morphine along with nonnarcotic active ingredients.
Penalties by category
Texas has established the following possession sentences for each penalty group:
- Penalty Group 1: Sentences range from 180 days to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for less than one gram to 10 years to life in prison and fines of up to $100,000 for possession of more than 400 grams.
- Penalty Group 2: Jail time is the same as for Penalty Group 1, but the maximum fine for possession of more than 400 grams is $50,000.
- Penalty Group 3: Possession of less than 28 grams is a misdemeanor offense punished by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. Possession of more than 400 grams carries five years to life in prison and fines of up to $50,000.
- Penalty Group 4: Possession of less than 28 grams carries a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. Possession penalties for more than 400 grams are the same as for Group 3.
The penalties significantly vary based on the circumstances of a case. For example, having no prior convictions can result in a reduced sentence, while involvement in a minor increases a sentence.