Articles Posted in Drug Offenses

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THC infused products
The next time you’re sore from overdoing it at the gym think about taking an Epsom salts bath.  Better yet, take an Epsom salts bath with some weed in it.  These days it seems that weed makes everything work a little bit better.  Right?  Or at least that is what we are hearing from the states that have legalized marijuana. Sadly, Texas isn’t one of those states. The bad part about cannabis being legal in some states and not in others is that when people get caught in possession of these products in a state like Texas, they are in big trouble.  How big is the trouble?  Well, it depends on the weight.  But the trouble is usually Hulk Hogan big.  These THC infused products are coming in at third-degree felonies and up. In fact, the majority of cases I see are usually second-degree felonies.  How bad is a second-degree felony in Texas?  Well, it could land you in the big house, that’s right, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division for up to twenty years.  To a young adult with no criminal history that can cause a person to soil their armor.

So, what about marijuana laced bath product called Soak?  Well, it is one of the many products that are being churned out in the fast-growing medical marijuana market currently sweeping the states.  Soak is the brainchild of Whoopi Goldberg and another stoner that has a reputation for making wicked edibles.  Soak is promoted as helping women with PMS and menstrual relief.  So just what is Epsom salts?  Well, it is not the salt that you use on your food.  Epsom is a place in England that the salt is named after.  If you take this salt orally you will tend to fill your pants.  Yeah, and not in a good way.  The product is composed of magnesium sulfate which is a natural laxative. According to stoner science, your body needs both magnesium and sulfate. According to tree huggers, these two minerals have strong detoxifying and natural healing properties.  And we all know that cannabis offers even more healing properties.  Whoa, dude I can feel my body shedding the toxins.  The theory goes that that when you soak in this stuff it magically gets into your body through your skin.  Sure, that makes sense.  Brings to mind that I was so wasted last night from my medicinal beer bath, but I digress.  Yeah, so the absorbing through the skin theory has never been proven.  But it sounds cool, right?  Soaking in hot water usually makes you feel pretty good anyway. If you really want to try it, you can pick up some plain old Epsom salts at the grocery store for next to nothing. Add the weed however you like. But if you are dead set in giving Whoopi Goldberg your money then you should pick up this product.

The bottom line is, every week I meet new clients that have been arrested for possession of products containing THC or some other cannabis derivative.  Over the next few weeks I will discuss a few of these products I have stumbled upon and hopefully help someone avoid jail time over something that they had no idea would have such serious consequences.  So, if you or a loved one has been busted for any type of THC product, edible, or vape pen give me a call.  Don’t let a stupid mistake ruin your life with a criminal record.  You need an experienced criminal defense attorney with a track record of defending marijuana, THC, and other cannabis related cases.  Call us today.

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Marijuana Attorney - cannabis and its usage. marijuana leaf and marijuana products isolated on white background. cosmetics, hemp milk, hemp oil, cookies, brownies and nutritional supplements.
Being a criminal defense attorney, I try to keep up with the latest fad drugs to hit the market in order to better serve my clients and help them understand what they are being charged with when it comes to controlled substances.  This week I had a young man come in that was arrested for being in possession of marijuana.  However, when the charging instrument was filed it turned out that he was being charged by the Montgomery County District Attorney for possession of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony which carries a possible sentence of two to twenty years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division.  Wow, that is a whole lot scarier than simple pot possession.   Needless to say, my client was scared to death.  That is a pretty hefty sentence.  Luckily, the case was picked up by an assistant district attorney with a great deal of experience and very good discretion with these types of cases.  Thanks to him we were able to get the charge reduced and the client was ultimately happy with the outcome.  These types of cases are on the rise and are no longer considered unusual.  New states legalize marijuana each year and people are transporting these new pot products to Texas and will unknowingly face steep fines and sentences.  People in Conroe and Huntsville believe that Montgomery County and Walker County are following in the footsteps of Harris County in lessening the penalties.  This is simply not true.  You may ask what the pot product was that my client possessed for this severe penalty.  It was called Moon Rocks.

After a little research I found out that Moon Rocks are a new cannabis product created by a dispensary on the west coast.  Marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized marijuana are businesses.  Like all businesses they try to separate themselves from the competition.  Thus, coming up with new products that these businesses hope will set themselves apart from the growing field of competition in the growing field of legalized marijuana.  See what I did there?  Moon Rocks involve taking an already potent strain of marijuana, infusing it with hash oil, and then rolling it in kief.  The hash oil makes the weed much stronger. In one-two punch fashion, the bud is then rolled in kief which strengthens the potency even more.  Kief is the resin gland of the cannabis plant.  Think of it as a built-in defense mechanism for the plant that produces the potent THC that gets people high.  In other words, this is a powerfully concentrated form of marijuana.

These new products are classified by law enforcement as controlled substances.  Typically, controlled substances are classified by weight.  What happens when you add oil to a sponge?  It gets heavy.  Hence, the reason Moon Rocks carry such a severe penalty.  Think of pot brownies.  It is the same reason the penalty for edibles and for the THC oil commonly used in vape pens also carry a severe penalty. They are heavy.   It is not the amount of THC or drug in the product that determines the penalty but the gross weight.  Therefore, if you are caught with one of these products you could face serious consequences. 

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Conditions of Bond; Montgomery County Drug Lawyer
Rarely a week goes by where I am not contacted by a current or previous client that is having trouble with the drug testing routine in Montgomery County and Harris County.  Montgomery County is by far the most prevalent.  You see in Montgomery County, you are essentially guilty before being proven innocent.  If you are accused of a crime in Montgomery County, Texas you will most likely be subject to conditions of bond unless you chose to sit in court until your case is settled.  This can be months or years.  As a condition of bond, you must report to community supervision and you will be drug tested.  This involves you calling in daily, yes daily to see if your lot has been chosen to report for a drug test.  You then need to drop what you are doing and get to specified lab in downtown Conroe to give a specimen.  You are only supposed to be tested once per month.  This isn’t reality.   I’ve had numerous clients chosen upwards of three times per month and even multiple times per week.

One of the most common problems is a dilute sample.  Dilute samples affect active people who drink a lot of water.  Southeast Texas is one of the hottest places in the United States.  Who doesn’t drink a lot of water that works outdoors in the Houston area?  Would one think this situation causes lots and lots of false positives?  You bet!  You see in the eyes of probation, the district attorney, and the Judges in Montgomery County, a dilute urine sample is the same as a positive.  You can and will have your pretrial diversion contract revoked, and you can and will go to jail for up to several weeks all based on a false positive test.  Just last week I had a client that had multiple dilute samples over the course of her probation.  I had her take a hair follicle test that goes back weeks to test for drugs and she came back negative.  Therefore, each dilute test in her case was a false positive.  How much does it cost you for a hair follicle test to prove you are innocent of taking drugs while you are on bond or probation?  About $300.  And yes, you are also billed for the urine tests and other associated costs when you are on conditions of bond for something you may not have done but were only accused of doing.

Another frequent question I get weekly is, “you mean someone can lie to the police, and based on that lie I can be arrested and do jail time?”  The simple answer is yes, it happens all the time.  But what about positive drug tests?  Can you do jail time based on a positive drug test when you are not actually taking anything illegal?  Here are two of many examples.

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Montgomery County Drug Arrest Lawyer
An interesting opinion dropped from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals this week.  In the case, an undercover police officer was surveilling a sports bar in Houston known for its well documented history of drug busts.  In actuality, under the guise of surveillance, the police officer was probably profiling customers at the local bar.  One unlucky man stopped at the bar and stayed for what the officer stated was in the range of three to five minutes and then left.  The officer followed the man and then called for a marked car to make the bust so as not to blow his cover.  The marked police car then pulled the man over for an alleged lane change without a turn signal.  Before stopping the car, the officer noticed the man making furtive gestures around the console in the vehicle.  This is a ruse officers use to try and make a search.  As if a person in a car behind you can see what you are doing in front of them in your car at night.  Please.  The uniformed officer then arrested the man and searched his vehicle.  In the search, the officer finds two baggies of cocaine.  One in the center console and one between the console and the passenger seat.

The attorney for “citizen accused” filed a motion to suppress the evidence of the search in the trial court but the motion was denied.  The man subsequently entered into a plea agreement for three years deferred adjudication but preserved his right to appeal the ruling of the trial court.  Under the Fourth Amendment, a search of a person or property is not reasonable without a warrant without a specifically defined exception.  One of these exceptions is termed the “automobile exception.”  Under the automobile exception, police may search your car without a warrant if there is probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains contraband.

The court of appeals considered the issue of probable cause in this matter.  There, the Court used the following facts to justify the search.  First, the officer was performing surveillance on a bar known for drug sales. Second, while the man was stopped in a turn lane, with marked police car behind him, and an undercover officer beside him.  Staring.  Said the man made furtive gestures in his car.  Okay, so two cops have you boxed in and are staring you down.  You’re supposed to act cool, right?  Sure.  The court of appeals affirmed the finding of the trial court.  The ruling that being at a bar known for drug activity and making furtive gestures while being boxed in by two cops was enough for probable cause to arrest you.  Fair, right?

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Marijuana DWI Attorney
NPR and the Wall Street Journal are some of the many news agencies featuring op-ed articles on the problem states and even countries are facing with impaired driving as it relates to marijuana.  Although marijuana is still illegal in Texas at any level, just what constitutes whether or not an individual is impaired, and at what point is the person charged with driving while intoxicated?  These are tough questions but as more states are legalizing cannabis in one form or another it is a problem that needs to be solved and yet may never happen.

In Texas, we have the legal level for alcohol set at a 0.08 BAC.  So, what’s the problem with weed?  Unlike alcohol, drugs like THC do not have a relationship between the levels of the drug in the tissues and what is considered impairment.  To make matters worse, the method of ingestion can also vary the level of impairment.  Our bodies process marijuana differently when we smoke the marijuana versus when the marijuana is eaten as in an edible product.

Some states have enacted a standard of five nanograms or delta-9-THC per milliliter of blood.  Like the Texas law for alcohol in a DWI arrest, a court can find a person is impaired at the five nanogram level for marijuana just as in a 0.08 in an alcohol test.

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Montgomery County DWI Attorney
In the wake of more states legalizing the use and possession of marijuana people are scrambling to come up with a definition of what categorizes “driving while high.”  No one favors driving under the influence of marijuana or any other mind-altering drug.  The problem becomes what exactly is the definition of driving while high and how do we test for it?

In Texas, if you are pulled over by law enforcement due to some overt cause such as weaving or erratic driving, the officer is going to suspect something is up.  Currently, law enforcement uses field sobriety tests.  The problem is that the equipment law enforcement uses to check for alcohol like a breathalyzer does not work for impairment by other drugs, specifically not for marijuana or THC.  The only real solution at this point is to take the driver to the police station or hospital and draw blood.

Once police have the blood they can send it off to a lab to test if the person has marijuana in their system.  But there are no legal limits in most states including Texas.  Some states have set a standard at the limit of .5 milligrams of THC (the intoxicating substance in marijuana) per milliliter of blood.

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Texas DWI Lawyer
A new Texas bill that gives low level criminal offenders in Texas a second chance needs only to return to the house and then be signed by the governor.  The Texas House of Representatives passed the “Second Chance” bill 140-0.  Now, the bill has moved through the Texas Senate 28-3.  The bill would allow criminal offenders without previous convictions to protect their criminal history from disclosure to the public.

In Texas, we have only two crimes in which you cannot receive a deferred sentence.  Capital murder and driving while intoxicated.  Therefore, you can be charged with an offense like sexual assault and still get a deferred sentence and keep it off your record.  Not so with DWI.  The law used to allow for a DWI to fall off your record after ten years.  Not so anymore.  So, say you pick up a DWI in college, what can you do to get it off your record?  I get this question all the time.  Until now, the answer was “nothing.” The client will say, but that happened twenty years ago, why is it still haunting me?  Simple, up until recently a DWI conviction stayed on your record for life.

The new proposed section is 411.0736 which currently reads: “procedure for conviction; certain driving while intoxicated convictions.  What the bill states is that if you complete your sentence, including any term of confinement imposed and the payment of all fines, costs, and restitution imposed, may petition the court that imposed the sentence for an order of non-disclosure of criminal history records information under this section if the person:

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Montgomery County Controlled Substance Lawyer
In a monumental decision last week, the Supreme Court ruled that a citizen can sue for malicious prosecution for being jailed due to the police falsifying drug test results.

In Joliet, Illinois, police stopped Elijah Manuel for a traffic violation.  Manuel was subsequently searched. Law enforcement officers located a vitamin bottle containing several pills.  The police suspected that the vitamins were illegal drugs and decided to perform a field test on the substance.  The field test came back negative for any illegal or controlled substance.  Nevertheless, the police decided to go ahead and arrest Mr. Manuel and charge him with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.  Manuel was taken to the police station.  At the station an evidence technician tested the pills again and received the same negative result.  However, in his report he stated that one of the pills tested, “positive for the probable presence of ecstasy.”  One of the arresting officers stated in his report that, based on his “training and experience,” he “knew the pills to be ecstasy.”

Ecstasy or “Molly,” or MDMA is a synthetic drug that can alter your mood and your perception.  The chemical formula is similar to both stimulant and hallucinogenic drugs.  MDMA and its derivatives can produce distorted time and sensory perception, excessive emotional warmth, and feelings increased energy and pleasure.  The drug achieves these effects by altering the levels or dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.  The effect of the drug can last anywhere from three to six hours.

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Tampering with Evidence
An interesting opinion was just released from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  For those of you that don’t know, this is the highest court in the State of Texas that rules on criminal matters. The case is State v. Zuniga.  Zuniga was allegedly pulled over right in front of her own house for running a stop sign.  We assume the officer saw a bottle of prescription medication in plain view and Zuniga was not able to show a valid prescription.  In Texas, if the officer sees something in plain view that he believes is illegal, then he is going to be able to search the vehicle.  While handcuffed in the back of the police car, Zuniga moved her hands to her side, reached into her crotch area, and pulled something out with her hands cupped.  All this because supposedly, she knows the officer is watching her.  Seems more than a little odd, doesn’t it?    Next, she moves her hands toward her mouth, moves her head down, and apparently, the officer thinks she swallowed something.  What is this Ms. Houdini?

The officer then took Zuniga to the hospital where x-rays were performed and her stomach was pumped.  The hospital officials did not find any illegal substance nor a baggie that may have contained something.  Of note, the State of Texas didn’t test the defendant’s blood for any illegal substance or had the lab perform an analyses the contents of Ms. Zuniga’s stomach.

Ms. Zuniga was indicted for the Texas felony charge of tampering with physical evidence.  This offense is defined in the Texas Penal Code as:

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“That was in the past; I’ve paid my debt to society.” Criminal defense attorneys hear that quite a bit.  The truth of the matter is that your past counts.  A lot.  When a potential employer looks over your job resume’, do you think he or she considers the fact that you have been fired from your previous three jobs?  Of course they do. 

So what’s the big deal?  Well, anyone that keeps up with what is happening in criminal law in Conroe, Texas, or even the Nation sees myriad headlines such as, “Man Gets Life Sentence for Fifth DWI Conviction.”  The past is a good indicator of the future.  People tend to forget that little inconvenient fact.

So, how does your past affect you?  It could in many profound ways.  First off, if you are arrested for a crime in the counties that I practice in, which include Harris, Montgomery, Walker, Madison, Grimes, and Leon for example, then it can and will affect your bail.  First time criminal offenders usually have a trivial amount of bail.  Repeat offenders have a bail that rises steeply with each consecutive offense.  This is especially true of felonies.  Montgomery County tends to be more secretive with their bail amounts.  Walker, Madison, Grimes, and Leon Counties post their prospective bail amounts online.  For instance, if you are arrested on a first-degree offense in Walker County and it’s your first offense, the bail would typically be set at $20, 000.  A prior first offense gets you a $30,000 bond and more than one prior offense will land you at the $50,000 mark.  In addition, the underlying Texas Penal Code Statutes that you will be charged with are generally getting tougher.