Drug Possession Attorney in Austin, Stephen Bowling

If you are facing a drug possession charge in Austin, Texas, you know the stakes are high. These charges can cast a long shadow over your future, affecting everything from your job prospects to your personal freedom. 

This blog post aims to shed light on critical aspects of drug possession laws in Texas, offering insights and guidance for those facing such charges. Understanding the offense and its legal implications is the first step toward defending your rights effectively.

What Constitutes Drug Possession in Austin? 

In Austin, Texas, as in the rest of the state, drug possession laws are governed by the Texas Controlled Substances Act, which defines drug possession as knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled substance unless obtained under a valid prescription from a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice. This definition includes having direct physical control over the drug (actual possession) or having the power and intention to control the drug, even if it is not actually on your person (constructive possession).

Are There Different Penalties for Different Types of Substances?

Yes. Texas divides controlled substances into several penalty groups (plus a separate category for marijuana), based on factors like their potential for abuse and whether they have any accepted medical use:

  • Penalty Group 1: Examples include opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, morphine, and certain hallucinogens like LSD and mescaline.
  • Penalty Group 1-A: Specifically for lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and its analogs.
  • Penalty Group 2: Examples include cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), and certain prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin.
  • Penalty Group 2-A: Synthetic cannabinoids such as K2 and Spice.
  • Penalty Group 3: Examples include anabolic steroids, ketamine, and certain prescription medications containing limited amounts of codeine or opium derivatives.
  • Penalty Group 4: Includes compounds containing small amounts of narcotics or controlled substances, such as cough syrups containing codeine.

The penalties for drug possession in Texas can vary significantly depending on the penalty group of the substance and the amount in possession, such as the presence of drug paraphernalia or evidence of intent to distribute. Penalties can range from a Class B misdemeanor (for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana) to a first-degree felony (for possession of large amounts of drugs in Penalty Group 1). 

These penalties can include fines, imprisonment, or both. Furthermore, the penalties can be enhanced if the possession occurs in a drug-free zone, such as near a school or youth center.

Minimum Quantity: How Many Grams is a Felony?

The threshold for a drug possession charge to qualify as a felony varies significantly depending on the specific substance and its penalty group. Generally, possessing less than one gram of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 is enough to be charged with a state jail felony. The penalties escalate with the amount of the substance, with possession of one gram or more potentially leading to a higher-degree felony. 

It is important to note that if you are facing a drug possession charge in Austin or have questions about specific circumstances, like whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge, consulting with an experienced drug possession attorney in Austin is strongly advised.

Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go to Jail in Austin?

While jail time is possible even for a first-time offender in Austin, alternatives like probation, diversion programs, or drug education classes may be available, especially for charges involving substances in lower penalty groups or small amounts. Whether a first-time drug offender goes to jail for a drug possession charge depends on various factors, including:

  • The Type and Amount of Drug: Smaller amounts of less dangerous substances may result in lighter sentences.
  • The Nature of the Offense: Charges that involve simple possession for personal use might be treated more leniently than those involving intent to distribute or sell.
  • The Availability of Diversion Programs: Texas and Travis County offer several programs and alternative sentencing options like probation, drug education, or rehabilitation programs, which may be available to a first-time drug offender.

How Do You Beat a Drug Possession Charge?

Beating a drug possession charge in Austin involves a strategic defense tailored to the specifics of your case. Key strategies may include:

  1. Legal Representation: A qualified criminal defense attorney can guide you through the legal process, explain your rights, and represent you in court.
  2. Challenge the Evidence: This could include illegal search and seizure, improper handling of evidence, or lack of probable cause for the arrest.
  3. Challenge the Search and Seizure: If law enforcement obtained the drugs through an illegal search and seizure, your attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence. 
  4. Explore Alternative Sentencing Options: In some cases, particularly for first-time offenders or those charged with minor drug offenses, alternative sentencing options such as drug diversion programs or probation may be available. 
  5. Build a Defense Strategy: This could involve arguing lack of knowledge or intent, challenging the reliability of witness testimony, or presenting evidence of entrapment or coercion.
  6. Consider a Plea Bargain: This could involve pleading guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a reduced sentence or other concessions.
  7. Prepare for Trial: If your case goes to trial, your Austin drug possession attorney will prepare a strong defense and advocate on your behalf in court. This will involve cross-examining witnesses, presenting evidence, and making legal arguments to the judge or jury.

It is important to remember that every possession case is unique, and the best approach will depend on the specific circumstances involved. Consulting with a skilled Austin drug charges lawyer is essential to determine the most effective strategy for your defense.

How Much is Bond for a Drug Possession Charge in Austin?

The bond amount for a drug possession charge in Austin can vary significantly, influenced by factors such as:

  • The severity of the charge
  • The defendant’s criminal history; and 
  • Other case-specific factors

Generally, bond amounts are set higher for more serious charges involving larger quantities of drugs or substances classified in more severe penalty groups. The court also considers the defendant’s flight risk and community ties when determining the bond amount. 

Can You Get Probation for a Felony Drug Charge in Austin?

Yes, probation is possible for felony drug charges, particularly for first-time offenders or lower penalty group substances. The court may offer probation as an alternative to incarceration, aiming to rehabilitate rather than punish. 

Probation conditions might include 

  • A drug treatment program 
  • Community service; and/or 
  • Regular check-ins with a probation officer. 

The specifics will depend on the details of the case, the drug involved, and the individual’s criminal history.

What is the Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Drug Possession in Austin, TX?

Mandatory minimum sentencing for drug possession in Texas varies based on the controlled substance’s penalty group and the amount possessed. These sentences are set by state law to establish the least severe punishment that someone convicted of a drug possession charge must receive. Factors influencing mandatory minimums include:

  • The drug’s classification 
  • The amount possessed; and 
  • The presence of aggravating circumstances

Higher penalty groups and larger quantities typically result in stricter minimum sentences.

How Long Does a Drug Charge Stay on Your Record in TX?

In Texas, a drug charge can remain on your record indefinitely. However, certain circumstances, such as the outcome of your case or eligibility criteria, might allow for expungement or sealing of the record, effectively limiting its visibility to the public and certain entities. The process and eligibility for removing a drug charge from your record depend on several factors, including the nature of the charge, conviction status, and completion of any sentencing requirements.


If you are facing a drug possession charge in Austin, you are certainly not alone. With strict Texas laws governing controlled substances, many Texans find themselves in this precarious legal situation. Navigating a drug possession charge successfully requires not only knowledge of the law but also a deep understanding of the local courts and available defense strategies. 

With the right approach and the help of a skilled drug charges lawyer, Austin residents can deal with a possession charge more effectively, aiming for an outcome that minimizes the long-term impact on their lives.

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816 Congress Ave, Suite 950
Austin, Texas 78701

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San Antonio, Texas 78205