TEXAS DRUG LAWS
Texas drug laws are harsh for simple possession, first time offenders, or drug dealers alike. An individual caught with less than a sugar packet (1 gram) of cocaine faces a minimum of 180 days in state jail up to 2 years and a $10,000 fine. For this reason, it is never in the best interest of a suspect to consent to a search or talk to the police without first consulting an experienced and reputable criminal defense lawyer.
The State must prove intentional or knowing possession of the drug. Unfortunately, many of times, police use coercion to get people to either consent to a search or confess to possession. Sometimes people consent to a search because they are unaware of the presence of drugs. Other times people confess to possession of drugs that are not theirs because of the promises made by police officers. Couple these two situations together and you have an innocent person accused of a crime. For example, someone leaves a bag of less than a gram of cocaine in your vehicle, unknown to you that the drug was ever present in your car, a week later you are pulled over by a State Trooper. Like most people, you are nervous in the presence of the Trooper, which he believes that to indicate you are hiding something. The Trooper requests to search your vehicle, like most people, you say yes because you do not think you have a choice or can say no. The Trooper then finds the cocaine in your vehicle. What happens next? You are arrested! It is not mine or I do not know how it got there will not get you released. After your vehicle is impounded and you are booked into the county jail, the Trooper comes to talk to you. It usually goes like this, “If you just talk to me, I will talk to the district attorney, but if you do not talk to me, I have no choice but to report what I found. Trust me; it is in your best interest to talk to me now, while you have the chance.”
Police officer promises are not binding in court and are usually made off the record. After the arrest, the offense report is sent to the district attorney’s office with no mention of the promise or offer made by the police officer. One may think their attorney could then relay the offer to the district attorney’s office; however, this is not the case. A police officer does not have any authority to negotiate with an accused. That authority is delegated to the district attorney. The district attorney has no obligation to a police officer other than to prosecute cases and follow the law.
That example above is completely legal, so long as, the Trooper gives the accused his or her Miranda warnings before asking questions. One common myth is that the police officer must give everyone Miranda warnings. This is not true, in fact, most arrests occur without the suspect ever being given Miranda warnings. After someone is placed into custody, if the officer is going to ask any questions that may incriminate the suspect, at that time, the law requires the suspect be given Miranda warnings. So, what do clever police officer’s do to avoid giving a suspect their Miranda rights? They ask questions at the scene of the crime before the suspect is placed into custody. This is why you should never talk to the police or consent to searches without first talking to a criminal defense lawyer. Many of times, an innocent person will be afraid to take their innocence to a jury because the fear of a felony conviction and consequences that comes with a conviction. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will advise strongly against accepting a plea to a crime that you did not commit.