A Quick Guide to Texas Drug Possession Charges

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577


Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code govern drug offenses in Texas.  Don’t bother trying to look it up.  It’s an impossible maze and you’d need a pharmacy degree to understand.  And even then it’s tough.  Here’s a quick and dirty guide:

Three Factors Determine Offense Level for Drug Possession

The main factors are; (1) the type of drug; (2) the amount; and (3) surrounding aggravating circumstances (such as drug-free zone or possession with intent to deliver.)

Penalty Groups

Drugs are classified into penalty groups and there is a special group for marijuana.  Though this isn’t a complete list, it should give you a good idea… and you can click on the link for a complete list of each penalty group:

Penalty Group 1: Cocaine, Heroine, Methamphetamine, Ketamine, Oxycodone and Hydrocodone (over 300 mg).

Penalty Group 1a: LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide).

Penalty Group 2: Ecstasy, PCP (Phencyclidine), Mescaline, Marinol,

Penalty Group 3: Valium, Xanex, Ritalin, and Hydrocodone (less than 300 mg.)

Penalty Group 4: Dionine (morphine), Motofen, Buprenorphine (an opioid), and Pyrovalerone.



Usable Amount Less than 2 Ounces: Class B Misdemeanor.

Between 2 and 4 Oz.:  Class A Misdemeanor.

4 Oz. to 5 pounds:  State Jail Felony.

5lbs. to 50 lbs.:  3rd Degree Felony.

50 lbs. to 2,000 lbs.:  2nd Degree Felony.

Over 2,000 lbs.:  1st Degree Felony (Fine not to exceed $50,000)

Penalty Groups 1 & 2:

Less than 1 gram:  State Jail Felony.

Between 1 and 4 grams: 3rd Degree Felony

Between 4 and 200 grams (4 and 400 grams for Pen. Group 2): 2nd Degree Felony

Over 200 grams on Pen. Group 1 (over 400 grams for Pen. Group 2):  1st Degree Felony

400 grams or more (Pen. Group 1):  Enhanced 1st Degree Felony (10 years to 99).

Penalty Group 1A:

Less than 20 units: State jail felony

Between 20 and 80 units:  3rd Degree Felony

Between 80 and 4,000 units:  2nd Degree Felony

4,000 to 8,000 units:  1st Degree Felony

Over 8,000 Units:  Enhanced 1st Degree Felony

Penalty Group 3 &4

Less than 28 grams: Class A Misdemeanor.

28 to 200 grams: 3rd Degree Felony

200 grams to 400:  2nd Degree Felony

400 grams or more:  1st Degree Felony.

Aggravating Factors:

Aggravating factors can increase the punishment range.  The general rule of thumb is that an aggravating factor will enhance the punishment by one level.  Aggravating factors can be possession with intent to distribute or possession in a drug free zone.  For example, possession of marijuana of less than 2 ounces in a drug free zone is a Class A Misdemeanor instead of a Class B.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any specific issue you should consult an attorney directly.

4 Responses to A Quick Guide to Texas Drug Possession Charges

  1. Angie Fischl says:

    If a 18 yr old is arrested with one ounce of marijuana in a drug free zone with no other criminal record what is the charge…Mis class C or is it a felony?

  2. Will says:

    I have an urgent question. I got 1 charge of class b misdemeanor for possession of marijuana. I have never been in trouble with the law before so can i exchange jail time for probation?

  3. Frank says:

    I was charged with possession of Meth under 1 gram what is the Max ill be looking at? First offence

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