Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

In Texas criminal law, the option of deferred adjudication gives defendants the ability to admit criminal wrongdoing while avoiding a criminal record. Deferred adjudication can be a lifeline for individuals facing criminal charges, offering them a chance to avoid a formal conviction. However, understanding when and how it applies can be challenging. If a defendant is unable to meet the conditions of a deferred adjudication agreement, they may find themselves in a worse position than if they had been convicted under the original charges. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently heard an appeal by a man who was harshly punished for violating the terms of a deferred adjudication agreement.

According to the recently published judicial opinion, the defendant had been previously found liable for a criminal drug charge by a Texas court. He entered into a deferred adjudication agreement with prosecutors, in which the government would dismiss the charges if he completed certain conditions as part of the agreement. To succeed, the defendant was required to not be convicted of another crime while his agreement was pending.

In June 2020, the defendant was spotted by police in his vehicle with expired registration tags. An officer attempted to stop the vehicle, and the defendant allegedly fled the scene, and the officer initiated a chase. The defendant ultimately crashed his car, and he was arrested and charged with evading police, which led to the rescission of his deferred adjudication agreement.

In the world of criminal defense, every case presents its unique challenges and complexities. One such case that recently caught our attention is State v. Ransier, which involved an allegation of tampering with evidence. This blog post aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the case, highlighting the significance of evidence concealment and the implications it had on the final verdict.

The Facts of the Case

The incident took place in March 2015, when DPS Trooper David Kral noticed a parked truck by the roadside during an investigation. As he approached, he observed the defendant, who seemed to be concealing something in his hand. Upon closer examination, Trooper Kral discovered it was a syringe that the defendant was attempting to break and hide. The trooper ordered the defendant to drop the syringe, but he continued his efforts to conceal it. Subsequently, Trooper Kral intervened, leading to a physical altercation that resulted in the defendant falling to the ground, with the syringe dropping nearby.

Trial and Appeal

the defendant was charged with tampering with evidence for concealing the syringe. During the trial, the defense argued for the submission of the lesser-included offense of attempted tampering. However, the request was denied, and the defendant was ultimately convicted of tampering with evidence. On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that the lesser-included offense of attempted tampering was raised, emphasizing that the syringe was only partially concealed during the altercation. Continue reading

When standing up to a Texas criminal prosecution, it is important to be sure that every possible avenue for appeal is preserved throughout the process. A recent Texas Court of Appeals decision serves as an illuminating example of how careful consideration of the preservation of appellate issues can impact the outcome of a case. The defendant’s journey through the criminal justice system and his subsequent appeal demonstrate the importance of preserving issues for appellate review.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published judicial opinion, the defendant found himself facing serious charges of possession of a controlled substance after an encounter with police. After a jury found him guilty, the trial court sentenced him to thirty-five years in prison, The defendant appealed his conviction, asserting that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence.

This case highlights the importance of preserving issues for appellate review from the very outset of a trial. In his first point of error, the defendant argued that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress. However, a crucial aspect of this issue was the defendant’s failure to object during the trial effectively. The opinion emphasized that the defense counsel and the prosecution had an agreement regarding the motion to suppress. They decided that the trial court would review the body-camera footage of the arresting officers before ruling on the motion. The trial court adhered to this agreement and denied the motion after reviewing the footage.

If you or someone you know has been charged with drug possession in Kaufman County, it’s important to understand the gravity of the situation and seek legal representation immediately. Drug possession offenses can have severe consequences, including fines, probation, and even imprisonment.

As experienced Kaufman County criminal defense attorneys, we’ve seen too many lives upended as a result of a drug arrest. However, an arrest isn’t the same thing as a conviction. Read on to learn more about the basics of drug possession laws in Texas, the potential penalties, and how a Kaufman County criminal defense attorney at Guest & Gray can help you strategically navigate the system towards the best possible result.

Understanding Drug Possession Charges in Kaufman County

Drug possession refers to the unlawful possession of controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Possession can be actual, where the drugs are found on your person, or constructive, where they are found in your vehicle, home, or any property under your control. Regardless of the quantity involved, drug possession is a serious offense and can result in criminal charges.

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The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect Americans and Texans from unreasonable searches and seizures performed in the course of a criminal investigation. Generally, evidence that has been seized by law enforcement in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be admitted in a criminal prosecution. This exclusionary rule encourages law enforcement officers to follow the constitution or else risk losing the opportunity to obtain a conviction for criminal conduct. There are exceptions to the Fourth Amendment, and it is possible for a defendant to be convicted upon evidence that was found after an illegal and unconstitutional search. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently reversed a lower appellate decision that had thrown out a man’s conviction for possession of methamphetamine based on an illegal search.

The defendant in the recently decided appeal was stopped by law enforcement for failing to have a valid registration for his vehicle. After the stop, the officer attempted to perform an investigative “pat-down” of the defendant, at which point the defendant resisted the officer. Based on the defendant’s resisting the search, he was placed under arrest, and methamphetamine was found at the arrest scene. The defendant was charged with drug possession. Before trial, the defendant attempted to suppress the drug evidence found at the scene of the arrest, arguing that the “pat-down” was not a constitutional search.

The trial court agreed that the search was not legal, however, they rejected the defendant’s motion nonetheless, determining that the defendant’s unlawful conduct of resisting the search was an independent crime that resulted in the drugs being seized.

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The United States Constitution protects Texans accused of crimes from being required to give any statement that could incriminate them. Under the Supreme Court precedent set by the case of Miranda v. Arizona, all criminal suspects or defendants must be advised that they have the right to remain silent and are not required to answer questions by law enforcement. If a suspect is questioned without being given a Miranda warning, incriminating statements made during questioning may not be used against the suspect in their prosecution. Although Miranda rights are enshrined in federal law, defendants still must make an objection to the admission of any evidence that was obtained in violation of Miranda. The Texas Court of Appeals recently addressed a defendant’s claim that he was illegitimately convicted of firearm and drug offenses because he was not given his Miranda rights prior to his making incriminating statements that were used in the trial against him.

The defendant in the recently decided case was stopped while driving a vehicle in Harris County. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant was stopped because a law enforcement officer ran his license plates, and the system showed that he had outstanding traffic warrants. After the stop, the defendant was advised to go to the courthouse with the arresting officer to pay the warrants and be released. As the defendant exited his car, the officer allegedly saw a small baggie that appeared to contain narcotics and questioned the defendant about the contents of the bag. Ultimately, the defendant admitted that the narcotics belonged to him, and also admitted that there was a firearm in the car. All of these statements were made by the defendant without him first being told his Miranda rights.

The defendant ultimately stood trial for possession of cocaine, as well as the illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Before trial, the defendant’s attorney moved the court to suppress the physical evidence obtained in the search based on a claim that the initial traffic stop was not justified. The defense motion was denied, and the defendant was convicted of the charges against him, in part because of the statements that he made claiming ownership of the illegal drugs and guns before his arrest.

In a recent Texas drug case, the defendant appealed the trial court decision, arguing that his conviction was the result of law enforcement violating his Fourth Amendment rights, evidence that should have been suppressed, and ineffective defense counsel. The defendant was convicted of a gram or less of methamphetamine, a state jail felony. The trial court then sentenced him to state jail for 12 months.

Facts of the Case

Law enforcement officers were directed by a dispatcher to a location with reported shots fired. There, witnesses described the shooter as wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. They stated that the man was walking northbound, pointing in the direction they saw him walking. A police officer began driving in the direction they pointed, and after a block or two, spotted the defendant. He detained the defendant, patted him down, and after finding nothing, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the patrol car. Without probable cause to arrest the defendant, the officer was about to release him when he asked for consent to search the defendant’s person. The officer had not told the defendant he was free to go. After receiving verbal consent, the officer conducted the search, finding a small packet of white substance in the defendant’s pocket. After field testing it, it came back positive for methamphetamine, and the defendant was arrested. After the arrest, the substance was sent for laboratory testing and determined to be methamphetamine.

The Appeal

Following the trial, the defendant presented three issues for appeal. (1) law enforcement violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, (2) the evidence discovered from the unlawful search should have been suppressed or excluded from the trial, and (3) at trial, the defense counsel was ineffective by failing to file a motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence and by failing to object to the introduction of the illegally obtained evidence. The appellate court found that the first two issues were not preserved for appeal as he never presented his complaint to the trial court and never asked the trial court to suppress or exclude the allegedly inadmissible evidence.

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In a recent Texas criminal case, the defendant appealed the trial court decision, arguing that his conviction was the result of discovery violations, and false evidence, and was based on insufficient evidence. The defendant was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in Penalty Group 2, in an amount greater than or equal to one gram but less than four grams. The trial court then sentenced him to six years of incarceration.

Facts of the Case

The defendant was arrested for possessing vape cartridges containing what law enforcement officers believed to be THC. Following his arrest, the officers sent the confiscated cartridges to a laboratory under contract with the State of Texas. Ultimately, evidence and testimony from members of the laboratory resulted in the successful conviction of the defendant by the State. In particular, the laboratory’s director, Kelly Wouters, played a vital role in the State’s case.

While Wouters testified as a surrogate witness for the work and analysis performed by other people in the laboratory, questioning by the State gave the impression that Wouters himself had performed certain aspects of the hands-on analysis and tasks. When pressed on the issue, Wouters stated that he was in charge of supervision for those tasks, though he admitted that he was not personally in a position to know if a worker was violating protocols. Additionally, Wouters attempted to establish through his testimony that he personally participated in the laboratory quality control measures when it came to the analysis of the evidence in this case. In fact, he was not present for the lab testing or the implementation of quality control measures when it came to the examination of evidence in this case. Additionally, the State did not identify the specific employees that conducted the laboratory analysis that Wouters claimed to be responsible for.

The defendant’s attorney emphasized the importance of the laboratory records to the State, but the existence of additional laboratory workers was revealed only just prior to the beginning of the trial and the State downplayed the role that those workers played in the testing process. Additionally, based on testimony by an expert witness called by the defendant, the 39-page laboratory packet provided by the State was “grossly insufficient” and “significantly lacking” when it came to making meaningful conclusions from the data. Finally, the State’s laboratory expert testified that due to chemical tendencies, the content within the pods would convert to the illegal THC that was being tested for.

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In a recent Texas drug case, the court of appeals affirmed the trial court decision, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, that the trial court’s denial of the motion for a new trial was not so clearly wrong as to lie outside that zone within which reasonable persons might disagree, and that the evidence presented was sufficient for the trial court to find appellant guilty of the charged offense. The appellant was charged with possessing two vape cartridges containing THC and entered a plea of not guilty and waived his right to a jury.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the appellant was encountered by police officers as they responded to a criminal trespass call from an L.A. Fitness location in August 2019. One of the police officers performed a consent search of the appellant’s personal property and discovered a small box containing two THC vape cartridges in his fanny pack. The labeling on the box indicated that the content was created with medical cannabis. The police officer took the evidence to the police station, where it was inventoried. Following the completion of a drug lab submission form, the evidence was sent to Armstrong Forensic Laboratory (Armstrong) for analysis. Armstrong was asked to test the fluid for controlled substances, including delta-9 THC, one of the isomers of THC. In Texas, a delta-9 THC concentration threshold of 0.3 percent distinguishes whether a substance is hemp, which is legal, or not. Dr. Kelly Wouters, Armstrong’s director, testified that the fluid in each vape cartridge tested positive for delta-9 THC above the threshold amount.

The State introduced into evidence a lab report prepared by Wouters and a case filed, which contained bench notes, raw analytical data, calibrations on quality control methods, and backstops to ensure the testing was performed correctly. The defense counsel questioned Wouters on cross-examination regarding a number of things, including the chain of custody for the evidence at Armstrong. Wouters testified that the case file did not include any chain of custody details, but the names of four or five individuals at the lab who could have touched the evidence and information regarding who received and analyzed the samples could be made available. The names were made available to the defense counsel, but no further questions were asked about the work performed and nobody else from the lab was called to testify. The trial court found the appellant guilty of THC possession as charged in the indictment and sentenced him to six years of confinement.

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In a recent drug case coming out of a Texas court, the defendant appealed his conviction of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. In the defendant’s argument, he emphasized the fact that when a local police officer stopped him on the road one evening, the officer prolonged the traffic stop unnecessarily. Thus, the trial court should have suppressed the incriminating evidence that the officer found during the stop. The higher court reviewed the law around searches and seizures but ultimately disagreed with the defendant, denying his appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving on the highway when a patrolling officer stopped him for not having a front license plate. The officer conducted a regular traffic stop, asking for the defendant’s driver’s license as well as his insurance information. Instead of a license, the defendant pulled out a Texas ID card and said that his license was “buried under tickets” somewhere in the car.

The defendant admitted a few minutes later that he did not actually have a driver’s license. Over the course of the defendant’s conversation with the officer, he provided jumbled responses when the officer inquired as to where the defendant was coming from and where he was headed. When the officer asked about the defendant’s previous arrests, the defendant mentioned one assault charge; however, upon conducting a computer check, the officer discovered that the defendant had other charges on his record for drug possession.

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