Defense of Houston Drug Charges a Matter of Substance and Law


Texas criminal defense attorneyIn January 2012, police arrested a man for aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to seven years of incarceration. This conviction has now been overturned. The reason a judge overturned it: the man did not actually have any scheduled drugs in his possession.

The case is an important one because it shows that prosecutors sometimes stretch to make a case even when the drug law does not clearly make a certain behavior criminal. Because the consequences of a conviction for drug crimes are so severe, it is essential that defendants are represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston to protect against prosecutorial overreach and unjust convictions.

Drug Crime Case With No Drugs

The incident began when a neighbor made a call to police about suspicious activity upstairs. Police arrived at the scene to find a man with glass containers omitting fumes. Evacuation of the home was ordered and an investigation began.

The investigation revealed an illegal cookbook called “Uncle Fester’s Synthetic Manual,” which contains recipes for creating narcotic substances such as methamphetamine. Also found were the majority of ingredients necessary to produce meth.

Based on the fact that the evidence showed the defendant was in the process of creating methamphetamine, prosecutors charged the defendant with drug trafficking. This was instead of a more suitable criminal charge: attempted trafficking in scheduled drugs. The man may have been trying to make meth but he had not succeeded and thus had no controlled substance in his possession

Although the defendant’s argument was not initially successful, a judge overturned the man’s conviction because the judge believed a person could not prepare, process or traffic a scheduled drug unless that narcotic was ultimately present. Since no methamphetamine was actually produced, there could be no trafficking.

With the defendant’s conviction set aside, he was released from incarceration and is currently free to move on with life. However, prosecutors may now pursue a claim for “attempted trafficking in scheduled drugs.” This is a less serious crime but could still result in incarceration. There is no guarantee the prosecutor would win even on charges of attempted trafficking, since the man had some but not all of the ingredients that are necessary to produce meth. Without all of the ingredients, it could be argued that there was no serious attempt to produce the drug.

Drugs produced at home tend to complicate enforcement of drug laws since it may not be clear exactly what point basic ingredients actually cross the line and becomes illegal.  The new development of the drug culture has led to many grey areas. In addition to the issue of meth, for example, the federal government has also been having difficulty creating an effective bans on drugs like synthetic marijuana and bath salts where just one ingredient can be changed to make the product legal again without affecting the mind-altering impact of the substance.

Contact Joseph LaBella & Associates today at 800-395-5951 to speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Houston. 

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