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San Antonio Criminal Law Blog

Texas traffic stop leads to felony drug charges

Two men are facing felony drug charges after police allegedly discovered more than 8 pounds of marijuana during a July 2 traffic stop. The 28-year-old and 27-year-old Houston residents are said to have been on their way to Louisiana when a Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper pulled over their car on U.S. Highway 59 in Angelina County at approximately 12:15 p.m. Reports indicate that a significant quantity of pills and about 50 grams of a controlled liquid were also found in the vehicle.

According to a TDPS report, the men's car was initially pulled over for a motor vehicle violation. The trooper involved called in a K9 unit after becoming suspicious while questioning the man behind the wheel. However, police reports and media accounts do not indicate what led the trooper to believe that drugs were hidden in the vehicle.

Hate crime charges may lead to more severe penalties

In Texas and around the country, people who are charged with offenses such as arson or murder may have hate crimes charges added if law enforcement authorities believe that they were motivated by bias. Hate crimes are prosecuted under federal law and may result in enhanced penalties.

According to the FBI, these offenses occur when people commit crimes against others because of their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or color. If there is evidence that the perpetrators were motivated by bias, they may be prosecuted for both the underlying offenses as well as hate crimes charges.

Several suspects arrested in West Texas drug conspiracy

Federal Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency along with officers from Brownfield Police and Texas Department of Public Safety coordinated raids across the South Plains and West Texas on the morning of June 21. The operation was related to a series of investigations involving the distribution of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana. More than a dozen individuals were arrested in the process.

The day following the raids, the suspects appeared in federal court to face the charges against them. The charges ranged from conspiracy to possess and distribute illegal narcotics to the smuggling of bulk sums of cash. Details about the investigation that lead to these arrests and indictments have not been released by federal authorities. Their only comment is that the raid is part of a long-term operation.

Republican Party of Texas adopts pro marijuana platform

Large majorities of delegates voted in favor of marijuana decriminalization, expansion of medical cannabis and hemp production at the recent Texas Republican convention. The group also called on Congress to remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 list of controlled substances.

These positions represent a substantial change from the views held by the state's current Republican leadership. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz opposes marijuana legalization. He will face a Democrat proponent of legalization in the next election. In addition, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions has blocked floor votes about cannabis reform for years.

Is legalization of recreational marijuana soon to come in Texas? Texas GOP backs that idea.

Texas presently operates under the Compassionate Use Act. Governor Greg Abbott signed this bill into law in 2015, and although it does allow for some medical marijuana use in the Lone Star State, there are plenty of limitations. 

Although recreational marijuana is still illegal in the state, that could very well change in the near future. The 2018 Texas Republican Convention recently wrapped up. Republicans throughout the state debated which policies they would fight for going forward, and for the first time at the convention, conservatives backed support for legalizing marijuana in the state. Not only will more Texas Republicans seek to decriminalize marijuana; they will also fight more to see that industrial hemp no longer classifies as a Schedule 1 drug. 

Actor faces multiple criminal charges

Texas residents who are fans of actor Vince Vaughn may have heard that he was taken into custody for DUI on June 10. He was stopped at a checkpoint about 12:30 a.m. between Hermosa and Manhattan Beach. After being taken into custody, he was sent to Manhattan Beach Jail before being released. In addition to the DUI, he was also charged with resisting efforts to take him into custody.

Authorities clarified that there was no use of force, but it was determined that Vaughn tried to delay the investigation. Another person in the vehicle with Vaughn at the time of the traffic stop was also taken into custody and charged with obstruction as well as being intoxicated in public. There were no details given as to why officers believed the men were drunk. There also were no details given as to the bail paid by either man to be released from custody.

Man sentenced to 65 years following conviction on drug charges

A Texas man was sentenced to 65 years in prison on May 31 after he was convicted on possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The 36-year-old man reportedly had five previous felony convictions, leading him to be charged as a habitual offender. He was sentenced by a jury following 90 minutes of deliberation.

The charges the man was convicted on were identical to federal charges he had pleaded guilty to in 2014. As a result of those federal charges, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was brought from federal prison to Waco for the three-day trial. Although the prosecutors asked that the prison sentence be stacked onto his federal sentence, meaning he would only begin to serve the 65 years once his federal prison term was up, the judge ordered that the sentences be served concurrently.

How one Texas city handles marijuana possession

In one Texas city, starting on Dec. 1, 2017, people who would have been taken to jail for marijuana possession in the past are now cited and released. From Dec. 1 to May 7, there were 56 citations in Dallas. Of those people cited, 24 were Hispanic and 27 were black.

A traffic stop was the first point of contact with police in around 45 percent of the cases. The next most common was a call for service at 29 percent. Just 10 contacts that resulted in citations were initiated by police while five occurred because of a report through the city's system for drug complaints.

CBD products may soon be banned in Texas

Your interest in alternative, natural medicine may have led you to try CBD oil, an oil derived from the hemp plant. Because hemp is related to cannabis, there may be trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient that is present in marijuana, although CBD oil does not cause a "high." You may be interested to learn that the Texas Department of State Health Services is considering a statewide ban on CBD oil and products containing CBD.

Because CBD oil is distantly related to marijuana, people have had misconceptions surrounding the substance. They may falsely assume that if you use products containing CBD oil, you are a drug addict or into drug culture, and that the oil is dangerous and can have intoxicating effects. However, CBD proponents make the following claims about the oil:

  • It is safe to use and does not intoxicate or cause hallucinations.
  • People use CBD oil to manage chronic pain, seizures, anxiety and other conditions.
  • It is not habit-forming, unlike prescription opioids.
  • Parents have used CBD oil to manage their children's seizures.
  • Veterans, low-income families and others who may have limited access to health care rely on CBD oil to manage their pain and other symptoms of serious conditions.

Information about larceny

Larceny is a non-violent crime where someone takes another person's property without using force. In the state of Texas, it's also considered larceny to buy or take a stolen good if the recipient doesn't take some kind of action to prove it's not stolen. This offense has a wide range of severity levels from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony depending on the amount stolen and other circumstances.

In order for a person to be convicted of larceny, it must be proven that the offender unlawfully took another person's property without their consent and with no intent to return the goods at a later date. Therefore, larceny doesn't apply to things like banks repossessing property, a person retrieving an item they lent out or an individual taking an item they intend to return.

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