In late 2022, two individuals were arrested in connection with the overdose death of a Hays County student. The suspects, aged 16 and 20 years old, were brought up on criminal charges and are awaiting trial. The attorneys at Cofer & Connelly are discussing this case study to illustrate how drug charges are handled in Hays County and to provide a synopsis of the ongoing case involving the overdose death of a San Marcos student.
What Are The Charges?
The defendants in this case have been charged with three separate offenses: delivery of a controlled substance to a child, possession of a controlled substance, and manufacture and delivery with intent to distribute a controlled substance. These charges are serious crimes that carry significant penalties. On any of the charges alone, the defendants face significant fines and time in prison.
Drug Charges In Hays County
In Hays County, drug charges are serious offenses that are often prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Still, the sentence that a defendant may receive for a drug crime in Texas will depend on the type of drug, the amount of the drug, and the defendant’s prior criminal record. However, it is possible to be charged with a federal drug crime in Texas if certain conditions are met.
Critically, federal law requires judges who find defendants guilty of certain drug crimes to issue minimum mandatory sentences. This means that a judge does not have the discretion to lower the sentence and, at minimum, must hand out the punishment required by the law. In the Hays County fentanyl case, the defendants not only could be charged with state crimes, but they may also face federal charges due to the drugs in question possibly being transported over the border.
What’s Next For The Defendants?
The defendants in this case will, at some point, need to make their initial appearance in court. At this proceeding, they will be informed of the charges against them and be given an opportunity to enter their plea. They can either plead guilty, not guilty, or opt not to contest the charges (also known as a no-contest plea). If the defendants plead not guilty, then a determination on bail will be made where the prosecutor and their defense attorney will make arguments for or against bail being set.
At this stage, a defense attorney can make arguments concerning the defendant’s prior criminal history, age, circumstances surrounding their arrest, and potential danger to the community to try to convince the judge to set a low bail. Because the charges are non-violent in nature, the defendants may ultimately end up being released without bail or under house arrest.
Because this case involves serious felony charges, the defendants will likely have a preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing comes before a trial, and the purpose of this hearing is to see if there is enough evidence to warrant the case moving on to a full trial. In other words, at the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor will present evidence to show that it is likely that the defendants committed the crimes they are charged with and that the case should move on to a trial to determine guilt.
At this stage, a criminal defense attorney can question witnesses but is generally not allowed to present evidence or call their own witnesses. The defense attorney can poke holes in the prosecutor’s case and ask the judge to dismiss the charges due to insufficient evidence. In drug cases like this one, the defense attorney will likely try to trip up witnesses or challenge any evidence that is presented concerning the drugs that were seized.
If the charges are not dismissed at the preliminary hearing, then the case will move on to a trial. At trial, the prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants are guilty of what they have been charged with. Before the trial starts, the defense attorney can file motions to throw out evidence obtained by the police. In this case, one of the charges is possession of a controlled substance (also known as drugs).
To find the defendants guilty of possession, the prosecutor must show that the defendants knowingly had the drugs in their possession or control. A defense attorney could file a motion to throw out the seized drugs if the defendant’s rights were violated when they were arrested or searched. If the judge agrees with the defendant’s attorney, then the prosecution cannot use the evidence of the seized drugs to prove the defendants illegally possessed the drugs. If that happens, the possession charge will likely be dismissed.
Once all pre-trial motions have been heard, the trial will start. Again, in all criminal cases, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crimes they have been charged with. While the defense attorney can question witnesses and present evidence, they are not required to. It is the responsibility of the prosecutor to prove their case, and there is no obligation that the defendants present a defense. If there is any reasonable doubt that the defendants committed the crimes they have been charged with, the defendants must be acquitted. Still, if the judge or jury finds either or both of the defendants guilty, then they will be sentenced according to the guidelines set by the law controlling drug charges in Hays County.
Hays County Criminal Defense Attorneys
The defendants in this case are facing serious drug charges that carry significant penalties. Still, it is important to remember that all criminal defendants are innocent until they are proven guilty in a court of law. Cofer & Connelly believes in the presumption of innocence and fights hard to protect the rights of all of its clients.
While it is not always possible to secure a not guilty verdict, Cofer & Connelly will use all of its experience and expertise to better ensure that its clients receive the most favorable outcome possible. If you are facing drug possession charges in Hays County, you will need a Hays County possession lawyer on your side. Do not hesitate to reach out to Cofer & Connelly today by calling (512) 991-0576 or by contacting them online.
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