Can a passenger be charged if drugs are found in the vehicle? Yes, it does happen frequently, however, there is usually not enough evidence to convict the passenger. A common example of a passenger getting arrested for drugs in the vehicle would be at a traffic stop. In this situation, the officer may find marijuana under the seat but then nobody in the car admits to possessing the marijuana. The officer may then charge whoever they want for possession. In this case, they may arrest whoever is sitting closest to the drugs or may charge both. However, a seasoned drug lawyer could argue that the officer did not have enough evidence because the officer must be able to prove that the defendant intentionally or knowingly possessed the drugs. The fact that the drugs are in the same car as a person does not prove that the person was possessing it even if the person is the only one in the car.
In Texas, drug crimes are taken very seriously which is why drug penalties are so severe. Drug possession of a Penalty Group I controlled substance such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine of less than one gram is a state jail felony and it carries the consequences of 180 days to up to two years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. Possession of one to four grams of one of these substances is a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony carries two to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Possession of four to 200 grams is a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by two to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Can a passenger be charged if drugs are found in the vehicle? Yes, and they could be facing felony possession charges, which carry significant penalties.
There are alternative punishments for first-time drug offenders in Texas such as drug courts, diversion programs, and rehabilitation programs. These options can ultimately result in dismissal and possibly even the expunction of the records. An experienced criminal defense lawyer is familiar with all these programs and how they could help you. Sometimes the alternative punishment programs are a good option and other times they are not. An attorney is going to explore all options and keep the defendant’s best interest in mind when deciding if the program is a good idea or not. If you have more questions about alternative punishments and if a passenger can be charged with drugs found in the vehicle, contact an attorney today.