Arrested for a felony drug possession how long does the prosecution have to indict?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “If I was charged with a felony drug charge in Texas how long does the grand jury have to indict?”

Illegal drug charges may be classified as misdemeanors, a minor charge, or felonies, a more serious charge. Whether or not an individual will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony can depend on several factors: the type of drug (i.e., whether it is a Schedule I or Schedule V drug), whether there were other crimes involved, whether there was intent to sell, where the possession occurred, and other aggravating factors (i.e., is the alleged a repeat offender or was a minor present at the time of the arrest).

Factors leading to an indictment after a drug charge

The user established that she had already been charged with felony drug possession so it’s safe to assume one of the factors listed above was present. The next question is, “How does the grand jury decide whether or not to indict after a drug arrest?”

In the state of Texas, all felonies are charged by an indictment in front of a grand jury. To receive an indictment the prosecutor will have to present evidence to the court and establish probable cause that a drug offense occurred. If the prosecutor is unable to establish their case, the grand jury will issue a no bill, which is a refusal to indict the defendant.

After the grand jury hears testimony against the defendant, including witness testimony, if they decide there is enough evidence and probable cause has been established, they will issue a true bill, allowing the defendant to be indicted.

How long until I am indicted for a felony conviction?

To find out the statute of limitations for crimes in Texas it’s best to go to the legal source- the Code of Criminal Procedure. And although it is a bit convoluted and full of “legal speak,” laws pertaining to the statute of limitations for crimes can be found in Chapter 12- Limitation.

Unfortunately, legal questions never have a simple answer. For example, if you have committed murder there is no time limit for an indictment. For other felony crimes such as theft of any estate, forgery, certain types of sexual assaults, arson, and compelling prostitution, the grand jury must issue an indictment within 10 years from the date of the commission of the offense.

Other felonies must be indicted with seven years (i.e., misapplication of fiduciary property or property of a financial institution; money laundering; credit card or debit card abuse under Section 32.31, Penal Code; and   Medicaid fraud under Section 35A.02, Penal Code).

Still others must be indicted within five years from the date of the commission of the crime, including theft, robbery, and abandoning or endangering a child, and insurance fraud.

For all other felonies the indictment must be issued within 3 years from the date of the commission of the crime.

Felony drug charges and time to indict

So to answer the user’s question, the state has three years from the date of the commission of the crime to issue an indictment for felony drug possession, assuming there are no additional charges (i.e., murder).

So what do you do if you get a grand jury letter?

If you receive a grand jury letter you need to call a criminal lawyer immediately. Although you do not have the legal right to attend the hearing or testify on your behalf, in some cases, the prosecutor may also allow you to testify in front of the grand jury or your attorney may have the right to submit information to the grand jury to persuade them not to indict.

Finally, in some districts the district attorney may not even negotiate with you at the grand jury phase if you do not have a criminal lawyer due to the complexity of the negotiation process.

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