Gary Churak: I’m Gary Churak and I am an attorney in San Antonio, Texas. We are going to discuss San Antonio drug cases.
Interviewer: What counties does your legal practice cover?
Gary Churak: Basically, I cover everything from Travis County down to Laredo. I cover Central Texas to South Texas.
Interviewer: In the areas you cover, can you give us an overview of the type of drugs that are commonly found?
Gary Churak: It runs the gamut starting with marijuana, to the cocaine, heroin, and a lot of meth.
Interviewer: Is that a new thing, the meth thing?
Gary Churak: No, Meth has always been an issue, especially in the rural areas, because of the nature of making it. When making it you want a secluded rural area and there are enough of those types of areas out here making it a fairly lucrative little industry.
Interviewer: What are the most common drugs that you’re seeing?
Gary Churak: The most common drug is marijuana. You see Marijuana use by all different ages, from 60-year old hippies to high school kids.
Interviewer: What is the difference between a possession of a drug versus the intent to sell a drug?
Gary Churak: Basically, possession is when you have it in your personal possession and the amount you have is enough for personal consumption. You don’t have any scales, packaging material, or anything like that that may lead to the idea that you’re trying to sell or distribute the drugs.
Interviewer: In marijuana cases, is there a certain amount that would make the standard crime for possession of drugs change to a crime of intent to sell drugs?
Gary Churak: In Texas, no. For the crime of possession of drugs it is zero to two ounces is a Class B misdemeanor. Two to four ounces is a Class A misdemeanor. Four ounces to five pounds is a state jail felony. As you go up the ladder, based on how much you have, the offense gets to be more serious. Possession of five to fifty ounces is a third-degree felony and if with intent to distribute, it can make it a second-degree felony.
"Basically, it can start with having residue in your car. That can be possession of marijuana. In Texas, smoked joint with a little bit left burned in it, is possession of marijuana."
Interviewer: At what point does possession of marijuana become a federal case?
Gary Churak: It can become a federal case at any time, but for the most part the feds do not enforce marijuana cases unless it’s major, major amounts. If you’ve got a ton of marijuana in the back of a semi, the feds may be interested, otherwise they’re not interested and they’re not doing anything about it. There are states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes or recreational purposes, which is against federal law, yet the feds are not doing anything about it. The feds don’t really care about marijuana.
Interviewer: Are marijuana cases handled the same as a cocaine case or heroin case?
Gary Churak: No, for the most part it’s looked at less seriously by the courts unless it’s a major distribution issue. You have a better chance of getting probation on a marijuana case than you would in a cocaine or heroin situation. They treat those drugs more seriously than marijuana possession.