Photo of a Man with Pills on the Table

May 17, 2023

According to a report by the Gulf Coast Addiction Technology Transfer Center, around 1.5% of all cases admitted to DSHS-funded treatment programs in early 2005 were abusing depressant drugs.

It’s also estimated that 0.2% of Texans over the age of 12 used sedatives. While these estimates trace back to 2002–2004, abuse of CNS depressants or “downers” is still a common issue today that drags along legal consequences.

In Texas, most of the popular downers fall under Penalty Group 3 (PG 3) in the Health and Safety Code. Even just being in possession of these controlled substances can leave a stain on your record with a Poss CS PG 3 charge.

What does that mean? Is it a felony or a misdemeanor? That’s what we discuss here.

What Does Poss CS PG 3 Mean?

Poss CS PG 3 is an abbreviation for “Possession of a Controlled Substance in Penalty Group 3,” which is usually a CNS depressant.

It’s an offense that violates section 481.117 of the Texas Health and Safety Code and is punishable by fines, jail time, or prison terms.

Depending on the amount, the Poss CS PG 3 could either be a felony, a state jail felony, or a misdemeanor.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession in Texas’ Penalty Group 3?

The law in Texas applies different punishments for possession of controlled substances in Penalty Group 3.

Aside from the intent, the amount of the confiscated drug also plays a huge role in the offense label, jail/prison term, and possible fines.

Let’s take a look at a rundown of the penalties associated with Poss CS PG 3 charges according to the aggregate (including diluents and adulterants) weight:

Less Than 28 Grams

Possession of anything under 28 grams of a Penalty Group 2 controlled substance isn’t a felony but rather a class A misdemeanor. In Texas, this offense can lead to a one-year sentence, up to $4,000 in fines, or both.

On the other hand, manufacturing or delivering less than 28 grams of PG 2 drugs is a state jail felony. This can mean 180 days to 2 full years of jail time and a fine that could go up to $10,000.

28–200 Grams

If the possessed amount is equal to or more than 28 grams but still below the 200-gram mark, then it’s considered a third-degree felony. In this case, the person could face 2–10 years of prison time and up to $10,000 in fines.

Meanwhile, possession with the intent to deliver the same amount is a felony of the second degree, not the third. Naturally, this applies to manufacturing charges as well.

200–400 Grams

It’s possible to face a second-degree felony just by possessing (without intent to deliver) a Penalty Group 3 substance if the amount is equal to or more than 200 grams (but still less than 400 grams). This offense pushes the prison time to a maximum of 20 years rather than 10.

As for manufacturing, delivering, and possession with the intent to deliver, those are considered first-degree felonies for 200 grams of PG 3 substances.

400 Grams or More

If someone is charged and convicted of possession of 400 grams or more, they’ll face a prison term of 5–99 years. Plus, they could also have to pay fines as steep as $50,000.

In cases of manufacturing and delivering PG 2 charges of 400 grams and more, the minimum prison time goes up to 10 years instead of 5. The maximum fine limit is also pushed to $100,000.

Interestingly, all the penalties associated with manufacturing and delivering PG 3 drugs in Texas are the same as those for PG 4. Yet, the possession penalties are not the same between the two groups.

Photo of Drugs and Syringes

What Are the Penalty Group 3 Drugs?

If you go over section 481.104 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, odds are you’ll recognize a lot of the names under Penalty Group 3, even without their trade names. After all, the list covers many of the popular sleeping aids, tranquilizers, and CNS depressants out there.

Since it would be hard to name every PG 3 controlled substance, let’s take a look at the most well-known drugs on the list:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta)
  • Phenmetrazine (Preludin)
  • Amobarbital
  • Secobarbital
  • Pentobarbital
  • Methohexital (an IV anesthetic)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Tramadol
  • Zolpidem (Ambien)
  • Zopiclone
  • Chloral hydrate
  • Hydrocodone (maximum 300 milligrams total or 15 milligrams per dosage unit) with non-narcotic active agents or a fourfold of an isoquinoline opium alkaloid
  • Codeine (maximum 1.8 grams total or 90 milligrams per dosage unit) with non-narcotic active agents or at least an equal amount of an isoquinoline opium alkaloid
  • Morphine (maximum 50 milligrams) with non-narcotic active agents

How Are Penalty Group 3 Drugs Different From Other Controlled Substances?

As you can tell, many of the drugs in Penalty Group 3 have legitimate medical uses. The full list even covers some illegal anabolic steroids. Yet, many of them have mid-level abuse potential.

This actually explains why Poss CS PG 3 charges don’t come with heavy penalties and legal consequences like the Poss CS PG 1 charges—those usually cover highly addictive substances like cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.

However, some controlled substances in Penalty Group 3 are also listed in different groups, like hydrocodone and codeine.

For instance, possession of hydrocodone can be either a Poss CS PG 1 or a Poss CS PG 2 charge. The classification here depends on a couple of factors:

  1. Amount of the controlled substance.
  2. Type and amount of other agents used in the pharmaceutical preparation.

It’s also worth mentioning that, unlike groups 1 and 2, Penalty Group 3 doesn’t have a subclassification. Meanwhile, you have PG 1-A and PG 2-A with specific drug lists.

Get Help For Your Defense Against a Penalty Group 3 Charge

Carrying less than 28 grams of Penalty Group 3 controlled substances is a class A misdemeanor, but it’s still possible to get a felony conviction for possession of larger amounts.

Call The Napier Law Firm at 713-470-4097 to hire a criminal defense lawyer to help with a Poss CS PG 3 charge today.