Can a Gummy Ruin Your Life?
Gummy bears are cute. Gummy bears are tasty. And if you possess a gummy bear with THC in Texas, really bad things can happen to you.
Yes, I'm talking about one gummy bear. Or one THC Cookie. Or one of some other kind of marijuana edible that you bought somewhere where it was "completely legal."
If you're in Texas, terrible things can happen to you, because THC Edibles are illegal in Texas. Possessing them is a crime.
All of the bad things that can happen to you criminally are beyond my expertise. I'm not a Criminal Law Expert – I'm a Family Law Expert. I can tell you about the bad things that can happen to you in your Divorce or Custody case in Texas by having a single THC gummy bear or other edible.
1. You can lose your kids. I've written on this before – and you can find the post here – so I won't repeat all of it here. But the short version is this: In addition to losing your kids because you can go to prison, and they don't let you have possession of your children while in prison, a Judge can terminate all of your access to your children simply because you are engaged in criminal drug activity. That means that the Judge can put an order in place that prevents you from possessing, seeing, talking to, writing to, or having any contact with your children.
2. Less Money. You have less money to divide in your divorce, and there's a decent chance that all of the money spent defending yourself on the criminal charges will be put on your side of the ledger. Meaning, if it costs you $20,000.00 to defend yourself on the Felony charges, and you are ordered to pay a $10,000.00 fine, and you have another $5,000.00 in associated expenses for things like expert witnesses, investigators, probation fees, etc., the Judge can give your spouse the first $35,000.00 of your marital estate off the top, to make up for the amount you had to spend on your criminal matter.
If the cost to defend yourself and other associated costs equal $100,000.00 or more, then that amount may go on your spouse's side of the ledger. And since having a one-pound package of THC Cookies may lead to a First Degree Felony charge – for which you may be facing life in prison -- $100,000.00+ in total costs may be what you're looking at.
3. The Judge may give your spouse a Disproportionate Share of the Estate. Your criminality may be used against you by the court in making a disproportionate division of your estate. That is, the Judge – who is the one dividing your estate if you don't settle your case – may decide to give your spouse more of your property because he or she may consider your activities to be fault or quasi-fault grounds in the break-up of the marriage.
So if your 401K is worth $1Million and your spouse's IRAs total $500,000.00, the court may give your spouse $1Million and you $500,000.00 by dividing the estate 2/3 to1/3 in your spouse's favor.
4. Losing your kids can lead to more child support. If you end up with less time with your children as a result of criminal conduct, not only is there the infinite cost of missing out on the time that you will never get back, the court may order you to pay above-guideline child support. That's an Order for more support than you would normally pay since you will not be providing as much in-kind support as you would if you had your children on a typical, balanced schedule.
5. Spousal Support can be affected. Wasting part of your community estate on drugs and criminal defense costs can be considered by the court when setting Spousal Maintenance (what most people call Alimony), if your spouse otherwise qualifies for it. While it is true that you being involved in criminal activity may not make your spouse qualified to receive Spousal Maintenance under Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code, if your spouse qualifies, the codes states this regarding how the amount is to be set:
Sec. 8.052. FACTORS IN DETERMINING MAINTENANCE. A court that determines that a spouse is eligible to receive maintenance under this chapter shall determine the nature, amount, duration, and manner of periodic payments by considering all relevant factors, including:
(1) each spouse's ability to provide for that spouse's minimum reasonable needs independently, considering that spouse's financial resources on dissolution of the marriage;
(2) the education and employment skills of the spouses, the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking maintenance to earn sufficient income, and the availability and feasibility of that education or training;
(3) the duration of the marriage;
(4) the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance;
(5) the effect on each spouse's ability to provide for that spouse's minimum reasonable needs while providing periodic child support payments or maintenance, if applicable;
(6) acts by either spouse resulting in excessive or abnormal expenditures or destruction, concealment, or fraudulent disposition of community property, joint tenancy, or other property held in common;
(7) the contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(8) the property brought to the marriage by either spouse;
(9) the contribution of a spouse as homemaker;
(10) marital misconduct, including adultery and cruel treatment, by either spouse during the marriage; and
(11) any history or pattern of family violence, as defined by Section 71.004.
As stated at the beginning of the code section, this list is non-exclusive, and the court can consider "all relevant factors."
So, there you have it – 5 ways that one THC gummy bear can ruin your Family Law case and help ruin your life.
In case you think I'm exaggerating, please go to this link and watch a short video put out by the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office.
And remember, this article has nothing to do with what the law may be in the future or what anyone thinks the law should be. All of the above is true simply because the law is what it is.