A potential consequence of a felony drug conviction

On Behalf of | Dec 26, 2023 | Drug Possession

Many Texas residents know that a felony drug conviction can damage their chances of getting a new job or renting a good apartment. Yet, few think that social services benefits will be affected. That’s not the case. You could face restrictions for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits.

How drug convictions affect Texas benefits

The laws governing social benefits and drug charges date to 1996 with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which imposed a lifetime ban on anyone with a drug conviction after that date from receiving SNAP or TANF benefits. PRWORA allows states to opt out of the ban, and while many have done so, Texas has not

Texas has a complete ban for TANF but a modified ban for SNAP. The latter means that Texas has a modified opt-out program that relies on court supervision that ends when the defendant’s sentence is discharged. This requirement means if you receive a drug conviction, you will not be able to apply for and receive SNAP benefits until after you have served the sentence for your drug charges. These conditions essentially impose supervision over defendants’ actions long after they have paid their debt to society.

How can I avoid a drug conviction?

Virtually any type of drug conviction will negatively affect your life. In many cases, with an aggressive criminal defense strategy, you may be able to get the charges dropped or reduced. If you have received a felony drug possession charge, you should try to do everything in your power to fight it. Convictions on such charges can mean years of imprisonment, plus the inability to get a decent job once you get out, along with the denial of some social services.

These potential difficulties can add up to a less-than-desirable life, which is why you need to do whatever you can to fight drug charges. Defenses that could work in your favor include violations of your civil rights, questions about who owned the drugs at the time of arrest and entrapment where law enforcement intentionally tries to get you to commit a crime.