Cite and Release

Many states across the nation began reducing the number of marijuana possession arrests over the past couple of years, and several cannabis users took comfort in knowing they might get tickets instead of being arrested for simple possession offenses. While some law enforcement agencies in Texas now issue tickets for possession of four ounces or less of marijuana, anybody facing these types of charges should still seek the help of a Denton cite and release attorney.

The program that is being utilized is better known as cite and release, but the program still involves certain consequences for alleged offenders. Tickets for marijuana possession can involve penalties that are more serious than traditional traffic tickets, and alleged offenders may still face misdemeanor charges in certain cases that might include significant fines and possible jail sentences.

Law Offices of Richard C McConathy cite and release Banners

Cite and Release Defense Lawyer in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, TX

If you received a citation instead of being arrested in Denton, you will need to find yourself legal presentation. Our firm has vast experience with cite and release cases and knows how to help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your case.

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (940) 222-8004 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas.

Elements of Cite and Release Offenses in Texas

According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, and San Marcos are among the cities that are now using cite and release policies, while Tarrant County, Bexar County, and Nueces County are among the counties in Texas also using it. With a cite and release program, an alleged marijuana offender will receive a ticket instead of being arrested for possession of four ounces or less of marijuana, but they can still face immediate arrest if they do not comply with law enforcement officers.

Under Texas law, when an alleged offender fails to do any of the following, they can be arrested for marijuana possession:

  • Fail to provide identification (ID)
  • Have outstanding warrants
  • Refuse to sign a ticket or demand to see a magistrate
  • Not being a Texas resident
  • Being suspected of a more serious offense
  • Being intoxicated to a level that police decide the alleged offender presents a danger to themselves or others
 

An arrest or a ticket concerning marijuana possession of four ounces or less is typically a misdemeanor offense. A cite and release policy is a directive to law enforcement officers to issue citations, tickets, or warnings for some low-level offenses instead of making arrests.

Current state law establishes that utilizing cite and release is an option, but it is not necessarily mandatory. With a cite and release program, alleged offenders receive citations instead of being arrested and sent to jail, and they also receive a summons to report to specific locations at later dates to handle their criminal charge(s).

An officer may also issue a warning and let a person go without writing a citation. The goals of cite and release programs include reducing racial disparities in policing and arrests, reducing the number of overall arrests, eliminating discretionary arrests for some low-level offenses, decreasing the arrest-to-deportation pipeline, increasing data transparency between local law enforcement agencies and the public, and institutionalizing community involvement in policy making and implementation.

A citation or ticket will be better than an arrest because it not only avoids the harmful effects of an arrest but when it concerns COVID-19, an arrest also means a higher chance of infection or even death for both an officer and an alleged offender. A strong cite and release policy has a clear directive to police officers to issue citations, tickets, or warnings instead of making arrests, with only limited disqualifying circumstances, involves a data transparency mandate such as regular public data reports on the use of cite and release, including demographic information of individuals affected, have robust and regular forum for community input in the implementation of the policy, create an accountability mechanism if officers violate the policy, take form as an ordinance, not an administrative policy, include all eligible offenses, and involve a pre-charge diversion element allowing for alleged offenders who are cited to participate in diversion programs and avoid any arrest, criminal charges, contact with courts, and potentially harmful effects of a criminal record.

Citation-eligible offenses can include all Class C Misdemeanors (except for public intoxication) and certain Class A and Class B Misdemeanors, such as:

  • Possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana
  • Possession of less than 4 ounces of Penalty Group 2-A controlled substances (such as synthetic marijuana)
  • Criminal mischief with damage up to $750
  • Theft of up to $750 in property
  • Theft of up to $750 in services
  • Driving with an invalid license
  • Graffiti
  • Contraband in a Correctional Facility
 

Marijuana Ticket Penalties in Denton, TX

Make no mistake, cite and release offenses relating to marijuana possession are still criminal offenses. While receiving a ticket might feel more like a traffic citation, you will still be facing Class A or Class B misdemeanor charges.

Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.121, drug possession penalties are based on quantities of drugs. Possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor.

Class B misdemeanor convictions will be punishable by either or both of the following:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Fine of up to $2,000
 

Possession of two ounces or more up to four ounces of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by either or both of the following:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fine of up to $4,000
 

Possession of more than four ounces of marijuana usually results in an actual arrest and possible felony charges. Felony marijuana possession penalties can include:

  • 4 ounces to 5 pounds — State jail felony punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • 5 to 50 pounds — Third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • 50 to 2,000 pounds — Second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • More than 2,000 pounds — First-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000
 

Alleged offenders apprehended while possessing large amounts of cash, possessing paraphernalia such as scales or packaging material, possessing more drugs than are necessary for individual use, possessing a chemical lab, possessing weapons or guard dogs, possessing equipment necessary to transport drug manufacturing materials, or possessing the chemicals needed to manufacture a controlled substance can face possession with intent to distribute charges, and such encounters frequently will result in arrests. Criminal penalties may also be enhanced in these cases.

Even misdemeanor convictions can still carry damaging long-term consequences. Misdemeanor charges might negatively impact your own professional goals, personal relationships, and educational endeavors.

Denton County Cite and Release Resources

Texas Criminal Justice Coalition (TCJC) Fact Sheet HB 1388 (Cite and Release) — This TCJC document states that the 10 Texas counties with the largest jail populations had jails operating at a high capacity (74 percent on average). It also says current cite and release policies are reducing arrests, providing a safe model for expansion. Over the first year that Bexar County implemented cite and release, 2,500 people were cited rather than arrested, 4,249 officer hours were saved, and over $2 million were saved in booking and prosecution costs alone.

Why We Should Advocate for Cite and Release in Texas | ILRC — According to this article, Texas state law has allowed for law enforcement agencies to issue citations or tickets instead of making arrests for certain low-level offenses for more than 13 years, but the practice was severely underutilized throughout the state. Arrests for citation-eligible offenses in Austin decreased by over 60 percent since the city’s cite and release resolution was passed in 2018. The article also notes that cite and release intends to mitigate racial profiling in policing and avoid the harmful effects of arrests, such as deportation, job loss, and barriers to finding employment and housing.

Find A Denton County Defense Attorney for Cite and Release Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

If you received a citation for marijuana possession or another misdemeanor offense in the greater Denton County area, do not think that the ticket is an easy matter to resolve because you can still be facing significant criminal penalties. You will want to retain legal counsel for the best chance of overcoming your criminal charges.

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (940) 222-8004 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas.