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San Antonio Criminal Law Blog

Common reason for false drug charges

Drug-related charges remain a leading cause for fines and jail time in Texas and across the United States. An Arkansas case sheds some unsettling light on how these charges are sometimes erroneous, and it serves as a warning to motorists about taking steps to avoid them.

InMay 2016, a man and a woman driving a truck and making a delivery to an Army base were inspected by authorities at the gates. The two men commonly purchased bulk amounts of baking soda, which they kept in unmarked plastic bags in their truck. Inspectors suspected the bags contained cocaine. Their suspicions were confirmed by multiple tests with an inexpensive roadside kit. The two were held for two months in jail on drug possession charges. This was disastrous for their business and personal lives, and it took them quite a while to recover.

Texas and the decriminalization of marijuana

Texas may follow the route of the several states that legalized marijuana in the 2016 elections. In addition, the newly-elected Harris County district attorney announced plans to decriminalize marijuana after taking office. She explained that she did not want to incarcerate non-violent offenders, especially those who committed marijuana-related offenses. Texas state lawmakers have announced six bills related to regulating marijuana. Most of the bills focus on reducing punishments for individuals found with small quantities of marijuana in their possession.

House Bill 58 would create a specialty court for those who have been found with marijuana in their possession for the first time, freeing up law enforcement resources for other matters. House Bill 81 would impose civil fines rather than criminal penalties for those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana. House Bill 82 classifies the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana as a Class C rather than a Class B misdemeanor. Senate Joint Resolutions 17 and 18 allow voters to decide whether they wish to legalize recreational and medical marijuana respectively.

Five Bills That Could Change Texas Marijuana Laws Next Year

On November 8, 2016, California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts voters approved recreational marijuana initiatives. This move added them to the expanding list of states, including Washington and Colorado, that have already authorized marijuana for recreational purposes.

A few weeks after these approvals, some Lone Star State legislators are seeking to do the same. On the first day of filing the bills for the 2017 legislative session, Texas lawmakers submitted various proposals to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The problems of marijuana testing in DWI cases

Most Texans are likely aware of the many states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. The legalization of marijuana in those states has led to questions about how to properly test for it when a person is driving.

While research and a body of law backing up testing for alcohol impairment levels exist, marijuana affects every person differently. This means that there is not one single amount that can be said to reliably impair an individual's driving. Another issue is that tests look for metabolites that are present in a person's blood or urine. With marijuana, metabolites can be present for several weeks after a person ingests it, meaning that tests may show metabolites when the person is not impaired at all.

Ex-Cowboy charged with cocaine possession

Former Dallas Cowboy Greg Hardy was pulled over for a traffic stop in Richardson, Texas, on Sept. 26 and accused of carrying cocaine. A felony drug charge for cocaine possession was filed against Hardy six weeks after the incident. Court records indicate that the 28-year-old NFL free agent is accused of possessing a baggie containing .7 grams of cocaine.

Given the amount of cocaine that was allegedly found during the incident, Hardy could be facing a maximum sentence of two years in prison along with a fine of up to $10,000 if he is convicted. Police who conducted the traffic stop found the baggie when they performed a search of Hardy's vehicle. It is unclear what led to the traffic stop.

2 men facing felony drug charges after traffic stop

Two men in Texas were charged with felonies on Oct. 25 after a traffic stop led to a search and seizure. The incident began just before 3 p.m. when police officers in Nash pulled a man over for a traffic stop. Police say that the driver was in possession of codeine and less than one pound of marijuana.

The accused man was handed a felony drug charge for possessing marijuana and a felony drug charge for possessing a controlled substance in penalty group 1. After the traffic stop, police visited a residence nearby where the accused man's child was being looked after by another man.

Four reasons not to say anything to the police after a DUI or drug arrest

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal for good reason: It's dangerous. Alcohol and drugs can impair your judgment and reaction times, often resulting in accidents. For this reason, police and highway patrol officers are always on the lookout for drivers who might be under the influence. If you get pulled over and arrested, you could be in very big trouble, and you must be careful about how you act and what you say. If you're not, you could destroy any hope you had of winning your case in court.

Agree now and lose your right to challenge

If an officer arrests you for acting drunk or high, he or she might ask to search your car. If you agree to let the officer do that, you will not be able to challenge anything about the search should you wind up in court. Anything the officer finds or smells can be used against you. You won't be able to claim that the officer had any malicious intent, either.

Texas man allegedly tried to take Taser from cop

According to law enforcement authorities with the El Paso Police Department, a 35-year-old man who possessed cocaine reportedly tried to take a police officer's Taser during an arrest. The incident happened following a traffic stop on Oct. 21 at 2 a.m.

Police reported that the man was driving at 66 mph in a 50 mph zone in the 1500 block of Zaragoza before he was pulled over. A DWI Task Force officer found that the man was allegedly intoxicated. He attempted to take the 35-year-old man into custody.

Defining computer fraud

Fraud is an attempt to deceive others or gain information that may be used to harm them. When such activities are conducted through electronic means, it is generally referred to as computer fraud. Examples of computer fraud in Texas and around the country may include sending spam or hoax emails asking for individuals to send money or installing spyware on their devices. Those who use another person's computer without consent may also be engaging in this type of fraud.

Those who intentionally commit computer fraud may be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. For example, someone who creates a chain letter that contains a virus designed to harm another device may face both types of penalties. However, someone who accidentally forwards a message containing a virus is generally not guilty of fraud because there was no intent to harm another person or device.

ACLU report highlights the need for drug law reform

Drug possession is a common criminal charge in the U.S., and more than 1.25 million people are taken into custody for possession every year, a number that many civil rights organizations believe is far too high. An October 2016 report, released jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, has sparked a new debate regarding the importance of drug law reform. The report focused on incarcerated individuals in four states, including Texas, who were serving lengthy sentences for simple drug possession.

In 2015, more people were incarcerated for marijuana possession than several violent offenses, including rape, murder, aggravated assault and robbery, combined, according to the report. This high number is costly both to states and to the individuals who have been convicted on drug charges. Individuals with a drug possession charge on their record, especially a felony, often lose employment and future work opportunities as well as eligibility for social programs such as student aid and public benefits like food stamps.

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