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San Antonio Criminal Law Blog

Bill seeks to reduce penalties for small marijuana possession

There is no doubt that marijuana use is a hot top in the Texas Legislature this year. Following a nationwide trend, there are nearly 60 proposed bills in the statehouse currently related to marijuana in one form or another. They include bills dealing with cannabis for medicinal use and testing for use to obtain public benefits.

One bill has seen support is a proposal to decriminalize the possession of smaller amounts. Currently, possession of an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense and a conviction could bring a hefty fine and jail time. Under the bill, the penalty would be reduced to the seriousness of a traffic offense. It would not count as a criminal conviction on a person's record and the person would not be arrested.

No, you do not have to talk to police

Few things can be more intimidating than sitting across from a police investigator in an interrogation room. After all, law enforcement officers receive training on how to get criminal suspects to talk. If officers have arrested you on suspicion of drug possession, what you say or do not say matters. 

Before prosecutors take a case to court, they usually must have enough evidence to secure a conviction. Evidence comes in a variety of types, but incriminating statements are often the best sort. The U.S. Constitution protects you against self-incrimination. For that reason, officers must advise you of your right to remain silent when they take you into custody. Here are some tips for staying silent.

Citing Pedestrian Safety, the Pearl Bans Electric Scooters

The Pearl quietly outlawed electric scooters last week.

Rentable electric vehicles have become ubiquitous over the past six months with companies such as Bird, Lime, Razor, and Uber licensed to operate as many as 14,000 e-scooters and e-bikes, with about two-thirds of those vehicles deployed on a given day. After months of conversations about scooters, the Pearl's property managers decided to bar e-scooters from the center of redeveloped brewery complex, with pedestrian safety factoring heavily into the decision, said Jennifer Chowning, a spokeswoman for the Pearl. Scooters are not allowed in the area bounded by West Josephine Street, Avenue A, Newell Avenue, and East Elmira Street.

"We just decided, as we're really trying to shift to more of a pedestrian-centric zone, that the scooters were becoming problematic," Chowning said. "We really want to be protective of the pedestrian - the people that come to this space that don't want to be worried about being run over from behind by a 16-year-old."

New Braunfels police ban electric scooters for 90 days, will cite those caught riding them

New Braunfels police on Wednesday issued a 90-day ban on commercial electric scooters in the city and will cite anyone caught using one with a Class C misdemeanor, city officials announced.

The temporary order was issued by Assistant Chief of Police Joe Vargas in an effort to address the scooter issue through "proper channels of city government," according to a statement from David Ferguson, the communications coordinator for the City of New Braunfels.

Austin Records First Traffic Death Involving Rented Scooter

A crash last week killed a 21-year-old scooter rider, the Austin Police Department says. The department says it's the first death related to a rented scooter in Austin.

Police say Mark Sands was riding a Lime scooter on the wrong side of the I-35 southbound frontage road at around 1 a.m. Friday near the on-ramp at Fifth Street. An Uber driver traveling in the right lane changed lanes and hit him. Police say the driver stayed on the scene and is cooperating.

Texas school superintendent arrested for marijuana possession

The superintendent of a Texas public school system was recently arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. The incident took place near Waco on March 7.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the defendant, who is the superintendent of the Waco Independent School District, was pulled over by a state trooper on U.S. 190 in Robertson County at around 10 p.m. The reason given for the stop was driving in the passing lane without passing. When the trooper approached his vehicle, he claimed that he could smell the odor of marijuana, which he said provided him probable cause to perform a search. During the search, the trooper allegedly found less than 2 ounces of marijuana in the defendant's possession.

Legislators reconsider penalties for marijuana possession

Despite growing trends toward cannabis legalization across the country, many people in Texas are still facing severe recriminations after convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana. In the past five years, around 379,000 Texans have been arrested and charged with possession of 2 ounces or less of cannabis. One woman was arrested in 2013 at the age of 21 after she was found with a small amount of marijuana, about enough for one joint. In 2019, she continues to deal with drug checks through a probation officer, restriction to her county and a prohibition on going to bars.

While 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized small personal-use amounts of cannabis, 13 more have made marijuana possession in these quantities a civil infraction rather than a crime. However, any possession of cannabis remains a criminal offense in Texas. In some areas of the state, local courts and prosecutors are wary of pressing serious criminal charges against people arrested for the first time. In addition, legislators have indicated strong public support for reducing penalties.

Retailers learning how to combat credit card skimmers

An increasingly common problem for retailers in Texas and other parts of the country is the use of credit card skimmers. This is why law enforcement officers are making an effort to help store owners better defend their gas pumps by minimizing issues with small devices used to illegally gather sensitive credit card information. Between 2017 and 2018 there was a threefold increase in skimmer installations in San Antonio alone, according to police.

Stores with older pumps tend to be more susceptible to this type of theft offense. During a workshop held to educate retails about credit card skimmers, officials displayed seized devices to show store owners what they were up against. One of the goals of such efforts is to encourage retailers to use encrypted equipment that prohibits the use of skimmers. A special agent commenting on the problem highlighted the astronomical costs associated with what's considered a form of identity theft.

Detalles importantes que debe conocer sobre los delitos menores

Los delitos menores no son tan graves según la ley como los delitos graves, lo que significa que implican castigos menos severos. En los Estados Unidos, los delitos menores suelen dar lugar a castigos como la libertad condicional, el servicio a la comunidad, las multas monetarias y el encarcelamiento breve o parcial.

En la mayoría de las jurisdicciones de los Estados Unidos, el castigo máximo por un delito menor es de 12 meses de encarcelamiento, que generalmente se cumple en las cárceles locales de la ciudad o del condado en lugar de las cárceles de máxima seguridad.

Many identity theft cases include mandatory sentences

When people think of identity theft charges in Texas, their mind may first go to major overseas projects or a comprehensive system. However, people can be charged with identity theft on the basis of a number of allegations, some of which seem surprisingly minor. At the same time, some federal identity theft offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences. Not all state or even federal charges require the imposition of these mandatory minimums, especially because of the wide range of issues that can be prosecuted under the banner of identity theft.

An increasing number of people who face federal identity theft allegations are charged with offenses that could lead to mandatory minimum sentences if convicted. Over half of them, 53.4 percent, faced mandatory minimums while 46.6 percent faced charges that did not have these minimum sentencing requirements. This is a trend that has continued over the years. In 2006, only 21.9 percent of people accused of identity theft faced charges that included mandatory minimum sentences. In addition, more people are being charged with identity theft; while these charges made up only 4 percent of all charges with mandatory minimums in 2010, they constitute 7.2 percent in 2016.


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