Some Texas residents may find a release from drug cases and other minor criminal charges after the Dallas County district attorney said that his office will no longer focus on prosecuting these types of cases. He noted that this is an attempt to deal with a mass incarceration problem and reflected the campaign promises that saw him elected to the position. Some of the cases the office will decline to prosecute include matters related to first-time marijuana or THC possession, possession of small “trace” amounts of other drugs, criminal trespass, or small-scale theft.

The official also noted that he planned to recommend changes to the probation and bail system as well. Cash bail systems have been widely criticized by criminal justice reformers as low-income people may spend lengthy periods of time in jail before trial simply because they cannot access the funds needed for bail, regardless of any real estimation of a risk to the community. In particular, the office noted that it will not prosecute first-time marijuana possession misdemeanor offenses as long as they did not take place in a drug-free zone or involve weapons. He also said that he would dismiss these types of misdemeanor marijuana charges if they were already in progress.

In addition, people with marijuana derivatives like THC oil can also face prosecution, including felony charges. The district attorney’s office said that it would not prosecute first-time charges for simple THC possession that did not involve weapons or drug-free zones. These charges would ordinarily be felonies.

Of course, people elsewhere in the state can still face harsh penalties for drug charges, and even these reforms only apply to people facing charges for the first time. A criminal defense attorney can work with people accused of drug crimes to challenge the allegations.