Prosecutors in Texas are dismissing more marijuana cases
The number of prosecutions for marijuana in Texas is effectively going down, but the amount of cases are staying the same.
Prosecutors in urban counties are opting to drop charges in exchange for community service, fines, and drug classes.
An American-Statesman analysis shows those practices are resulting in a spike of marijuana dismissals in Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Travis and Tarrant counties. In each of the five counties, the rate of dismissal has risen since 2011, dramatically in some places. The trend also appears to be playing out statewide, where 23 percent of all misdemeanor marijuana cases were dismissed in 2011. In 2015, nearly a third were.
The rate of dismissals is increasing fastest in North Texas. According to data kept by the Texas Office of Court Administration, Tarrant County prosecutors went from dismissing just 9 percent of cases five years ago to 24.3 percent last year. In Dallas County, the dismissal rate more than doubled, from 18 percent in 2011 to 41 percent last year.
In one particular case, a man was found to have 3.9 ounces of marijuana, and ultimately never had to speak to a judge or appear in court. He agreed to 20 hours of community service and spent $2,500 on a lawyer.
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