The Texas House of Representatives recently passed a bill that will reduce the criminal penalties associated with marijuana possession. Convictions for drug crimes can have a significant impact on people's lives, limiting their employment and education opportunities for years and even decades to come. The bill could benefit a significant number of people if passed into law.
In Texas, anyone caught with 2 ounces or less of pot can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, a person can face up to 180 days behind bars, a $2,000 fine and having their driver license suspended. This is on top of a permanent criminal record.
House Bill 63 originally aimed to totally decriminalize the possession of an ounce of marijuana or less. In its original form, less than an ounce of possession would have been only a civil penalty that came with a fine of $250. Worried that the bill would not be passable as it was written, Representative Joe Moody revised it before it went to vote.
The new version of the bill does not decriminalize possessing less than an ounce of pot, but it does make the act only a Class C misdemeanor. This is punishable by a $500 fine, and police cannot arrest individuals for this type of possession unless they are also committing some type of other offense. The bill also provides the option to have the misdemeanor expunged from their records.
While the bill has yet to be signed into law, it could potentially impact a large number of Texas residents. However, for the time being, those arrested for minor marijuana possessions can still face severe criminal consequences. In general, drug crimes charges are treated quite seriously, and defendants are generally well advised to take a careful and timely approach to their defense plans.