Collin County Possession of Marijuana: Statistics

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522

When the dust settles from a recent arrest, uncertainty becomes one of the most significant sources of anxiety associated with facing a criminal charge. A good approach to any case is to first divide a client’s expectations into two categories: (1) the “technically possible” category, and (2) the “reasonable expectations” category. While there is no scientific formula for predicting outcome, a little bit of familiarity of the mental calculus used by the decision-makers (judges, jurors and prosecutors) in a particular county goes a long way.

Consistency is a virtue (“virtue”) of the legal system, but consistency varies amongst counties. For example, a Collin County outcome may not be consistent with a Dallas County outcome. Guaranteed outcomes don’t exist, but with an understanding of the consistent outcomes within a particular county is important for an attorney who seeks to guide expectations and/or develop a winning strategy.

A good place to start a discussion on expectations is the statutory punishment range for different types of Possession. By comparison, Texas has quite strict marijuana laws. While 17 states have decriminalized medical use and many states have reduced penalties for simple possession to a mere slap on the wrist, Texas still carries the potential for serious criminal penalties.

Possession of Paraphernalia
Class C Misdemeanor
$0 – $500 fine
No Jail

Possession of Marijuana Less Than 2 Ounces

Class B Misdemeanor
$0 – $2,000 fine
0 – 180 days in jail

Possession of Marijuana More than 2 Ounces But Less
Than 4 Ounces

Class A Misdemeanor
$0 – $4,000 fine
0 – 360 days in jail

Possession of Marijuana in Drug-Free School Zone
Enhances the level of offense one degree

Regardless of the level of offense, the prosecuting attorney for a particular county will have discretion on how the State of Texas will handle the case. In my experience, two things are true in Collin County: (1) many Misdemeanor Possession cases are winnable, and (2) many Misdemeanor Possession cases can be resolved by favorable forms of probation. FORMS OF PROBATION. And the numbers support this. Collin County marijuana statistics compiled for the year 2011 by the Texas Office of Court Administration show the following:

1,625 cases were disposed of in some fashion in 2011

436 of those dispositions were by permanent conviction following a guilty plea (26.8%)

676 of those dispositions were by deferred adjudication following a guilty plea (41.6%)

45 Misdemeanor Possession cases went to trial

6 jury trials were held. 2 resulted in acquittal (33.33%). 4 resulted in conviction (66.66%)

39 judge trials were held. 6 resulted in acquittal (15.4%). 33 Resulted in conviction (84.6%)

118 cases were dismissed

2011 Misdemeanor Statistics 2.pdf

These numbers are helpful, but can also be misleading without more explanation. First of all, these numbers don’t indicate the reasons for dismissal. Frequently a dismissal of a Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana case is the result of the judge granting a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, which is like a mini-trial on issues of search, seizure, arrest and detention. A good number of these dismissals are likely attributed to such contested hearings.

Secondly, the number of trials should not reflect the number of “winnable” Misdemeanor Possession cases. Although you won’t see them blog about it, prosecutors are good at finding issues with criminal cases, too. Whether discovered on their own or brought to their attention by a defense attorney, serious issues can result in favorable plea bargaining which avoids the necessity of trial.

Naturally, all cases have a unique set of facts and circumstances, and these facts and circumstances will play the most significant role in the outcome of a case. While I think that these numbers are interesting and sometimes helpful, no amount of blog reading or number crunching outweighs a thorough legal assessment of a marijuana case. The circumstances which may make the difference in a person’s case are not always apparent to the untrained eye.

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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