Possession of Marijuana (POM) charges in Austin, and all over Texas, are one of the most common cases (behind only Driving While License Invalid) that I see as a criminal defense lawyer. Like controlled substances, POM penalties range according to the weight found. Felony possession occurs at a weight greater than 4 ounces. Anything under that, the POM is a misdemeanor.
In Austin, it is common for the police to issue “cite and release” notices for misdemeanor level POMs. A “cite and release” notice allows the person to avoid arrest and report to a Judge at a scheduled date and time to go through booking process, bond out, and receive an actual court date all within a few hours, rather than spend a night in jail. This is a discretionary policy and is not required. Many people receive these “cite and release” and ignore the court date information or simply don’t follow the instructions. It is not a ticket you can just call and pay if you don’t make it to the court date. You must report in person on or before the date on the notice. What makes this confusing is the notice itself looks exactly like a speeding ticket or any other citation you receive. It’s carbon copied, thin paper, and displays all the pertinent information in the same form and fashion. If a person does not follow the instructions on the notice, an arrest warrant is immediately issued, and he or she will be arrested and go through the entire bond process as if they had been arrested on the spot at time the notice issued. Once you have completed the cite and release portion, you receive a court date in county court.
As with any criminal charge, you should hire an experienced criminal lawyer to represent you if you receive a “cite and release” or are arrested for POM. Simply because you were not arrested at the scene, it does not mean it is not serious with no collateral consequences. POM convictions carry driver’s license suspensions, and student loan issues. You should never consent to the search of your home, person, or vehicle. If an officer has probable cause to search you or your home, then they can get a warrant. If police want to search your vehicle, they must have probable cause, and APD has a policy requiring their officer to receive written consent if no probable cause to search. Don’t sign anything unless it’s a notice to appear. Please fill out the contact form if you or someone you know is in one of these situations and needs to speak with a lawyer.