Cite and Release

Photo of a police officer writing a cite and release ticket

The Texas Legislature passed a bill more than a decade ago giving police officers an alternative method for dealing with low-level marijuana offenders. Instead of arresting the offender and taking them into custody, the law allows an officer to issue the accused individual a citation.

While this may sound like a great deal, there’s a catch. Sure, you avoided a ride to the jail in cuffs, and you avoided taking a mugshot that will be posted publicly online. But marijuana possession is still a criminal offense. You still need to show up in court. And you could still face harsh penalties.

Defense Attorney for Cite and Release in Texas

If you were cited and released after getting busted for marijuana, you’re not off the hook yet. You are still facing criminal charges. It’s important that you understand your options and the penalties if convicted. The Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC can answer your questions.

Attorney David Sloane has been practicing law for over two decades now with an extensive focus on marijuana charges. Before practicing law, David worked in law enforcement as a police lieutenant. He also serves as the Public Information Officer for the Dallas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). If you’re facing charges of marijuana possession following a cite and release, the Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC can help obtain the best possible outcome.

Call (817) 810-0088 or complete our online contact form today. The Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC represents clients in North Texas and around the state of Texas, including the counties of Wise, Hartley, Montague, Tarrant, and Sherman.

Overview of Cite and Release in Texas

Back to Top

What Is the Purpose of Cite and Release?

A handful of Texas counties have adopted the cite and release procedure, but most have not. For demonstration purposes, we will focus on the Dallas cite and release program which went into effect December 2017.

According to a presentation by the assistant chief of police for the Dallas Police Department, the goals of cite and release are as follows:

  • Reduce the number of non-violent offenders jailed;
  • Reduce the time officers spend on jail processing procedures; and
  • Improve response times by saving about 45 minutes per qualifying offender.

Cite and release is primarily meant to improve the operation of the Dallas Police. It amounts to a procedural change when charging a suspect with marijuana possession. It does not, however, get you off the hook for criminal charges.

Back to Top

How Does the Cite and Release Program Work in Dallas?

First, it’s important to understand who qualifies for cite and release. To qualify, the accused must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a resident of the city of Dallas within Dallas County;
  • Must not have any other convictions;
  • Must not have any outstanding warrants;
  • Must have a valid Texas state ID or driver’s license; and
  • Must not have committed the offense in a drug-free zone, such as a school.

In a standard encounter between police and a person possessing marijuana, the suspect would be detained and the marijuana field tested. If the test indicated the presence of marijuana, the suspect would be taken to jail, booked, and the drugs placed in the evidence room.

The cite and release policy only slightly modifies this procedure, but it benefits both the accused and the officer. After detaining the suspect, the police field test and weigh the marijuana. If the total weight is below four ounces, the suspect’s ID is verified and their thumbprint is captured by law enforcement. They are then issued a citation with a court date and released without being taken to jail.

So you don’t go to jail, but you do still have to show up in court to face your criminal charges. Don’t risk defending yourself in court. Contact the experienced marijuana defense attorneys at the Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC to learn how we can help.

Back to Top

What Are the Penalties for Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession?

Cite and release only applies to those who are found to possess four or fewer ounces of marijuana. Texas prescribes the following penalties for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

  • Two ounces or less: Class B misdemeanor; up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine; and
  • Two to four ounces: Class A misdemeanor; up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

If you’re busted with more than four ounces of weed, you’re facing felony charges with the possibility of a mandatory minimum six-month stay in jail. Felony marijuana possession charges do not qualify for cite and release.

The accomplished legal team at the Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC can help you present a strong defense regardless of whether you’ve been cited and released with a misdemeanor charge or cuffed and taken to jail for a felony.

Back to Top

Additional Resources

Cite & Release Update | Dallas Police Department – Dallas City Hall published this August 2018 presentation as a six-month update to the city’s recently implemented cite and release program. Visit this website to view statistics about the number of marijuana possession cases that qualified for cite and release. This report also compiles demographic information about those cited.

House Bill 2391 | Texas Legislature – The Texas Legislature passed this house bill with near-unanimous consent in May 2007. Visit this link to read the full text of the legislation that formed the groundwork for the state’s cite and release program.

Dallas Police Use ‘Cite And Release’ In Fraction Of Marijuana Possession Cases | KERA – This article by Dallas public TV station KERA discusses the infrequent application of the cite and release law in Dallas County. Visit this website to read Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston’s concerns about a possible racial disparity revealed by the cite and release program data.

Back to Top

Defense Lawyer for Cite and Release in Texas

Have you received a citation for marijuana possession? Whether you were cited and released or arrested and taken into custody, it’s important that you consult with experienced legal counsel. Don’t let your guard down just because you weren’t arrested.

The experienced marijuana defense attorneys at the Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC can help you obtain the best possible outcome. David is passionate about defending his clients’ interests. Our attorneys will do everything in our power to obtain a favorable outcome for you. When your future hangs in the balance, it’s crucial that you prepare a strong defense.

The Law Offices of David Sloane, PLLC can help you get started today. Call (817) 810-0088 or complete our online form for a free consultation. We represent clients in North Texas and across the Lone Star State, including Wise, Dallam, Hudspeth, Childress, and Carson County.

Back to Top

This page was last updated on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.