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Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program

Harris County District Attorney Kim K. Ogg

Effective Date March 1, 2017

 

 


 

 

MISDEMEANOR MARIJUANA DIVERSION PROGRAM (MMDP)

 

Policy Statement. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is committed to public safety, responsible use of taxpayer money, and equal justice for all. Accordingly, this Office is instituting a new policy affecting prosecution of misdemeanor possession of marijuana cases effective March 1, 2017.

 

Pursuant to this policy, this Office will use its prosecutorial discretion to divert offenders in possession of misdemeanor amounts of marijuana pre-charge.

 

The goal of this new policy is to ensure that: (1) the limited resources of this Office, local law enforcement, and the Harris County Jail are used responsibly to increase public safety; and (2) individuals who commit the non-violent crime of possessing a misdemeanor amount of marijuana are not stigmatized by a criminal record that limits their employment, education, and housing opportunities.

 

During the past decade, this Office prosecuted more than 100,000 cases of misdemeanor possession of marijuana at a cost in excess of $200 million dollars. The endeavor has produced no tangible public safety benefit for the people of Harris County, yet has deprived neighborhoods of officers’ time that could be spent patrolling neighborhoods, jail beds that could be used for violent criminals, crime lab resources needed for DNA testing, and judicial court time that should  be spent bringing serious criminals to justice.

 

Additionally, a District Attorney has the duty “not to convict, but to see that justice is done1,” and the important function of trying “to reform and improve the administration of justice2.” Therefore, it is this Office’s responsibility to consider the total impact of arrest and conviction for minor law infractions upon all people, especially when past prosecutions have disproportionately impacted  communities of color. Long term, the damage to our workforce, economy and to relations between the people and our criminal justice system is greater than any benefit contemplated by past policy makers.

 

This Office recognizes that the possession of marijuana is illegal in this State,  and that the police, when acting in a constitutional manner, have authority to arrest offenders who break the law. This new policy simply reflects a  collaborative effort between the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement to direct our efforts at those who commit crimes against people and property. Further, it is a commitment to the greater Houston business and labor communities to keep people in the workforce whenever possible by diverting them around the criminal justice system before they are charged with

 

 

 
 

 

 

1  Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 2.01

2 American Bar Assn., Criminal Justice Standards on the Prosecution Function, Standard 3-1.2

 

the crime of misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Accountability for breaking the law will remain an important component of this Office’s new policy as all offenders are required to meet eligibility standards and complete a four-hour education program. Otherwise, they will face traditional arrest and charging procedures for their offense.

 

Finally, this Office recognizes that there are circumstances when the possession of even small amounts of marijuana may threaten the health and welfare of community members, so those offenders who possess marijuana in drug free zones near schools or in correctional facilities will be charged and prosecuted. Additionally, those individuals under court supervision by bond, probation, or deferred adjudication are not eligible for pre-charge diversion under this new policy because they have pre-existing agreements that disallow any law violation.

 

Mission Statement. Using the lawful discretion available to prosecutors under Texas law, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office will use pre-charge diversion to increase available resources to promote public safety through prosecution of crimes against people and property.

 

Overview. The Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP) is a pre- charge diversion program offered by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to Offenders who would otherwise be arrested and charged with possession of misdemeanor marijuana, regardless of criminal history. It is a voluntary program which gives the Offender an opportunity to avoid arrest, jail booking, and the  filing of a criminal charge. DOWNLOAD FORM AT DA WEBSITE:

MMDP Overview
MMDP Form

When an Offender is detained for possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, the Officer will contact the Harris County District Attorney Intake Division to confirm probable cause for the detention. Thereafter, if the Harris County District Attorney’s Office determines that the Offender is eligible for the MMDP, the Officer will NOT make a District Attorney Intake Management System (DIMS) entry, but instead will refer the Offender to the MMDP program  sponsored by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and into a four-hour “Cognitive Decision Making” class taught by the Harris County Community Corrections & Supervision Department (HCCCSD).

 

Eligible Offenders who elect to participate in the MMDP program will sign an agreement to sign up and complete the “Cognitive Decision Making” class instead of facing traditional arrest and prosecution. Offenders will have 90 calendar days to complete the MMDP program. If the Offender successfully completes the MMDP program, no criminal charge will be filed against the Offender and there will be no criminal history of the event. If the Offender fails to comply with the MMDP program requirements, a formal criminal charge will be entered into DIMS and an arrest warrant will be drafted for the Offender by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Intake Division.

 

Eligibility.  A person is eligible to participate in the MMDP program if he or she:

  • Is an adult, age 17 or older;
  • Is detained or arrested for possession of marijuana (Class A & B);
  • Possesses sufficient identifying information at the time of detention or arrest according to the intervening law enforcement agency’s policy;
  • Has no additional criminal charges arising out of the instant detention other than Class C misdemeanor tickets;
  • Has no outstanding warrants; or
  • Is not on bond, deferred adjudication or probation in Harris County or another jurisdiction for any offense other than a Class C offense.

Not Eligible. A person is not eligible to participate in the MMDP program if he or she:

  • Is on bond, deferred adjudication or probation in Harris County or another jurisdiction for any offense other than a Class C offense;
  • Possesses marijuana and sufficient, credible evidence exists which shows them to be a marijuana dealer;
  • Is in possession of a concealed handgun and marijuana3; in such instances, the Offender will be charged with Unlawfully Carrying A Weapon only; the marijuana will be tagged as evidence;
  • Possesses a misdemeanor amount of marijuana in a “drug free zone;”
  • Possesses a misdemeanor amount of marijuana in a corrections facility; or
  • Is currently in the MMDP Program 90-day program period, prior to completion of the program.

 

 

 

 
  Text Box: LAW ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURE FOR
PRE-CHARGE DIVERSION OF ELIGIBLE OFFENDERS

 

 

 

Officer DOWNLOADS the 2-page Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form and Program Notice Form at the Harris County District Attorney website.

 

  1. MMDP Form

 

  1. Officer conducts an investigation and detains Offender for possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana.

 

  1. Officer seizes contraband.

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

3 Unless the Offender has a License to Carry a Handgun (LTC). If LTC holder, Offender is eligible for MMDP.

 

  1. Officer reviews Offender’s identification to determine and authenticate identity of Offender pursuant to Officer’s law enforcement agency policy.
  2. Officer runs a criminal history check to determine if the Offender has any outstanding warrants and is eligible to participate in the program, specifically determining he or she:
    • Is an adult, age 17 or older;
    • Is detained or arrested for possession of marijuana (Class A & B);
    • Possesses sufficient identifying information for the Officer to authenticate Offender’s identity in accordance with agency policy; and
    • Has  no  additional  charges  arising  out  of  the  instant  detention  other than Class C misdemeanor tickets.
  3. Officer calls Harris County District Attorney’s Office Intake Division to articulate probable cause and confirm same for use in writing Officer’s offense report. Upon confirmation by an Asst. District Attorney that probable cause exists, Officer requests Justice Information Management System (JIMS) check on Offender to determine if Offender is on bond, deferred adjudication or probation in Harris County or another jurisdiction for any offense other than a traffic ticket (Class C). If Offender is not  eligible for MMDP, Officer will arrest Offender and will make a DIMS entry.

 

  1. Weapons. If the Offender is carrying a concealed weapon in his/her vehicle without a LTC AND is in possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, the Officer should ONLY file the unlawfully carrying a weapon charge. The Officer should also tag the marijuana as evidence in the weapon case.

 

  1. If Offender is eligible for the program, Officer will present a MMDP Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form offering Offender the opportunity to participate.

 

  1. If the Offender elects to participate, the Officer shall:

 

  1. Complete  the  identifying  information  on  the  top  portion  of  the
Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form;
  1. Explain that by signing the Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form, the Offender promises to complete the class within 90 calendar days;

 

  1. Explain that the failure to complete the class will result in the filing of a criminal charge and a warrant will be drafted for the Offender’s arrest;
  2. Obtain the Offender’s signature of acknowledgement and program acceptance on the Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form;
  3. Give the Offender the Program Notice Form;
  4. Release the Offender from detention per law enforcement agency’s policies; and
  5. NOT file a DIMS report.

 

  1. After the Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form is completed, the Officer shall:
  1. Assign an Offense Report Number to the case and enter it on the
Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form.

 

  1. SCAN Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form and  email it to Email: MarijuanaDiversionProgram@csc.hctx.net or Fax: 713-437-8491.

 

  1. Retain the Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form as evidence, along with the contraband, and provide the Offender with Page 2 of the Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form at the scene.
  2. Complete a brief, detailed offense report with specific probable cause sufficient to draft a ‘TO BE WARRANT”. Officers are asked to include in their reports a notation that the Offender opted to participate in the MMDP Program.
e.Evidence Retention: OFFICERS SHOULD NOT SUBMIT THE MARIJUANA TO THE CRIME LAB. INSTEAD THEY SHOULD  TAG THE MARIJUANA UNDER THE OFFENSE REPORT NUMBER AND INCLUDE THE SCANNED FORM IN THE EVIDENCE ENVELOPE.
  1. Evidence Destruction: The Harris County District Attorney’s Office will send all local Law Enforcement agencies a monthly Destruction Report to give the agency authorization to destroy the marijuana.

 

  1. Statistical Reports: The Harris County District Attorney’s Office will generate monthly reports of Offenders who participated in the  MMDP Program.

 

 

 

 

 
  Text Box: OFFENDER PROCEDURE FOR ACCEPTANCE OF
PRE-CHARGE DIVERSION PROGRAM

 

 

 

Offender must:

  • Sign Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form acknowledging intent to participate and to complete program within 90 days;
  • Complete the MMDP class within 90 calendar days of detention;
  • The Participant must:
  1. Not break the law (excluding Class C offenses) prior to completion of the program during the 90 day program period;
  2. Pay a $150 program fee, which may be waived if Offender is determined by the HCCCS&D to be indigent; and
  3. Complete a 4-hour “Cognitive Decision Making” class through the HCCCS&D.

 

 

 
  Text Box: DEFERRED PROSECUTION POLICY FOR JUVENILES

 

 

 

Juveniles will continue to be diverted through the Juvenile Justice System.

 

 

 
  Text Box: LAW ENFORCEMENT PROCEDURE FOR OFFENDERS WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR
PRE-CHARGE DIVERSION PROGRAM BUT DECLINE

 

 

 

If the Offender does not wish to participate, the Officer shall explain that the Offender will be taken to jail, the Possession of Marijuana charge will be filed immediately, bond will be set and the case will proceed through the courts. In such instances, the Officer must submit the marijuana to the appropriate Crime Lab for analysis.

 

The Officer SHALL fill out the top portion of the Program Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form and have the Offender initial in the bottom box that he or she does not wish to participate and submit the completed form and Email form to: MarijuanaDiversionProgram@csc.hctx.net or Fax: 713-437-8491.

 

Acknowledgement & Acceptance Form Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP)

 

 

Date:

Officer:

Badge/ID:

Agency:

Report #:

Detainee Name:

Race/Sex/DOB:

Detainee SSN:

Detainee OLN/IDN:

Detainee Address:

Detainee Phone:

       

Acknowledgement and Acceptance

I have been detained for the offense of Possession of Marijuana, a Class A or B Misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and /or up to one-year in jail. I understand that I am being offered the opportunity to participate in the MMDP, which provides an alternative to traditional arrest and charging.

 

I understand that if I agree to participate in this 90-day program and successfully complete it, my record will remain clear of any arrest or charge for the above-referenced offense. I agree to complete the 4-hour “Cognitive Decision Making” class within 90 calendar days following this detention.

Go to the HARRIS COUNTY WEBSITE: www.go2gov.net/go/mmdp to select a date and time to sign up for the 4-hour “Cognitive Decision Making” class. The cost is $150 and must take in person. If you are indigent, and cannot pay, contact the Harris County Community Corrections & Supervision Dept. at (713) 274-8444 – ask to speak to the Marijuana Diversion Coordinator. Email questions to: Marijuanadiversionprogram@csc.hctx.net Monday-Friday 8am-4pm to make arrangements for completion of the MMDP program.

 

By my signature below, I acknowledge and agree that if I do not complete the 4-hour  class within 90 days, a criminal charge for Possession of Marijuana will be filed and a warrant for my arrest will be drafted by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

 

 

 

Detainee Signature

 

Cellular Phone Number

 

 

Date

 

 

Time

 

 

E-mail Address

 

 

Officer Signature

 

     

 

Text Box:  	   I  was  offered  the  opportunity  to  participate  in  the  above-reference  program  but  chose  NOT  to participate. (Initial here only if Detainee chooses NOT to participate.)

Submit completed form by Email: MarijuanaDiversionProgram@csc.hctx.net. Fax: 713-437-8491.

 

NOTICE TO OFFENDER FORM

Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP)

 

I have been detained for the offense of Possession of Marijuana, a Class A or B Misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and/or up to one- year in jail.

 

I understand that I am being offered the opportunity to participate in the Harris County District Attorney MMDP, which provides an alternative to  traditional arrest and charging.

 

I understand that if I agree to participate in this 90-day program and successfully complete it, my record will remain clear of any arrest or charge for the above- referenced offense.

I understand and agree that in exchange for being released from the custody of the Officer at this time, I agree to complete a 4-hour “Cognitive Decision Making” class within 90 days.

I will sign up and pay $150 for the 4-hour “Cognitive Decision Making” at the Harris County Website: www.go2gov.net/go/mmdp.

I understand that the “Cognitive Decision Making” class must be taken in person at 49 San Jacinto St., Houston, TX 77002. I agree to pay the $150 cost, and if I am indigent, that I will contact the Harris County Community Corrections & Supervision Dept. to make individual arrangements Monday-Friday from 8am- 4pm. For questions, Email: Marijuanadiversionprogram@csc.hctx.net or Call (713) 274-8444 and ask to speak to the Marijuana Diversion Coordinator.

 

 

 

 

****PROVIDE THIS COPY TO OFFENDER****