Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Harris County to institute "catch and release" policy

The Harris County District Attorney's Office announced a change in its policy regarding arrests for trace amounts of drugs, particularly crack pipes with cocaine residue.

Beginning on January 1, 2010, if the amount of drug residue is less than .01 grams, a person will be cited for possession of drug paraphenalia, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fine only. By law a person charged with possession of a controlled substance has the right to examine and retest the substance. The District Attorney's Office has determined that an amount of less than .01 grams is insufficient to allow for retesting of the substance.

According to the new policy, if the person is carrying drug paraphenalia and the officer cannot determine the weight of the drug residue, the officer is to issue a citation and release the alleged offender. If the drug residue is found in some container other than drug paraphenalia, the officer is to issue a citation, release the alleged offender and submit the container for testing. If the amount in question is more than .01 grams, the officer may submit the case to the DA's office and request an arrest warrant.

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