Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson says the county's cite and release program does not impact how her office will prosecute possession of marijuana cases.
In a statement released Tuesday, Johnson said cite and release only impacts whether a person is arrested where the offense occurred, not how the case is handled within the criminal justice system. Instead of arrest, the offender is given a citation to appear later and face the same charge.
To put a finer point on it, if a city in Dallas County adopts a cite and release policy it does not change the degree of the offense and it does not make the offense punishable by only a ticket or fine, Johnson said.
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With that in mind, Johnson said her office will treat all marijuana possession cases the same regardless if they stem from a cite and release encounter or an arrest and regardless of whether the offense took place in Dallas, which recently approved a city and release policy, or whether they took place in DeSoto, Addison or any other county suburb.
"My office and I have been, and will continue to be, supportive of cite and release for those law enforcement agencies that choose to participate in it. We will help do whatever we can to make it a success.” Johnson said of Dallas' vote. “While the idea of unilaterally decriminalizing marijuana is increasingly gaining popularity and support around the country, I believe that such a decision rests with the legislature, not my office. As the Criminal District Attorney of Dallas County, I have taken an oath to uphold the law, which I will do steadfastly.”
The DA's office said first-time offenders in Dallas County are always give the opportunity to participate in the Memo Program where they can complete a series of requirements that will result in their cases being dismissed and making them eligible to have their records expunged.
Some of those requirements include deferred-adjudication probation, community service, passing two drug tests, attending an education class or paying a fee (which is waived if the defendant is found to be indigent).
Read the DA's full statement below: