Not Guilty!! POM Austin County
On Wednesday, June 19th, we heard the sweet sound of a two-word verdict from an Austin County jury.
Our client was driving a car with four companions when it was stopped in Austin County for speeding. The officer immediately smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the car and called for back-up. Upon arrival of the backup officers, all occupants were removed from the car and detained in handcuffs.
During the probable cause search, marijuana was found in the center console. Cigarillos, a scale and a large sum of money were also found on the passenger side floorboard. In addition, marijuana residue was located everywhere within the car and a partially smoked blunt was found stashed in the rear seat cushion and rolling papers in another compartment.
The State’s theory of the case was that everybody was in joint possession of the weed. They also argued that the driver was linked directly to the weed found in the center console. Our strategy was to show the jury that while the driver knew marijuana was in the car and being possessed by at least two of her companions, she did not have actual care, custody, control or management of any of it. The jury agreed and came back with a very quick ten minute “Not Guilty” verdict.
More than 100 hours of attorney time was spent in preparation of the case. At least 10 hours was spent preparing the voir dire PowerPoint. Another ten or more hours were spent preparing the jury charge. The trial itself took two days. Our client’s family complained our fees were too high for a simple misdemeanor marijuana case. However, the result speaks for itself!
In the end, our client, a single mom from out of state and where marijuana is legal, is now out-from-under a very dark cloud. If convicted, she would have lost her job, her ability to provide for her family and her reputation. Because she refused to plead guilty to a very difficult case and demanded that the State prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, she is now entitled to an expunction and the arrest will be removed from her criminal history. I consider that a job well done.
Until Texas joins a majority of States which are decriminalizing marijuana, we will continue to spend millions of tax payer’s dollars on enforcement of an out-of-date law. This money could put to better use. We will also continue to lose tax revenue which is now flowing to our neighboring states in much the same way Louisiana and Oklahoma are collecting revenue from legalized gambling and tourism.
Finally, until we legalize marijuana, our citizens will continue obtaining marijuana from armed and dangerous drug dealers. Also, it is well known that unscrupulous drug dealers spike their products with dangerous drugs to increase the high and thus the demand for their particular brand. And finally, without regulation, users are being unnecessarily exposed to dangerous pesticides used to increase yields.
In short, Texas needs to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana and all THC products. By doing so, these products will become a safer to obtain and use. Let’s end the confusion over the legal status of marijuana and THC products once and for all.