If you’ve been caught in possession of a misdemeanor amount (less than 4 ounces) of marijuana in Harris County, you may qualify for Harris County First Chance Intervention Program/Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP).
Signing up for the misdemeanor marijuana diversion program does not require any assistance from an attorney. Instead, the officer who detains you will determine if you qualify and, if you do, give you the option to participate.
What Is the MMDP?
The MMDP, which was begun by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg on March 1, 2017, is a voluntary program that gives those individuals who would otherwise be charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana the opportunity to avoid arrest, jail booking and being charged with a crime. In order to successfully complete the program and avoid further prosecution, the applicant must pay a $150 fine and complete a four hour “diversion” class, which is designed to help attendees make better decisions.
No criminal charges will be filed if an individual successfully completes the MMDP program. Those who wish to participate have 90 calendar days in which to complete the MMDP program. Failure to comply with the MMDP program requirements could result in formal criminal charges and an arrest warrant issued by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office (HCDAO) Intake Division.
What Was the Goal of the Harris County First Chance Intervention Program/Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program?
The goal of this policy, as stated by the District Attorney’s office, 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 nonviolent crime of possessing a misdemeanor amount of marijuana are not stigmatized by a criminal record that limits their employment, education, and housing opportunities.
The MMDP program was also put into place to save the County time and money. During the past decade, the Harris County DA’s Office has prosecuted more than 100,000 cases of misdemeanor possession of marijuana at a cost in excess of $200,000,000. A program like MMDP allows law enforcement officers to spend more time pursuing crimes against people and property, frees up jail beds that could be used for violent criminals, saves time and resources for crime labs, and saves the court system time that could be used bringing serious criminals to justice.
How Successful Has the Program Been?
In its first year, the program proved to be successful in a number of ways, including:
- In 4,118 cases, the program was offered and accepted by an individual facing a marijuana possession charge.
- Of those 4,118 cases, fewer than 1,000 missed the deadline to register for the diversion class and had arrests warrants issued.
- The county saved an estimated $17.25 million that would otherwise have been spent on resources related to these cases, between the District Attorney’s office, police departments, jails, courts, crime labs, etc.
A key reason for the implementation of this program was freeing up these resources to allow for a bigger focus on crimes that affect people and property. In 2017, the DA’s office pursued over 1,000 more aggravated assault cases and over 1,000 more robbery cases than it had in 2016.
Are You Eligible?
A person is eligible to participate in the MMDP program if:
- They are age 17 or older;
- They are detained or arrested for possession of marijuana (Class A & B);
- They possess sufficient identifying information at the time of detention or arrest according to the intervening law enforcement agency’s policy;
- They have no additional criminal charges arising out of the instant detention other than Class C misdemeanor tickets;
- They have no outstanding warrants; and
- They are not on bond, deferred adjudication or probation in Harris County or another jurisdiction for any offense other than a Class C offense.
You cannot participate in the MMDP program if you are on bond, deferred adjudication or probation in Harris County or another jurisdiction for any offense other than a Class C offense, possessed evidence that shows you to be a marijuana dealer, you had a concealed weapon on your person, or if you were caught with marijuana in a “drug free zone” or a correctional facility.
Houston Drug Possession Lawyer
You do not need any attorney to sign up for the misdemeanor marijuana diversion program. However, if you do not qualify for the MMDP, it is in your best interest to seek the help of experienced Houston marijuana possession attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss.
Lisa has helped hundreds of clients who have been arrested and charged with drug possession in Houston and Harris County. Her vast expertise and legal skill will help ensure the best possible resolution of your case.
Call the law offices of Lisa Shapiro Strauss today at (713) 449-9922 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.