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San Antonio residmarijuana-300x225ents and visitors who are found in possession of marijuana by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office may be eligible for a new “cite and release” program that the Bexar County District’s Office has initiated. The program is currently in its trial phase and currently only working with the Sheriff’s Department. Individuals who are eligible would be entered into a pretrial diversion program and ordered to pay a $250 fine, any restitution, perform eight hours of community service, take a course and provide a urine sample.

The stipulations of the program are not entirely clear, however, and there is no indication what would happen to an offender if they fail to complete the pretrial diversion. Other pretrial diversion programs implemented by the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office come with an agreement that if the offender does not finish the program, a guilty plea is entered on their behalf. This program also allows an officer to use his discretion in who will be arrested and taken to jail and who will be cited and released on the scene.

Possession of marijuana in Texas can have some serious consequences. Possession of 0-2 ounces is a Class B misdemeanor with a possible punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine up to $2,000.00. Possession of 2-4 ounces has a possible punishment of a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000.00. There are severe collateral consequences as well. For example, someone convicted of misdemeanor possession with have their driver’s license suspended. Some offenders who are convicted may not be able to receive federal financial aid.

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The Bexar County legal community is still reeling from the loss of Assistant District Attorney Charles ‘Chip” Rich III. He passed away on Monday, November 5, 2012. Colleagues remember him as outstanding, caring, professional, courteous, top-notch, and an integral part of the District Attorney’s office. He was the type of prosecutor who took time out of his day to assist younger prosecutors and despite working in an adversarial system, he genuinely cared about the personal lives of his colleagues, including defense attorneys.

Rich studied at the University of Denver-Strum College of Law and began his career in the Denver area in 1993. He joined the Bexar County District Attorney’s office in 2002. He became chairman of the DWI Task Force in 2011.

Rich was involved in many community programs. Recently he was a guest speaker at the Shattered Dreams program at Saint Mary’s Hall Upper School campus. This program was developed to teach students and families the consequences of underage drinking.