Texas is one of the states that still imposes harsh penalties for even small amounts of marijuana possession. Except in the most limited situations, medicinal and recreational marijuana is still illegal in the state. Penalties for marijuana possession range from a Class B misdemeanor to life in prison and are determined based on the amount of marijuana found in a person’s possession at the time of the arrest.

For most people though, the criminal penalties are not the biggest worry. Instead, it’s the impact the charge is going to having on their career and their future.

An arrest and conviction for marijuana possession can have a significant impact on your personal life and professional reputation. Conviction comes with a criminal record and potential job loss. It will also appear in future background checks for job applications, housing, professional licenses, and more.

Fortunately, there are usually options available to avoid a conviction that becomes part of a criminal record. There are pre-trial diversion programs, which allow cases to be disposed of out of court. There is also a type of probation – deferred adjudication – which results in the charge being dismissed when the probation is over. With both of those options, there are ways to have your record sealed. Unfortunately, sometimes that is not enough.

An example of this was the recent case of Waco School  superintendent Dr. Marcus Nelson. He was placed in a position where he decided to officially resign as the superintendent of the Waco Independent School District after being arrested for possession of marijuana on March 6. That decision was made following a school board hearing over whether he should be terminated based on the arrest.  The former superintendent was arrested after a traffic stop in Robertson County for possession of fewer than two ounces of marijuana. He spent the night in jail and was released the next day.

Had it not been for his public position, the arrest would have been something no one ever knew about. He  had agreed to a plea deal in which the possession charge would be dismissed if he completed a 90-day diversion program. Once that was done, the records could have been sealed.

This case demonstrates a couple of things about the criminal justice system. The most important is that just because you are able to get your records sealed, doesn’t mean no will know about your arrest. The other is that an arrest can have serious consequences, even if the charges are ultimately dismissed.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact an experienced lawyer immediately, who can discuss with the you the best options for your situation.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 35 years.
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