The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has recently implemented new programs designed to help first time drug offenders avoid criminal records.  The two pretrial Diversion / pretrial Intervention programs are available to those charged with possessing small amounts of felony controlled substances (cocaine, amphetamines, etc.) and those charged with possessing personal use amounts of marijuana (under two ounces).  The significant feature of these programs is that, if effectively completed by a defendant, the record can be expunged.  The rationale for these programs is the recognition, at long last, that those charged with possession of personal use amounts of drugs should not in all cases suffer the damaging effects of a criminal record.

What is the Felony Controlled Substance Pretrial Intervention Program?

The felony controlled substance pretrial intervention program was introduced in 2016 to provide certain offenders charged with personal use amounts of felony controlled substances the opportunity to avoid a criminal record upon the successful completion of the program.  In the past, for those individuals who pleaded guilty to felony possession of controlled substance, deferred adjudication was generally the best option.  However, even a successfully completed deferred adjudication cannot be expunged.  Those who successfully complete felony controlled substance pretrial intervention program are able to have the record of their arrest and charge expunged.

Felony controlled substances eligible for pretrial intervention include, but are not limited to:

  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Hallucinogenic mushrooms

What are the Eligibility Requirements for the Felony Controlled Substance Pretrial Intervention Program?

The eligibility criteria for the felony program are:

  • The amount of the illegal substance less than 1 gram or less than 20 “abuse units” (these are state jail felony amounts, the lowest grade of felony in Texas). Cases of possession of 1-4 grams (a third degree felony) are reviewed on case-by-case basis
  • The applicant has no prior convictions, probations, or deferred adjudications for a felony
  • The applicant cannot be charged or under investigation for any other felony offense in Texas or any other jurisdiction
  • There is no evidence that the applicant was involved in the delivery/manufacturing of the controlled substance or possession with the intent to deliver.
  • The applicant has never participated in a pre-trial intervention or diversion program for a felony offense
  • The applicant agrees to participate in the program within 60 days of the first court setting
  • The applicant agrees to waive indictment and file the waiver with the court at the time he/she signs the agreement to enter the program.

The Harris County felony controlled substance pretrial intervention program requirements are discussed in Part II of III of this post concerning Harris County Drug Pretrial Diversion and Pretrial Intervention Programs.

© 2016 David A. Nachtigall, Attorney at Law, PLLC