Harris County’s new program, the First Chance Intervention Program has been initiative by the DA’s Office, in cooperation with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston Police Department. It is for individuals caught with a class B amount (0-2 ounces) of marijuana.
Eligibility for First Chance Intervention Program
A person is considered a first offender and is eligible to participate in the First Chance Intervention Program program if he or she:
- Is detained or arrested for possession of marijuana, 2 ounces or less;
- Possesses sufficient identifying information;
- Has no additional charges out of the instant detention/arrest (other than Class C tickets);
- Has no outstanding warrants or holds (including Class C charges);
- Has no criminal convictions as an adult (Class B offense or greater);
- Has never received probation or deferred adjudication (Class B offense or greater);
- Is not currently on bond, deferred adjudication or probation (Class B offense or greater); and
- Has not previously participated in this program or another pretrial intervention program.
When charged with a crime, especially in Harris County, it is very important to remain drug and alcohol free while on bond. This could potentially be the case even if you are not charged with a crime that involves alcohol and/or drugs.
Of course drugs are illegal, so you shouldn’t be doing them anyway. But it seems silly to tell people that they shouldn’t be drinking when it’s legal. I agree, but unfortunately, some judges do not care if it is legal, if they know you are drinking they could potentially take your bond away and put you back in jail.
One particular case I worked on recently was a possession of Marijuana case. I warned my client ahead of time to not do drugs and to always be on time to court. In an effort to try to get the case dismissed, I sent my client to take a drug test (which he passed). He took this test on a Friday, and his court date was Monday. Since he was clean and passed his drug test on Friday, he figured it was ok to do drugs during the weekend.
Fast forward to Monday, and my client shows up late to court. The judge asked about the status of the case, and then he sent my client to get drug tested (warning him that a failed drug test would result in his bond being revoked). My client sits in the probation department for hours, claiming that he doesn’t have to urinate, and then eventually leaves. He doesn’t go back to court, and now he has a warrant for his arrest. I have not heard from him since. He went from having the opportunity to get his case dismissed, to making his problems three times as bad.
Alcohol related cases sometimes carry a pre-trial consequence of having an ignition interlock placed in your vehicle. If you do not have a vehicle, an at home interlock might be assigned. If you end up in a bad court, you could possibly even have a SCRAM device (an ankle monitor which takes a reading from your sweat glands to see if you have been drinking) installed on your person.
Similar to the consequences listed above, if you blow into your interlock device with alcohol, or if you SCRAM monitor reads alcohol, you run the risk of your bond being revoked.
While most of the time interlocks are used for alcohol related cases (DWI mostly), I have seen them used on cases such as Failure to Stop and Give Information (Hit and Run) and Domestic Violence Cases.
Whether or not this happens on your case depends a lot on the court you are placed in, and the judge who is hearing your case. Most criminal attorneys in Houston who work consistently in the Criminal Justice Center can give you an idea of the tendencies of the judge handling your case.