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Drug charges for possession may qualify for deferred sentence

Texas residents have traditionally faced steep criminal penalties for state or federal violations of the controlled substances laws. Extended jail sentences for drug sales, and sometimes for mere possession, have been structured into the criminal justice protocol for decades since the inception of the war on drugs. Mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug charges have been harshly applied and utilized to bring about the mass incarceration of minority members.

Fortunately, in Texas there is a possibility for accused individuals who qualify to obtain the benefit of a "deferred sentence" for certain drug possession charges. That valuable option was applied recently in the arrest of a 24-year old female actor from the Oscar-nominated movie "Boyhood." The actor was arrested by Texas authorities on drug charges after being involved in a collision with another vehicle on Interstate 35 in May 2016.

Texas state troopers found loose pills in her car and a small amount of cocaine in her purse. Instead of engaging in intensive criminal litigation to try and suppress the evidence, or to fight the charges in some other way, her attorney stated that she accepted responsibility for the offense. As a part of the plea negotiation, the judge imposed a three-year deferred sentence for the drug possession charge.

The essence of the program is that the three-year sentence can be avoided by the successful performance of her probation under the terms of the judge's sentencing order. The Texas program applies to drug charges involving possession, and it specifies certain preconditions for qualification to be considered as a sentencing option. Treatment and rehabilitation programs may be a part of the court's sentencing order, and if all probationary conditions are met, the defendant will not have a criminal record at the end of the procedure. In some instances, of course, other factors may require a different defense strategy as each case must be evaluated on its own set of facts.  

Source:, "'Boyhood' actress gets deferred sentence for drug charge", June 23, 2017

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