Cite-and-release, a law first passed by the Texas Legislature in 2007, allows a defendant charged with some class A and B misdemeanor offenses to be eligible for a citation rather than an immediate arrest.
Officers issue a citation to appear before county magistrates on a certain date. Once the offender appears, the law enforcement agency that issued the citation is notified and then files the case with the DA’s office for prosecution.
This change is part of the joint work of the Tarrant County Law Enforcement Executives Association, Tarrant County magistrates and the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office.
According to Cody Phillips, president of the Tarrant County Law Enforcement Executives Association and chief of police for the city of Haltom, not every agency may choose to use cite-and-release, however.
Police departments that plan to participate in this policy so far include Fort Worth, Colleyville and Grapevine.
“We believe it will be a great opportunity to lessen the burdens on both the citizen and officer,” said Joseph Sparrow, Fort Worth assistant police chief, in a statement.
Colleyville Police Department Chief Michael Miller said the department has frozen any changes to departmental policies at the moment as it undergoes an accreditation review by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Grapevine police plan to participate, but department spokesperson Amanda McNew said the agency does not have a time frame yet for rolling the policy out.
Eligible charges for cite-and-release include possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana; possession of between 2 and 4 ounces of marijuana; possession of less than 2 ounces of a controlled substance in penalty group 2A; possession of between 2 and 4 ounces of a controlled substance in penalty group 2A; criminal mischief if the amount of loss is between $100 and $750; graffiti if the amount of loss is between $100 and $2,500; and theft if the value stolen is between $100 and $750.
“We are not dismissing theft or drug cases,” said Sharen Wilson, Tarrant County criminal district attorney, in a press release. “This is just another way to prosecute these cases efficiently.”