The law doesn’t change the penalties for possession, but it would save you from spending up to 18 hours at the Frank Wing Municipal Court Magistration and Detention Facility, that wretched lock-up on Frio Street — or worse, days or weeks at the Bexar County Jail if you can’t make a personal-recognizance bond. Instead, the citation would command you to appear before a magistrate further down the line, giving you time to sort your shit out, shop for a lawyer, take time off work, and all that bad jazz.
The new law, championed by Representative Jerry Madden, would also make these cite-and-summons options available to cops for other misdemeanors as well, including driving without a valid license and graffiti (assuming you’re not dumb enough to tag more than $500 worth of damage).
Nice, huh? Nah, it turns out the San Antonio Police Department has no intention of using the new law. “We’ve consulted with the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office and have made the initial decision NOT to issue citations for the six allowable offenses,” SAPD spokesman Gabe Treviño told us via email. “The six offenses were determined to be of such importance to this community that a custodial arrest served the public’s interest.”
This response confused us, because Bexar County Sheriff jail administrator Dennis McKnight claims he’s the daddy of that bill, pitching the idea while guest-blogging at Gritsforbreakfast.com. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff also spoke with SAPD and the DA, and he’s under the impression that they’re interested in making it happen. At the very least, we heard Reed was amenable to using HB 2391 for driving-without-a-license.
We’d ask her ourselves, but neither she nor her deputies are returning our calls.
Is there anything you can do about it? Probably not. In order to get a cite-and-summons program going, the DA would need to draft up the citation’s language and coordinate it with the court. Without her, there ain’t no dock to launch the boat. Even if Reed was on board, crafting a cite-and-summons policy for patrolling officers is at Chief McManus’s discretion and no amount of city-council petitioning can force his hand.
In short, rastafari, our advice is to sit tight, stay inconspicuous, remember to vote, and think about relocating to Colorado County, where they aren’t letting this legislation go to waste.