Honorable Nicole Collier, Chair, House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence
Jerry McGinty, Director, Legislative Budget Board
HB2593 by Moody (Relating to the criminal penalties for the possession of certain tetrahydrocannabinols under the Texas Controlled Substances Act.), As Introduced
The provisions of the bill addressing felony sanctions are the subject of this analysis. The bill would amend various codes as they relate to possession of certain tetrahydrocannabinols and related substances. Under the provisions of the bill, tetrahydrocannabinols and its related substances as outlined in the bill would be transferred to a newly created penalty group and criminal penalties for possession would be punishable as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the offense. Under existing statute, possession of controlled substances in penalty group 2 would be punishable as any felony depending on the aggregate weight of the substance and the specific circumstances of the offense.
A first degree felony is punishable by confinement in prison for life or a term from 5 to 99 years; a second degree felony is punishable by confinement in prison for a term from 2 to 20 years; a third degree felony is punishable by confinement in prison for a term from 2 to 10 years; and a state jail felony is punishable by confinement in a state jail for a term from 180 days to 2 years or a class A misdemeanor. In addition to confinement, most felonies have an optional fine not to exceed $10,000. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by confinement in county jail for a term not to exceed one year and, in addition to confinement, an optional fine not to exceed $4,000. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by confinement in county jail for a term not to exceed 180 days and in addition to confinement, an optional fine not to exceed $2,000.
Decreasing the penalties for a criminal offense is expected to result in fewer demands on the correctional resources of the counties or of the State due to a decrease in the length of stay and number of individuals sentenced to terms of confinement in state correctional institutions or placed under parole supervision. From fiscal years 2018 through 2020, an average of 16,434 people were arrested, 1,267 people were placed onto felony direct community supervision, and 387 people were admitted into a state correctional institution for the offenses of possession of a controlled substance in penalty group 2 under existing statute.
The bill may have a positive population impact by decreasing the number of people under felony community supervision or incarcerated within state correctional institutions. Whether the bill would result in a significant population impact is indeterminate due to the lack of information on the number of cases where the possession of a controlled substance involved tetrahydrocannabinols or a related substance as outlined in the bill. This information is necessary to identify the cases that would be affected by the provisions of the bill from all other possession of a controlled substance cases.