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Travis County prosecutors changing how they handle cases involving trace amounts of drugs

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore wants officials to consider how they should handle cases involving less than one gram of drugs.

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — For years, Travis County prosecutors have dismissed drug possession cases involving trace amounts of drugs, usually consisting of residue or a few particles of an illegal substance.

Now, they are looking to come up with criteria with which they will more closely evaluate a wider array of cases – including those greater than a trace but still under a gram.

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Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said she is hoping to work with Austin police to evaluate which of those cases will go forward or result in a dismissal or deferral program for offenders.

"I have engaged the Austin Police Department in that discussion, and I think it is important that we be able to assure the public that we are using their dollars as wisely as we possibly can, so we are looking at these cases to discern which ones don't need to be prosecuted and get them out of the system," Moore said. 

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Moore said for years, prosecutors have not gone forward with cases involving 0.01 grams of drugs such as cocaine or meth. She said she has expanded that to include cases where the weight falls into a margin of error that could make it slightly above or below 0.01 grams. 

Additionally, she said she wants officials to consider how they should handle cases involving less than one gram of drugs. That could include fully prosecuting the case, particularly if it is linked to other crimes or involves a direct public safety threat; dismissing it; or sending the defendant through a deferral program. 

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