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Attorney Casey J. Cole is offering to represent 420 first-time offenders for free in Tarrant County. Photo courtesy of Casey J. Cole.

If you’ve ever thought about smoking weed in public for the first time, now’s your chance. You might be arrested for possession, but at least you’ll have free legal representation.

Attorney Casey J. Cole is offering to represent 420 first-time offenders for free in Tarrant County, just his way of saying the state’s current marijuana laws are draconian.

“I have been helping these kids for so many years, and I got to the point to where I wanted to say, the state is getting it wrong,” Cole said. “It’s time to help the kids. There is a lot of weed out there. The kids get it, the cops get them, and it turns into a big deal.”

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For you un-hip folk, “420” is code for smoking pot.

Someone who gets arrested for a personal stash of marijuana can look forward to jail, bond, and possibly forking over thousands of dollars in fines and fees. Some must attend diversionary programs.

“It’s too much,” Cole said.

Possession of fewer than two ounces of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, with punishment ranging from up to 180 days in jail to a $2,000 fine. A conviction can stay on a person’s permanent record and can also result in a suspended driver’s license and the possibility of community supervision or probation. Cole estimates that fighting a pot possession case and keeping it off your record can cost between $3,500 to $5,000 in attorney fees and court costs.

Some counties are more proactive and harsh than others about seeking convictions and enforcing penalties, Cole said. Tarrant County is one of the better counties when it comes to offering diversionary programs for offenders that can sometimes result in a conviction being expunged from records.

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson has put diversion programs in place that will greatly assist first-time offenders with their marijuana case,” Cole said.

Tarrant County’s pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders under the age of 21 provides them with an opportunity to have their Class B marijuana cases dismissed. Some counties, however, might throw the book at even first-time offenders with small amounts of pot.

“I believe that the laws in Texas need to be changed, but until that happens, I am going to do my part to assist those arrested in Tarrant County for marijuana possession,” Cole said.

Other lawyers have offered free representation to pot smokers in the past. USA Today wrote a story in 2014 about a Delaware lawyer who gave free counsel to pot smokers. The lawyer, Thomas Donovan, said he offered his services because he thought pot laws were costly, failing, and racially biased.

Cole, who has 23 years of criminal defense experience, said he typically charges $1,500 to represent clients in possession cases. Providing free representation for 420 clients means he’ll be foregoing $630,000 in fees.

Cole, who has two sons, ages 18 and 22, said many of the pot cases he’s seen involve young smokers who don’t have the option to buy booze.

“The kids are like, ‘It’s easier to get weed than alcohol because you have to be 21 to get alcohol,’ ” he said. “So weed is pretty prevalent.”

Last week, Cole created a website for potential clients to register for free representation: 420-colelaw.com. So far, only a handful of people have signed up.

Cole also says he’ll work for half price for anyone who is not a first-time offender in a marijuana case.

5 COMMENTS

  1. So… I was wondering why we need a 420 lawyer when your paper informed us weed is legal in texas on ut cover. Weird…seriously need a retraction section from now on. And also way to give the woman hating xeneophobe the upper hand with the pathetic article by Ryan Grounds. How many weekly writers are voting for Trump… When some ones “opinion” is anout the right to use violence, freedom of speech is a slippery slope…

    “Its my opinion all FW Weekly papers should be burned” -totally protected speech even though its absolutely erroneous.

    “Its my opinion men and women should physically fight to prove sexual equality” – free to say but not free to do… Why would any one give credit to this argument and agency to the individual who said it is beyond me. Prolly just trying to stir the pot. How bout we address the $100,000 a year our military is paying for people to get an education. Tuition reform or GI Bill reform are in order.

    Saying “its my opinion” before verbally detailing a hate crume or interrupting and arguing with a professor during class and keeping them from delivering their lesson doesnt protect those socially unacceltavle behaviors under the act of freedom of speech. Was he arrested? NO. Was he refused service? Yes. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Get a life fort worth weekly. TCU is a private Christian place and im glad they will not tolerate hate. Seems to me that the repeated visits with provost and the amount of time (up to last day to drop) that this student was given plenty of chances and guidance on how to modify his behavior for class.

    In out current political environment, articles like these are the sickness thats spreading.

  2. So… I was wondering why we need a 420 lawyer when your paper informed us dab is legal in texas on ur cover a few weeks ago. Weird… seriously need a retraction section from now on, cause its getying rediculous. Its one this to make stuff up and confuse details about local bands and artist, but a totally more severe fauxpa to publish false information about current hot topics and laws.

    Also way to give the woman hating xeneophobe the upper hand with the weakly reseached one sided article by Ryan Grounds. How many weekly writers are voting for Trump…? When some ones “opinion” is about the right to use violence, freedom of speech is a slippery slope…examples:

    “Its my opinion all FW Weekly papers should be burned” -totally protected speech even though its absolutely erroneous.

    “Its my opinion men and women should physically fight to prove sexual equality” – free to say but not free to do… Why would any one give credit to this argument and agency to the individual who said it is beyond me. Prolly just trying to stir the pot. How bout we address the $100,000 a year our military is paying for this guy to get an education. Tuition reform or GI Bill reform are in order.

    Saying “its my opinion” before verbally detailing a hate crime, or interrupting and arguing with a professor during class, keeping them from delivering their lesson doesnt protect those socially unacceltable behaviors under the act of freedom of speech. No does freedom of apeech allow a student to disrupt class, especially in lecture hall. Was he arrested? NO. Was he refused service? Yes. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Get a life fort worth weekly. TCU is a private Christian place and im glad they will not tolerate hate. Seems to me that the repeated visits with provost and the amount of time (up to last day to drop) that this student was given plenty of chances and guidance on how to modify his behavior for class.

    In out current political environment, articles like these are the sickness thats spreading.

  3. How old are these kiddies that are replying up there? Who pays their bills? What do they eat? Do any of them have a job? Are they foot-washing Tea-Bagger trainees? Do their Mama’s have any other brats with a lick of sense? Are they spoiled rotten baby Peckerwoods? Can they truly be as stupid as they seem?

  4. I don’t understand any of the comments. Casey Cole is a good guy and an honest lawyer. The free representation is good marketing and he got free advertising from the FWWeekly. What that has to do with Trump or anything else is beyond me.

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