As criminal defense attorneys in Houston, we know that Texas laws very often tend not to match the punishment to the crime very well. A jury in Smith County has recently shown exactly how bad a mismatch crime and punishment can be. They have found a man in Tyler guilty of possessing less than 5 ounces but more than 4 ounces of marijuana, and sentenced him to –get this- 35 years in prison.
In 2008, the man Henry Walter Wooten, was accused of possessing marijuana about 1000 feet from a day care center. He pleaded not guilty to the charge. He has two prior convictions, one each in 1987 and 1989. Ever since his arrest in 2008, Wooten has remained in prison.
You don’t have to be a Houston criminal defense lawyer to believe that this is one case where the drug crime punishment simply doesn’t fit the crime. Thirty-five years in prison is too excessive a sentence for a man possessing 4.6 ounces of marijuana, even if he had a record of two prior felonies. It seems to us that the district attorney here wanted to make an example of someone to show how they’ve contributed to the safety of the people of Tyler, and unfortunately, Wooten is the sacrificial lamb for that noble cause.
With 4.6 ounces in his car, Wooten was hardly a one-man Mexican drug cartel. Prosecutors in Smith County are going to have a hard time explaining this to the rest of the state. The sentence has been rightly condemned not just by Texas criminal defense attorneys, but also by citizens who worry that our state’s stretched budgetary resources barely leaves us with enough resources to keep deservedly dangerous people in prison.
If you have been charged with a crime, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Kahn Law Firm today for a free, confidential consultation at 713-226-9900.