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Criminal Prosecutions for Drug Paraphernalia

Texas aggressively prosecutes drug offenses. Being caught with drugs or trying to sell them carries stiff penalties. The state even criminalizes owning or possessing drug paraphernalia. This means you can face criminal charges even if no illicit substances are found on you.

Call Tad Nelson & Associates if you or a child has been picked up for drug possession. A charge for possessing or using paraphernalia is serious, as is any accusation you delivered or manufactured paraphernalia. Our League City drug charges lawyer can review the facts and identify some possible defenses in a free consultation.

What is Drug Paraphernalia?

Texas Health and Safety Code 481.002(17) defines “paraphernalia” as materials, products, or equipment that is used to process, package, store, conceal, cultivate, or plant drugs. Paraphernalia includes any item that someone uses to consume a controlled substance, such as by injection or inhalation.

The most common examples of paraphernalia include:

  • Roach clips
  • Pipes
  • Syringes
  • Bongs
  • Rolling papers
  • Spoons
  • Plastic baggies or containers
  • UV lights
  • Grinders
  • Capsules
  • Scales
  • Sifters

This is only a partial list. Any item that could be used to manufacture, grow, or consume drugs could qualify as drug paraphernalia.

Criminal Penalties

Getting caught with drug paraphernalia is typically less serious than being caught with controlled substances. But you are still facing difficult charges:

  • If you are convicted of possessing or using paraphernalia, then you face a Class C misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum $500 fine. Fortunately, Class C misdemeanors do not require any jail time.
  • If convicted of manufacturing or delivering paraphernalia, then you can face Class A misdemeanor charges for a first offense. That would result in a maximum 1 year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
  • If convicted of delivering paraphernalia to someone under 18, then you can face state jail felony charges. Penalties include up to 2 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

It is possible, depending on your criminal history, to face even more severe penalties. And, of course, anyone convicted will have a criminal record which can make life difficult moving forward.

How We Defend Drug Paraphernalia Cases

A common issue in this type of case is that most paraphernalia can be used for a legitimate, non-criminal purpose. For example, people use pipes to smoke tobacco, or they use plastic bags to store a sandwich. A plastic container has many purposes, none of which are related to drugs. For this reason, many prosecutions for possession of paraphernalia are brought when a person is caught with drugs at the same time. In that situation, it’s reasonable to assume you are using the paraphernalia for a drug-related purpose.

But if there are no drugs anywhere around at the time of arrest, it’s much harder for the state to prove you broke the law. They might try to tie you to drugs in other ways, e.g., with text messages between you and a known drug dealer. When there are no drugs at the scene, we can offer an innocent reason for why you had the items in your possession. That might be enough to plant reasonable doubt in someone’s mind.

Another defense strategy is to challenge the constitutionality of the police search. An officer needs probable cause to search your home or vehicle, unless you give consent. Sometimes officers make a blanket accusation that they “smelled something,” which they use as a pretext to barge into someone’s apartment. We can ask a judge to suppress the evidence in those situations. And if we win, then the state’s case against you could crumble.

We might also argue you had no idea the paraphernalia was in your possession. Imagine if you borrow someone’s jacket to wear home, and there’s baggies with trace amounts of cocaine in the pocket. Or if you are driving your cousin’s car, and some paraphernalia is found in the trunk. That doesn’t mean you knew the items were in your possession.

Call with Questions

Texas continues to prosecute people for drug crimes, including marijuana. A common misconception is that the state has decriminalized marijuana use when that is far from the case. A limited number of people have permission to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, but there has been no wide-scale decriminalization.

If you were arrested for a drug crime, contact Tad Nelson & Associates today. A criminal defense lawyer will review all the facts related to your case. Based on what we hear, we can provide an overview of possible penalties, as well as viable defenses. Contact us for a private consultation with an experienced defense lawyer.