If you are familiar with drug use and culture, you know that certain household objects double as items used for the storage, manufacture, or consumption of illegal drugs. These items are known as drug paraphernalia. Like the possession of illegal drugs, the possession of drug paraphernalia is a drug crime. But unlike illegal drugs, which only serve one purpose, items that may be deemed to be drug paraphernalia serve multiple purposes. Because of this, it is possible for an individual who is completely innocent of drug offenses to be charged with the possession of drug paraphernalia and even found guilty.
Any item used in conjunction with an illegal drug may be deemed to be a piece of drug paraphernalia. Examples of items that can count as drug paraphernalia include:
- Glass, wooden, and metal pipes;
- Elaborate smoking systems, such as water pipes and “bongs;”
- Pill bottles;
- Plastic baggies;
- Rolling papers;
- Glass vials;
- Razor blades;
- Kitchen scales;
- Cocaine freebase kits; and
- Roach clips.
Proving a Drug Paraphernalia Charge
As you can see from the list above, many of the items that can lead to a drug paraphernalia charge have non-drug related uses as well. For example, an individual might use rolling papers or a pipe to smoke tobacco or a kitchen scale to weigh food portions. In order to find an individual guilty of the possession of drug paraphernalia, the court must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual had the item specifically for use with illegal drugs and that the item was used to manufacture, transport, or consume illegal drugs.
To prove that an item is a piece of drug paraphernalia, the court may connect it to other evidence found with the item, such as pieces of related paraphernalia or the illegal drug itself. Testimony from witnesses, instructions for the item’s use, and how the item was presented and sold to the possessor can all be used to support a claim that an item is a piece of drug paraphernalia.
Penalties for a Drug Paraphernalia Possession Conviction
In Texas, possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class C misdemeanor. The penalty for this conviction under the Texas Controlled Substances Act is a fine of up to $500. Selling drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties for which are:
- p to $4,000 in fines; and
- Up to one year in prison.
Selling drug paraphernalia to a minor and committing repeat paraphernalia sales offenses are both felony-level charges. Individuals convicted of a felony drug paraphernalia sale charge can face the following penalties:
- For a repeat offense, a minimum of 90 days in jail; and
- For selling drug paraphernalia to a minor, a minimum of 180 days in jail and a maximum of two years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
Why Do I Need a Defense Lawyer to Handle my Drug Paraphernalia Charge?
A charge for possession of drug paraphernalia is not the same as a conviction of possession of drug paraphernalia. If you are charged with this offense, an experienced lawyer can make use of the available evidence and lack thereof to demonstrate your innocence to the court.
As we discussed above, many items that can be considered to be drug paraphernalia also have legal uses. Your legal right to own a certain item, such as a glass pipe for smoking tobacco, can be defended by showing that you use the item for legal purposes. If a pill bottle leads to an accusation of storing pills like Oxycontin, your prescription for the drug can show that you are legally permitted to possess and consume that substance.
A drug paraphernalia charge is not as simple as it might initially seem. There are many ways you can unknowingly incriminate yourself through what you say to law enforcement or the court. A lawyer has experience defending individuals facing this type of charge and can coach you through these interactions to potentially have your charge reduced or dismissed.
Work with an Experienced Collin County Drug Crimes Lawyer
To give your case the best possible chance of resulting in a favorable ruling, you need to work with an experienced Collin County drug offense attorney. Contact our team at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today to set up your free confidential consultation in our office to learn more about what you can expect from the criminal justice process and how we can help you.