By: Mark Diaz
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What Items Are Considered Drug Paraphernalia in Texas?
It is against the law in Texas to possess, sell, or manufacture drug paraphernalia. This article includes many things. Being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia can often come with other drug charges. If you have been charged with drug possession, now is the time to contact a lawyer. Our Galveston drug possession lawyers at Mark Diaz & Associates can help you.
Table of Contents
What Is Drug Paraphernalia Under Texas Law?
State law says that owning, delivering, or using drug paraphernalia is against the law. According to Texas Health and Safety Code 481.002(17), drug paraphernalia is equipment, products, or materials used to plant, cultivate, manufacture, produce, process, package, store, or conceal illegal drugs.
An object used to inhale, inject, or consume a controlled substance is considered drug paraphernalia. Examples of things that law enforcement may consider drug paraphernalia are:
- Plastic containers
- Plastic baggies
- Roach clips
- UV lights
- Rolling papers
Drug paraphernalia charges can be filed if the police think you were using or selling drugs but are not carrying them. Drug paraphernalia can be almost anything if it can be tied to the use or intended use of a controlled substance or the selling/manufacturing of a controlled substance.
What Are Texas Penalties for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia?
It is against the law in Texas to use, possess, or deliver illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia. If you are convicted of using or having these items, you are guilty of a Class C misdemeanor. In addition, the fine for this crime is up to $500.
It is also illegal to deliver or manufacture drug paraphernalia. If you are convicted of delivering or trying to deliver drug paraphernalia, it is a Class A misdemeanor. You can receive up to a year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
Also, if you deliver or try to deliver drug paraphernalia to anyone under 18, you could be facing a state jail felony offense. The punishment range for this offense is no less than 6 months and up to 2 years in a state jail and a possible fine of up to $10,000.
You might think that possessing drug paraphernalia is a minor crime. However, this charge can lead to charges for drug possession or drug trafficking. The penalties for these crimes can be severe.
Possession and Losing Your Driver’s License
Additional penalties are possible if you are convicted of possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia. You could lose your Texas driver’s license. Even if you were not driving during the arrest, you could lose your license for six months. If you are under 21, you may lose it for one year.
What About Convenience Stores and Smoke Shops?
A common issue with drug paraphernalia charges in Texas is that some of these items have legitimate uses that are not illegal. For instance, if you are caught with a spoon in your pocket, the police may say you are using it to inject drugs. But a spoon also can be used for innocent purposes.
Also, in Texas, head shops and smoke shops sell rolling paper, water pipes, and vaporizers. A water pipe can be used for aromatic herbs or tobacco. Rolling papers are popular for people to roll their own cigarettes.
It is difficult for the police in Texas to raid these stores with the intent of catching drug offenders. So, many shops are in a legal gray zone. For example, if you bought rolling papers in a smoke shop, your Galveston drug possession attorney can argue that you bought them to roll your own cigarettes and simply save money.
However, if you go to a head shop and purchase a bong, it could be considered drug paraphernalia by the police if you are stopped. Therefore, putting these types of purchases in your trunk before driving home is best. Some convenience stores also sell rolling papers or water pipes behind the counter that could be used for illegal drugs.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer for A Drug Possession or Paraphernalia Charge
If you are serious about a prosperous future, you should hire an attorney when facing a drug possession or paraphernalia charge. But unfortunately, some may think that ‘only’ being convicted of a Class C misdemeanor is not a big problem.
But if you want to prevent having a conviction on your record, hiring an attorney is advised. Your lawyer may be able to get a Class C misdemeanor dismissed or could make the citation eligible to be an expunction later.
Possible Defenses for a Drug Paraphernalia Charge
The law requires you to possess the paraphernalia to be convicted knowingly. So, if the prosecutor cannot show that you were aware you possessed the items, you are not guilty. Your attorney can represent you in Galveston for this charge and demand the prosecutor produce evidence that you knew you had drug paraphernalia. It is not uncommon for these cases to be dismissed because there needs to be more evidence.
Also, the police must have probable cause to search you in the first place. In many situations, the police may pull you over without sufficient justification. The evidence may be inadmissible if your attorney can show this in court.
In addition, the prosecutor must prove that you possessed the paraphernalia intending to use them with illegal drugs. As noted above, there are legitimate reasons to possess what some may consider drug paraphernalia, such as a glass bong or rolling papers.
If the police allege you had illegal drugs on you, your attorney might argue that there is insufficient evidence that the substances are illicit. After an arrest, suspected drugs will be confiscated and sent to a laboratory for testing. Unfortunately, there are cases where the lab equipment does not work correctly. Or, the sample might be lost, mislabeled, or even destroyed.
Last, the prosecution must prove the drug paraphernalia or drug possession charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if these illegal items are found in your car, does that always prove that they are yours and you knew they were there? If you went into your car now, how many things are in there that you did not know were there?
If you drive friends or family in your vehicle, it is possible that someone left an illegal item in the car. You could have drug paraphernalia under the passenger seat for months that you did not know about. Your attorney may try to argue that there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs or paraphernalia are yours. However, the burden of proof is on the state. They cannot convict you if there is any reasonable doubt about possessing these illegal items.
Other Penalties for Drug Possession
You could face other charges if you are charged with drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. For example, taxes have to be paid on illegal drugs. So if you are caught with a lot of illicit drugs, you can be charged with tax evasion.
The police also can seize property that it says is intended to be used to commit a drug felony. For example, they could theoretically seize your car, home, or other belongings where they say you could hide drugs. Note that asset forfeiture is a civil action. It is not criminal in nature, so the state does not have to convict you to seize property.
What About Marijuana Possession in Texas?
Many states are relaxing laws on marijuana possession. For example, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said in recent years that Texas should look at loosening laws that criminalize carrying a small amount of marijuana.
However, possessing small quantities of weed is still a crime under Texas law. If you are in possession of less than 4 ounces, it is a misdemeanor. If you have more than 4 ounces, it can be charged as a felony.
Will I Need to Go to Jail On a Drug Possession Charge?
Drug possession is more serious than possessing drug paraphernalia. You may have to go to jail, but much depends on your previous criminal history. There is a chance you can avoid jail if you possessed a small amount of drugs on a first offense.
Contact Our Galveston Drug Possession Lawyers Today
Were you charged with drug possession or drug paraphernalia possession in Galveston near Moody Mansion, the Bryan Museum, or another location? You may be overwhelmed with fear and concerned about your future. These are serious charges, but there are often viable defenses to them. Contact our Galveston drug possession lawyers at Mark Diaz & Associates for help. Call today at (409) 515-6170.