Drug Paraphernalia

People found to be in possession of marijuana bongs, needles, large quantities of small baggies, large amounts of cash, doobie or roach clips, scales, grinders, and other such devices could be arrested and charged with for possession of drug paraphernalia. Possession of drug paraphernalia in itself is a non-jailable misdemeanor, but if the offender has a previous criminal history or was attempting to deliver the devices to a minor, felony charges will apply.

As a result, anyone facing drug-based charges should contact an experienced Texas defense attorney right away.

Austin Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer | Travis County, TX

If you have been arrested for drug paraphernalia in Austin, TX, its imperative you seek legal counsel immediately. A drug crime accusation in Texas can have serious direct and indirect consequences that haunt you for years to come, but it doesn’t have to be. Secure the representation of an experienced Travis County criminal defense attorney today by contacting Jackson F. Gorski at The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski today.

Call 512-960-4646 to schedule your first consultation. Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin and Georgetown but accepts clients throughout Texas including Travis County, Williamson County, Bell County, Bastrop County, Burnett County, Hays County, Caldwell County, Blanco County, Lee County, Milam County, Hays County, and Caldwell County.

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Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Texas

Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.125 makes it a criminal offense to own, use, deliver, or distribute drug paraphernalia. Similarly, under Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.002(17), “drug paraphernalia” can be defined as items, equipment, products, or articles used to do any of the following while relating to a controlled substance:

  • Planting
  • Propagating
  • Cultivating
  • Growing
  • Harvesting
  • Manufacturing
  • Compounding
  • Converting
  • Producing
  • Processing
  • Preparing
  • Testing
  • Analyzing
  • Packaging or repackaging
  • Storing
  • Containing
  • Concealing

The list of items considered “drug paraphernalia” is extremely extensive. In essence, if an individual uses a common item in connection with drugs, there is a decent chance that the item may rise to the definition of drug paraphernalia. That said, below are some common examples of items often connected to controlled substances:

  • Glassware – such as bongs or pipes used for smoking.
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Rolling Papers
  • Grinders
  • Balloons
  • Scales
  • Capsules
  • Miniature spoons
  • Roach clips
  • Torches – such as kitchen butane torches
  • Syringes or needles
  • Razorblades
  • Tin foil

The object or item must be used in connection with a controlled substance to qualify as drug paraphernalia. To convict a defendant for possession of drug paraphernalia, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly or intentionally possessed an item or article which was used in a manner related to an illegal controlled substance.

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Penalties For Possessing, Using, Or Delivering Drug Paraphernalia

Under Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.125, drug paraphernalia offenses may range from a Class C misdemeanor to a state jail felony.

  • Regular possession or use of drug paraphernalia is a Class C misdemeanor. Conviction of a class C misdemeanor may result in a fine of up to $500.
  • These charges can be aggravated to a class A misdemeanor if a defendant distributes drug paraphernalia to an individual that they know will use the item as drug paraphernalia. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.
  • Further aggravation of the charges is available where a defendant distributes drug paraphernalia to a minor who is at least three years younger than the defendant. This elevates the severity of the crime to a state jail felony, which may result in a jail sentence between 180 days and two years. Additionally, the defendant may also face up to a $10,000 fine.

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Drug Paraphernalia As A Separate Charge

In addition to the possession or delivery of drug paraphernalia charge, a defendant may also be charged with other offenses related to the drug paraphernalia. For example, suppose a small amount of burned but identifiable methamphetamine residue was discovered by law enforcement on a defendant’s glass pipe. In that case, the defendant may also be charged with possession of meth in addition to possession of drug paraphernalia. Drugs, residue, or other incriminating pieces of evidence may often be found with drug paraphernalia, so facing numerous charges simultaneously is a real possibility. A knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney will know how to best mitigate these circumstances.

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Defenses To Drug Paraphernalia Offenses

A straightforward but effective defense to possession of drug paraphernalia is that the item or article was not drug paraphernalia. If a prosecutor cannot prove that the item was used in connection with a controlled substance, then a drug paraphernalia charge may not stick. Some perfectly legal items may be stereotyped as drug paraphernalia because they are commonly used in connection with controlled substances. For example, suppose an individual is pulled over for a traffic stop, and a bong sits in plain sight. An officer may assume the bong’s purpose is for ingesting marijuana, but if it is used for tobacco, it will likely not be considered drug paraphernalia, as it is a perfectly legal item being used legally, so long as the individual is of legal tobacco smoking age.

Unlawful searches and seizures may counteract drug paraphernalia charges. If law enforcement violates a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights and unlawfully seizes evidence, that evidence can likely be suppressed in court. Any drug paraphernalia unlawfully seized would likely be suppressed and could not be used against the defendant in the prosecution’s case. Using the paraphernalia as evidence would likely be paramount to the prosecution’s case, so charges could potentially be dropped due to the loss of that evidence.

As a defense to drug paraphernalia delivery—or distribution—charges, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to deliver the paraphernalia to someone the defendant knew would use the object to consume or handle a controlled substance. An experienced criminal defense attorney could create doubt surrounding this intent and knowledge to damage the prosecution’s case.

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Statute Of Limitations For Drug Paraphernalia Charges

A statute of limitations is a law enacted by states and the federal government to bar criminal charges if those charges have not been brought within a defined time. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor crime is two years. This means that the prosecution has two years from the commission of the crime to file charges against a defendant. If misdemeanor charges are filed over the two-year allotment, the statute of limitations has run, and the charges may likely be barred.

Simple possession, use, or delivery of drug paraphernalia amounts to a misdemeanor. A prosecutor would have two years—usually beginning from the date of the crime’s commission—to file drug paraphernalia charges.

However, an enhanced, or aggravated, charge for drug paraphernalia is a state jail felony. In Texas, the statute of limitations for felonies is three years. This means that if an individual were caught providing or delivering drug paraphernalia to a minor who is at least three years younger than said individual, then the prosecution would have three years from the commission of the crime to file charges.

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Additional Resources

Drug Paraphernalia Fast Facts – The National Drug Intelligence Center released this document containing short but informative facts regarding drug paraphernalia for educational purposes.

Texas Health and Safety Code – Title 6, Subtitle C, Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code can be found through this link. This is the relevant Texas statute for controlled substance offenses, including drug paraphernalia offenses.

How to Identify Drug Paraphernalia – This article by “Get Smart About Drugs” provides parents, teachers, educators, and caregivers some light reading about ordinary items that may be drug paraphernalia. This resource also elaborates on what objects may be used with specific substances.

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Georgetown Drug Paraphernalia Attorney | Williamson County, TX

Being arrested for any drug crime involving a controlled substance is no laughing matter. Aside from jail, fines, and losing your driving privileges, having a drug offense on your record will make every police officer who conducts a traffic stop on you in the future more interested in searching your vehicle. As with all drug offenses, fighting the charge if often the best option.

The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski provides it’s clients with excellent legal representation, effective & actionable advice, and an overall professional experience. If you’re ready to get started fighting for your freedom and your good name, call Attorney Jackson F. Gorski’s office by calling 512-960-4646.

Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin and Georgetown.

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