Most people who live in Texas or attend school here understand that the state has a relatively strong policy against drugs. Compared to some other states, Texas has rather strict penalties for those convicted of drug offenses ranging from possession to distribution and manufacturing.
One secondary charge often involved in both possession and distribution or trafficking charges is a paraphernalia charge. Far too many people overlook this potential legal risk, in part because paraphernalia possession is a misdemeanor offense.
However, knowing what law enforcement considers paraphernalia can help you stay safe and avoid the consequences of a paraphernalia-related criminal charge. It can also help you identify if someone in your home may have a struggle with drug use or addiction.
Anything used to consume, weigh or handle drugs is paraphernalia
Paraphernalia can mean many things to many people. The most obvious examples of paraphernalia that most people will readily recognize are a pipe used for smoking an illicit drug or perhaps a syringe for injectable drugs. These are both examples of paraphernalia that can result in criminal charges.
Any item that comes into contact with an illegal substance will likely have residue on it. If law enforcement conducts a thorough search, they may chemically test a large number of items in your household.
The results could very well be additional paraphernalia charges for items that would otherwise pass as ordinary household objects, such as butane torches or even spoons.
Some paraphernalia can increase the charges people face
You must understand that consumption tools are not the only paraphernalia prohibited in Texas. Testing kits, intended to keep people safe from accidental injury due to contaminated drugs, are also illegal. So, too, are any tools used to process, pack or handle a drug.
Scales, specialized storage containers, lighters with residue on them and even plastic baggies can result in paraphernalia charges in Texas. In fact, some of these objects can increase the charge from possession to trafficking or intent to distribute. If law enforcement can make an argument that the items they found serve the purpose of repackaging drugs for individual sale, that could mean upgraded charges.
Paraphernalia charges complicate existing drug charges
Facing one criminal charge in Texas is a scary experience. Facing two or more charges simultaneously can increase the penalties you face and the potential risk of jail time and other legal consequences. You can even wind up charged if law enforcement doesn’t find any drugs, only paraphernalia.
Possession of paraphernalia results in Class C misdemeanor charges, or, in some cases, Class A misdemeanor charges or even felony charges, with penalties ranging from a $500 fine to $10,000 in fines and up to two years in jail.
If you find yourself facing paraphernalia charges or any other drug charge, you should look into your options for a criminal defense instead of immediately seeking a plea deal. Preventing a conviction and criminal record can be the best thing you can do for yourself.