What Is Considered Drug Paraphernalia in Texas?

Drug paraphernalia refers to any equipment, product, or material intended for use in manufacturing, packaging, storing, or consuming controlled substances. As concrete as this definition may seem, it’s actually very malleable and can be applied in many different circumstances to various objects.

Understanding the nuances of what Texas can consider drug paraphernalia is important when you’re facing criminal charges. Let’s discuss the topic in greater detail below.

Examples of Drug Paraphernalia in Texas

Texas law provides a broad definition of drug paraphernalia. According to the Texas Controlled Substances Act, drug paraphernalia includes any item used or intended to be used for growing, manufacturing, processing, packaging, storing, or consuming illegal drugs.

Such items can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Pipes and bongs: These are the most commonly recognized items. Any device used to inhale or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the body falls under this category.
  • Scales and balances: These devices often measure quantities of drugs, particularly in distribution scenarios.
  • Grinders: These devices break down marijuana or other plant material into finer particles for consumption.
  • Syringes: While syringes can have legitimate medical uses, possessing them with the intent to inject illegal drugs classifies them as paraphernalia.
  • Baggies and containers: Small plastic bags, vials, or other containers often used to package small amounts of drugs also qualify.
  • Rolling papers and cigars: Papers and cigars used to roll marijuana cigarettes fall under this category.
  • Chemical kits: Equipment or substances used to manufacture controlled substances, such as methamphetamine, are considered paraphernalia.

Determining Intent

Texas law requires that for an item to be classified as drug paraphernalia, the person must intend to use it for an illegal purpose.

Courts consider various factors when determining intent, including:

  • Statements made by the owner or person in control of the item.
  • The presence of drug residue on the item.
  • Expert testimony on the item's use.
  • How the item is displayed or advertised.

Unfortunately, many items that are considered to be drug paraphernalia have legitimate uses outside of illegal drug use. Syringes, for example, are used by those with Type 1 diabetes to inject medically necessary insulin. Additionally, those who prefer to roll their own cigarettes may have rolling papers and cigars in their possession.

Because of this, criminal defense attorneys may attack the alleged intent (or lack thereof) of a defendant who was charged with having drug paraphernalia.

Charges & Penalties for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

In Texas, possessing drug paraphernalia is a crime. The penalties vary depending on the circumstances and whether it’s a first-time offense.

Possession Charges

  • Class C Misdemeanor: Simply possessing drug paraphernalia is usually classified as a Class C misdemeanor. This offense can lead to a fine of up to $500. Although it doesn't carry jail time, it results in a criminal record.
  • Class A Misdemeanor: If you have a prior conviction for possessing drug paraphernalia, subsequent offenses can escalate to a Class A misdemeanor. This can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Manufacture or Delivery Charges

  • Class A Misdemeanor: If you manufacture or deliver drug paraphernalia, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. This includes selling or offering to sell paraphernalia. Conviction can lead to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
  • State Jail Felony: If someone over 18 sells or offers to sell drug paraphernalia to a minor under 18, it’s classified as a state jail felony. The penalties for this offense include six months to two years in a state jail facility and a fine of up to $10,000.

Enhancements & Aggravating Factors

Certain factors can enhance the severity of penalties for drug paraphernalia-related crimes in Texas, such as the proximity to a school or playground while in possession, a prior conviction, or possessing paraphernalia that’s linked to another crime, such as illegal drug use.

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

If you were charged with any crime involving drug paraphernalia, it’s important to secure experienced legal counsel. With a knowledgeable and seasoned attorney on your side, you can improve your odds of reaching the best possible outcome for your legal situation.

Our legal team at Rodriguez & Gimbert P.L.L.C. is here to provide the legal support you need during this difficult time. Contact us today to learn more.