What is it?
In Texas, use or possession of drug paraphernalia is usually a class C misdemeanor. Texas Penal Code section 481.125 enumerates the different ways a person can violation this state statute, including use of paraphernalia to plant, grow, pack, repack, store, contain, or conceal marijuana. If the state can show an added element of intent to deliver or manufacture, the charge goes up from a class C to a class A misdemeanor. In most situations, a strong legal defense can result in having a charge for possession of drug paraphernalia dismissed.
What is the Penalty?
Class C misdemeanors are municipal offenses, punishable by fine only. Although not grouped with more serious county charges, class C misdemeanors are still serious criminal charges that have the potential to result in a drug conviction on your record. Drug convictions can jeopardize a person’s professional career, where you can live, and result in fines. As with any criminal case, it is best to avoid a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia whenever possible.
When Do Police Usually Charge Someone with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
Most commonly, police decide to charge someone with possession of drug paraphernalia when they are not able to bring a more serious charge, such as outright possession of marijuana. Most cases arise from a search of a person’s vehicle or home, incident to either consent to search, or reasonable suspicion based on some articulable specific facts that a search will result in finding illegal substances. For example, very commonly police find marijuana baggies, scales, grinders, or other items after getting consent to search a vehicle, or seeing an item in plain view after pulling someone over for a routine traffic violation like speeding.
How Do I Avoid Getting Charged?
1. Never consent to a search! If police have the legal authority to search, they’ll just do it without asking your permission. Never give them an opportunity to gather evidence against you by consenting to a search. If you feel they’re trying to trick you, just be respectful and say “I’m sorry but I can’t consent to any search.”
2. Hide items before police see them. If you’ve been pulled over, make sure police can’t see baggies, a grinder, bongs, or anything else associated whatsoever with marijuana use. If they see it in plain view, they have the authority to arrest you and charge you with possession of drug paraphernalia.
What if I’ve Been Charged Already?
If you have already been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in the Dallas or North Texas area, be sure to hire a lawyer that will look closely at all the evidence against you and fight vigorously for your rights. Often, a strong attorney can have the charges against you dismissed through a negotiated plea deal with the municipal prosecutor. Other times, an attorney can take your case to trial and work towards a not guilty verdict. Be sure you hire an attorney you can trust to do everything possible to keep a drug conviction off your record.