How the law treats drug paraphernalia charges

Individuals in Texas and throughout the country can be charged with crimes related to selling or possessing drug paraphernalia. This can be true even if a person is not in possession of a controlled substance like cocaine or marijuana. The law divides paraphernalia into items used to ingest a drug and those used to distribute a drug. In some cases, it may not be clear whether a person was using an item for legal or illegal purposes.

For instance, a police officer may determine that a person was using a spoon or a scale to distribute or consume drugs. In such a scenario, context is important when deciding if an item is being used improperly. If drug residue is found on an item, it could increase the odds that it was used for an illicit purpose. Both the federal government and state governments have different lists of what they consider to be drug paraphernalia.

Typically, the penalties for possessing drug paraphernalia are less severe than those for possessing a controlled substance itself. If a person faces a state charge, the penalties depend on laws within that state while a conviction on a federal charge can carry a prison term of up to three years. Someone convicted of a drug paraphernalia charge may also be required to pay a fine.

Individuals who are charged with drug offenses may face a variety of consequences such as jail time or damage to their personal and professional reputations. Consulting with an attorney may make it easier to avoid some or all potential penalties. An attorney might challenge witness testimony or a police report used to charge an individual with a drug crime. Doing so may result in a favorable plea deal or a case being thrown out prior to trial.