Possession of Paraphernalia
What Is Possession of Paraphernalia?
Possession of paraphernalia, or possession of drug paraphernalia, is a criminal charge involving items that are used in relation to drug crimes. Paraphernalia is any instrument that is used in the manufacturing, production, distribution, sale, or consumption of drugs. Examples of drug paraphernalia include:
- Certain types of smoking pipes
- "Roach clips” used to hold marijuana cigarettes
- Needles and other implements used for injecting drugs into the body
- Certain types of plastic bags or other containers used to package drugs
- Miniature spoons used for preparing drugs
- Entire “kits” used in the production of synthetic controlled substances
The penalties for possession of paraphernalia usually involve criminal fines and jail sentences of less than one year. Possession of paraphernalia is generally classified as a misdemeanor, but penalties may be enhanced under various circumstances. For example, penalties for repeat possession offenses, or for possession of paraphernalia in a school zone may resemble those for felony charges.
How Do the Police Determine Whether an Item Is Drug Paraphernalia?
With some items, it’s clear that it’s being used for drugs (for example, a pipe that smells strongly of drugs). For other items, it may not be clear right away that it is being used as drug paraphernalia. If authorities suspect that an object is connected with drug activities, they may analyze several factors, such as;
- Any descriptive materials that accompany the item, describing or depicting its use
- Any instructions (whether oral or written) concerning the item or device
- The manner in which the object is labeled and displayed for sale
- The typical use of such item in the community
- Testimony of an expert witness regarding use of the item
A common occurrence is where a retailer is selling items that are legal, but are popularly used as drug paraphernalia. A good example of this is a tobacco retailer that sells a pipe to consumers who use it to smoke illegal substances. Here, authorities may need to conduct a detailed investigation to determine whether the retailer intended to sell their product for use with drugs.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Possession of Paraphernalia Charges?
As with any criminal charge, the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is indispensible if you’re facing charges for possession of paraphernalia. Besides the criminal penalties involved, possession of drug paraphernalia can lead to many negative consequences, such as difficulties in obtaining employment. A qualified criminal defense attorney in your area can provide you much needed legal advice and representation in a court of law.
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Last Modified: 03-05-2014 04:14 PM PST
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