Drug paraphernalia is a broad term used to refer to any type of:
- Accessory, equipment, or product;
- That helps a person make, hide, take, or transport illegal drugs.
An example of this would be a bong. Another common example of a product that is generally associated with drugs and drug use are tiny plastic bags or “baggies.”
The overall legal issue with drug paraphernalia is that not all of it is illegal. Generally speaking, drug paraphernalia only becomes illegal once it is used for an illegal purpose. An example of this would be how many head shops or convenience stores sell rolling papers. Historically, these were intended to make it easier for a person to roll their own cigarettes. Now, they are largely used to roll cannabis joints.
It is important to note that if a person is found to be in possession of some type of drug paraphernalia, it does not necessarily mean that they are violating any laws. If they are not doing anything illegal with the paraphernalia, they could avoid legal trouble. However, there are some specific types of drug paraphernalia that are considered to be illegal based on the actual equipment itself. An example of this would be how possession of heroin needles immediately violates the law, regardless of whether any traces of the drug can be found in the needle.
Some states ban all drug paraphernalia products. An example of this would be how if you possess a pipe or a bong in the state of Wisconsin, you can face legal penalties even if it was never used. Additionally, if the charges lead to a conviction, the charges will be part of your criminal record.
What Constitutes Drug Paraphernalia In Nevada?
As previously mentioned, drug paraphernalia can be legally problematic due to the fact that some items are not immediately illegal without additional evidence of a drug crime. Context will play a large role in whether the person can be charged for owning or possessing a specific item, such as a kitchen scale.
If the item contains any drug residue, or if law enforcement has other legally obtained evidence that proves the person deals drugs, the police can confiscate the item as evidence and charge the person with a crime.
Another example of when the police may be allowed to confiscate drug paraphernalia and bring charges against a suspect is when the suspect is in possession of a lighter. Although most people would not think of a lighter as an illegal object, if a lighter is found on a person who is also carrying illegal drugs, the presence of the lighter offers further proof that the person is committing or has committed a drug crime.
It is important to note that, along with federal drug laws, there are varying state laws that may treat drug paraphernalia possession differently than other states. Additionally, the punishments associated with possessing drug paraphernalia can quickly be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. This depends on both the type and quantity of the drug that is used in connection with the drug paraphernalia.
Since cannabis legalization in Nevada in 2017, it is no longer illegal to possess cannabis paraphernalia, such as bongs. Some other examples of paraphernalia that are still illegal in the state of Nevada includes:
- Cocaine spoons;
- Water pipes;
- Substances that are used to cut cocaine;
- Drug testing kits;
- Kits that are used to grow cannabis;
- Cocaine vials; and
- Scales used to weigh controlled substances.
Is It a Crime To Possess Drug Paraphernalia In Nevada?
As previously mentioned, whether or not it is a crime to possess specific drug paraphernalia depends on a particular state’s laws. This is due to the fact that the laws concerning drug paraphernalia vary widely from state to state. What this means is that while it may be a crime to be in possession of any kind of drug paraphernalia in Wisconsin or Wyoming, it may be legal to own or possess items in states that have legalized cannabis. An example of this would be possessing grinders, bowls, or bongs in Colorado or California.
Some federal laws criminalize possession of a specific type of drug paraphernalia. An example of this would be previously mentioned heroin needles. Some other common examples include, but may not be limited to:
- Crack pipes;
- Meth pipes;
- Cocaine spoons; and
- Any other product that could be used as drug paraphernalia and has drugs (or drug residue) on it that are inherently illegal.
In short, yes, it is a crime to possess drug paraphernalia in the state of Nevada. It is considered to be illegal to have drug paraphernalia in your possession, when it is to be used to consume illegal drugs. In Nevada, possession of drug paraphernalia is generally classified as a misdemeanor crime; penalties may be enhanced in certain circumstances.
However, it is important to note that having drug paraphernalia in your possession cannot be a felony charge in Nevada, no matter if the penalties have been enhanced due to aggravating factors.
How Can I Be Found Guilty Of Possessing Drug Paraphernalia In Nevada? What Is the Penalty For Nevada Misdemeanor Possession and Use Of Drug Paraphernalia?
To reiterate, drug paraphernalia in Nevada is defined as any kind of equipment or materials that are intended for the manufacture, storage, or ingestion of illegal drugs. In order to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for possessing drug paraphernalia, Clark County courts will generally consider several factors.
Some examples of such factors include, but may not be limited to:
- Any prior convictions, such as drug convictions, for anyone possessing the alleged paraphernalia;
- Whether the alleged paraphernalia contains illegal drug residue;
- The manner in which the alleged paraphernalia was displayed for sale;
- An expert’s testimony regarding the use of the alleged paraphernalia;
- Proximity of the alleged paraphernalia to controlled/illegal substances;
- Whether the alleged paraphernalia came with usage instructions which indicated that it was to be used with a controlled substance;
- Any incriminating statements that were made by the accused, associated with the alleged paraphernalia; and/or
- Any other evidence, whether direct or circumstantial, regarding the intent of the person in possession of the alleged paraphernalia. The factor of intent could be crucial in terms of potential defenses to the charge of possessing drug paraphernalia in Nevada.
It is a misdemeanor in Nevada to use, or possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia. Penalties for a misdemeanor for simple possession include:
- Up to six months spent in a county jail;
- Up to $1,000 in criminal fines; or
- A combination of both county jail time and a fine.
Intentionally advertising drug paraphernalia results in the same penalties. Selling or possessing drug paraphernalia in Nevada is generally penalized less than possessing or selling the actual drugs themselves, as long as children are not involved.
Paraphernalia possession in Nevada becomes a felony when a person:
- Sells, delivers, or manufactures the paraphernalia;
- When they know, or should have known;
- That it will be used for producing, storing, or consuming illegal drugs.
The same applies to the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use. The standard penalty includes one to four years in a federal prison facility, as well as potential fines of up to $5,000.
It is also a felony in Nevada for someone the age of eighteen or over to allegedly deliver drug paraphernalia to someone else, who is both under the age of eighteen and at least three years younger than the accused. Potential penalty ranges include:
- One to five years spent in Nevada state prison;
- A potential fine not to exceed $10,000; and/or
- Potential restitution for the costs of the minor enrolling in a substance abuse program.
Do I Need An Attorney If I Was Charged With a Drug Crime In Nevada?
If you are being accused of possession and use of drug paraphernalia in Nevada, you will need to consult with an experienced and local Nevada drug attorney. A local lawyer will be best suited to helping you understand how Nevada’s laws will affect your legal options.
An experienced and local criminal defense attorney will be able to determine whether any legal defenses are available to you, and how to assert the defense on your behalf. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, while protecting your legal rights.