Most of us know that you could be arrested on suspicion of possessing illegal drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. However, many don’t know that a person can be charged and prosecuted for having in his or her possession items used in administering those drugs, even if they don’t possess drugs at the time. Items used to smoke or administer drugs are known as “drug paraphernalia.” Here is what you need to know about the types of drug paraphernalia that are illegal.
Identifying Drug Paraphernalia
Drug paraphernalia may vary depending on the type of drug that is being used. Paraphernalia is a term used to describe any item that is used in connection with illicit drugs. They may be used to distribute or administer or ingest drugs. This is a distinction that is crucial for someone facing paraphernalia charges particularly because everyday objects such as scales or spoons can also be used to distribute or ingest illegal drugs.
Here are a few examples of what items are considered drug paraphernalia:
Heroin: Small spoons, needles, tin foil, pipes, plastic pen case and cut-up drink straws, could all be viewed as items used to administer heroin.
Cocaine: Pipes, small mirrors, short plastic straws, rolled-up paper tubes, razor blades and lighters are some of the most common paraphernalia found among heroin users.
Ecstasy: You would probably find glow sticks, surgical or dust masks, pacifiers and lollipops that help prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching among Ecstasy users.
The actions that lead to drug paraphernalia charges in California typically depend on whether you are charged under state or federal law. It is illegal under federal law to sell or offer to sell drug paraphernalia; mail drug paraphernalia; transport the items through interstate commerce; or import or export these items.
What Are the Penalties?
The penalties generally tend to be less severe for possession of drug paraphernalia compared to drug possession or distribution. A conviction under federal law could result in a prison sentence of up to three years and a fine. Penalties may vary under state law. In California, possession of drug paraphernalia is usually charged as a misdemeanor resulting in up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
If you have been accused of possessing drug paraphernalia, you may have several defenses including that you were simply in possession of a household item that had nothing to do with drugs. This particularly holds true in cases where drugs are not found along with the other items, which might be considered as paraphernalia.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing drug paraphernalia charges, you need an experienced California criminal defense lawyer on your side who will help you prepare a solid defense and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Do not talk to the police or plead guilty. What you tell the police can and probably will be used against you. Do not post anything on social media about your case. Contact a knowledgeable defense attorney who has a successful track record of handling drug crime cases.