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Drug paraphernalia crimes: When could I face these charges?

Did you know that virtually anything could be "drug paraphernalia" depending on the context in which police find it. This means that if police find you in possession of marijuana, and you happen to also be in possession of a pipe along with it, you'll probably get hit with a drug paraphernalia charge.

Meanwhile, if police find you in possession of tobacco along with the same pipe -- as long as the pipe didn't have drug residue inside it -- you probably won't be charged with drug paraphernalia possession.

Here are several ways you could get charged with a crime related to drug paraphernalia

Federal drug paraphernalia charges could come about if a defendant allegedly (1) sells or offers to sell drug paraphernalia; (2) mails or transports drug paraphernalia across state lines; (3) imports or exports paraphernalia inside or outside of the United States.

In most cases, a drug paraphernalia crime will fall under the context of state law. The notion of "context" is essential to determining whether possessing a particular item is deemed to be a criminal act under state law. You might have a box of plastic baggies in your possession, and those baggies might be perfect for distributing heroin. However, they could also be great for packaging peanuts. Ultimately, if police don't find that you're also in possession of heroin, the baggies will probably not be drug paraphernalia under state and federal laws.

On the other hand, with certain types of drug paraphernalia, which can only be used for drugs, context will not matter. Also, any items with drug residue inside them will probably be seen as drug paraphernalia.

Here are a few items that might be drug paraphernalia depending on context:

  • Pipes of all variety, including water bongs and clay chillums.
  • Roach clips for holding joints and other drugs while smoking.
  • Tiny spoons used to snort cocaine.
  • Freebase kits for smoking cocaine.
  • Scales for weighing drugs.
  • Items used to package drugs.
  • Needles and syringes.
  • Any other items associated with drugs.

Prepare your defense against drug paraphernalia charges

If you are facing criminal proceedings related to drug paraphernalia, it's important that you fully understand the laws and potential punishments related to your case. This will help you prepare the best defense possible.

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Jack P. Sherman, Attorney at Law
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