Former State Prosecutor
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When a person is arrested for a drug offense, officers likely will look to add whatever additional charges could apply. For instance, if a person is arrested for possession of marijuana and he or she has a pipe as well, an officer also could charge the person with possession of drug paraphernalia.
In most cases, the offense would be considered a misdemeanor. Although the charge seems minor, it could have long-term affects on a person's life. In addition to facing jail time and fines, a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia could mean a criminal record, which is a heavy burden. The best way to avoid the hassle is to avoid a conviction.
Facing criminal charges can be difficult, no matter the severity of the offense. If you have been arrested for possessing or selling drug paraphernalia, contact a St. Petersburg drug defense lawyer at Morris Law Firm, P.A.. We can help you fight the charges and work to keep your record clean.
Possession of drug paraphernalia is a common misdemeanor offense, which most likely accompanies a possession of a controlled substance charge. Attorney Melinda Morris is a former State Assistant Attorney who was responsible for prosecuting a range of drug offenses. She knows what it takes to build a strong defense in your case.
Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients throughout Pinellas County and the entire Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee and Sarasota County. Call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free consultation about your drug paraphernalia case.
It is unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia, according to Florida Statutes Annotated §893.147. This includes any tools used to inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance.
Items that could be considered drug paraphernalia often include household items and items designed for tobacco use. Some of the most common items considered drug paraphernalia include:
Additionally, things used to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain or conceal a controlled substance could be considered drug paraphernalia. This could apply even if the item was not intended for drug use. These paraphernalia items could include:
Possession of drug paraphernalia is a first-degree misdemeanor, according to Florida Statutes Annotated §893.147. The offense is punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.
Some of these materials are not necessarily drug paraphernalia on its own, such as vials or household chemicals. However, when combined with other things it could be considered paraphernalia. For example, if a person has large amounts of marijuana, a scale and several baggies it could be argued the items were used for packing and storing the substance.
In determining whether an object is considered drug paraphernalia, a court or other authority or jury shall consider, in addition to all other logically relevant factors, the following:
It is unlawful for any person to deliver, possess with intent to deliver, or manufacture with intent to deliver items or tools, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, it will be used as drug paraphernalia.
This is an interesting aspect of the law considering smoke shops are located throughout Florida. However, these businesses are not illegal and neither are the items they sell. For example, rolling papers and pipes can be sold for tobacco use. The store owners cannot, however, market the items for illegal use.
Store owners cannot place advertisements in newspapers, magazines, handbills or other publications showcasing the items being used as drug paraphernalia. Doing so could mean first-degree misdemeanor charges, which could carry up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.
Additionally, if prosecutors can prove the store owners were aware the items would be used illegally, they could face charges of delivery of drug paraphernalia. This is a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both.
The charges, however, are more severe if the paraphernalia was sold or distributed to a minor, someone younger than 18 years old. This likely would be considered a second-degree felony, which could carry up to 10 years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.
It is unlawful for any person to sell or deliver hypodermic syringes, needles or other objects designed for use in injecting substances into the human body to any person under 18 years of age. There are exceptions for licensed practitioners, parents, legal guardians and pharmacists who do so for valid prescriptions. This charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.
One of the most important aspects of a drug paraphernalia case is proving the person charged with the offense was in control of the item. There are two ways in which prosecutors can argue a person was in control: actual possession or constructive possession.
Actual possession means the object was on the person, such as a pipe in his or her pocket. Constructive possession means the object was in a place in which the accused had control over, like under the seat of a vehicle. These are two areas in which the defense can create a strong argument against the charges.
An experienced drug defense attorney can examine your case to determine if law enforcement officers found the items through a valid legal search or if they violated your Fourth Amendment rights. Additionally, in some instances a skilled attorney can argue the alleged paraphernalia was not indented for any illegal use.
Due to the serious and severe consequences of being convicted of a drug offense, hiring a criminal defense attorney can become a life-altering decision. Morris Law Firm, P.A. is well equipped to represent a client in cases concerning drug charges, including possession of drug paraphernalia. Act now to consult with a lawyer and find out how to best protect your rights and future opportunities. Call (727) 388-4736.
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