Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
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.
St. Petersburg Drug Paraphernalia Defense Attorney
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.
Information About Drug Paraphernalia Charges
- What is Drug Paraphernalia?
- Determining if an Item is Considered Paraphernalia
- Sale or Distribution of Paraphernalia
- Defenses to Paraphernalia Charges
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:
- Rolling papers
- Roach clips
- Crack pipes
- Water pipes
- Syringes or hypodermic needles
- Cocaine spoons
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:
- Hydroponic equipment
- Chemicals used to manufacture meth
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:
- Statements by an owner or by anyone in control of the object concerning its use
- The proximity of the object, in time and space, to a direct violation of this act
- The proximity of the object to controlled substances
- The existence of any residue of controlled substances on the object
- Direct or circumstantial evidence of the intent of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, to deliver it to persons who he or she knows, or should reasonably know, intend to use the object to facilitate a violation of this act. The innocence of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, as to a direct violation of this act shall not prevent a finding that the object is intended for use, or designed for use, as drug paraphernalia
- Instructions, oral or written, provided with the object concerning its use
- Descriptive materials accompanying the object which explain or depict its use
- Any advertising concerning its use
- The manner in which the object is displayed for sale
- Whether the owner or anyone in control of the object is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a licensed distributor of or dealer in tobacco products
- Direct or circumstantial evidence of the ratio of sales of the object or objects to the total sales of the business enterprise
- The existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community
- Expert testimony concerning its use
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.
Finding A Pinellas County Drug Paraphernalia Defense Lawyer
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.