Can I Go to Jail for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
Most people are aware that it is generally illegal to possess non-prescription narcotics and other illicit drugs. If the police find you with heroin, cocaine and even marijuana, you could be looking at jail time. But what about possessing tools and instruments, otherwise known as paraphernalia, related to those drugs? Read on to discover more about how you could be charged with possessing drug paraphernalia and what penalties you may be facing.
What Is Drug Paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia describes items that are used in connection with illegal drugs. Paraphernalia may be used to distribute drugs or ingest them. Federal law says that a law enforcement officer can determine if the tool or item is illegal by determining how it is typically used in the community.
For example, while it may be out of the normal to carry a spoon in your purse, you won’t necessarily be charged with drug paraphernalia despite the spoon’s possible connection with cooking drugs. You may be in possession of a scale, but can prove that you are using it for legal purposes.
Examples of drug paraphernalia include:
- Water pipes
- “Roach clips”
- Miniature spoons
- Freebase kits
- Scales and balances
- Testing equipment
- Plastic bags or balloons
You Don’t Have to Have Drugs to Break the Law
It is a common misconception that you have to be in possession of both illegal drugs and paraphernalia in order to be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. The truth of the matter is that in some instances, you can be charged only with the possession of paraphernalia if the police have reasonable suspicion that the things you have are used in conjunction with illegal drugs.
Federal law says that no person may sell or offer to sell drug paraphernalia, mail or transport drug paraphernalia between states, or import or export drug paraphernalia. Keep in mind that these laws could be broken in addition to local and state laws, depending on the circumstances.
A prosecutor will use a variety of factors to determine if the tools you are in possession of are indeed being used along with illegal drugs. For example, if you are caught with a pipe, it may be tested for drug residue. If, on the other hand, you can prove that you have a legal reason to possess certain tools, it is less likely that you will face charges.
Penalties for a Drug Paraphernalia Conviction
If you are convicted of a drug paraphernalia charge, the punishment can vary. How you are punished will depend on whether you were charged under state code or federal law. If the conviction was a federal one, for example, you are facing up to three years in prison. State laws vary, but most convictions result in a maximum of a year in jail.
If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in Atlanta, reach out to our team of criminal defense attorneys today. You are facing serious consequences and we will work to protect your rights. Call today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and let us start building your defense.