Many people are already aware that drugs are illegal all over the country, including some of the most well-known types like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. However, a person can also be arrested for another related crime: possessing items relating to these drugs even though they aren’t in possession of the actual drug itself. A person, under federal law, is not permitted to sell or offer drug paraphernalia, mail drug paraphernalia or transport it through interstate commerce, or import or export drug paraphernalia. In many states, as little as possessing prohibited items is enough for someone to face these serious charges.
There are some objects that are found to be illegal in these crimes more often than others. Some of the most common types of paraphernalia include pipes made of glass or ceramic, water pipes and bongs, roach clips, miniature spoons that hold less than one-tenth of a cubic centimeter, and freebase cocaine kits. Certain equipment may fall under this realm as well, including scales and balances, or materials or chemicals used to “cut” the strength of narcotics.
Police Making Determinations
So, how do the police actually determine whether or not an item is drug paraphernalia? Depending on the drug items, some of them will obviously be related to drug use, such as a pipe that smells strongly like the drug being used. A police officer may make determinations based on many factors, such as descriptive materials that accompany the item, any instructions concerning the device, the manner in which it is displayed for sale, the typical use of this item in a community, and testimony of an expert witness regarding use of the item.
As you may know, the conviction of possessing or distributing drugs can be quite serious; in fact, many drug-related convictions are. However, if someone has been convicted of having drug paraphernalia, the penalties may be much less even though they are still very serious. At most, a federal conviction may be seen as quite serious and carry a prison sentence of up to three years in addition to a fine. Under state law, things may become a bit less serious. In California, you may expect to see a misdemeanor with one year at most in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000.
In some cases, you may expect to receive probation for your crime. The defendant will have to comply with orders for approximately 12 months that include maintaining employment, paying all fines, performing drug tests, and participating in a drug treatment program. In other cases, you may have to become part of a diversion program. These programs are designed to give first-time offenders the chance to make amends for the criminal activity without being convicted of a crime. The rules are much like probation, you may find.
If you are facing charges for possession of paraphernalia, it is a good idea to seek assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. These crimes could lead to many negative consequences that you should be aware of at all times. Call us today for more information on your case. At The Law Office of Peter Blair, we can help you every step of the way.