Drug Paraphernalia Offenses
Following tips received in 2012, Lancaster police conducted surveillance of residences in the 500 block of Pershing Avenue that intelligence sources said were drug houses. After months of surveillance and corroboration, the investigating officers secured search warrants and in January, 2013 raided two homes believed to be centers of drug trafficking. Despite ample probable cause underlying the search warrants, law enforcement personnel failed to find any drugs.
They did, however, find indicia of drug dealing in the form of paraphernalia — marijuana and cocaine packaging materials, as well as $5,000 in cash. On the basis of this evidence, the police officers arrested two suspects, whom they subsequently charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
The elements of a drug paraphernalia charge
A judge or jury can convict you of a drug paraphernalia possession charge if they find — beyond a reasonable doubt — that you knew or reasonably should have known that the paraphernalia would be used for the preparation, manufacturing, testing, packing, storing or using of controlled substances. In Pennsylvania, possession, possession with the intent to deliver and the actual delivery of certain drug paraphernalia are all criminal offences with which the prosecution can charge you as stand-alone crimes.
Which kinds of products are drug paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia includes items such as baggies, balloons, balances, blenders, bongs, pipes, capsules, drug kits, needles, rolling papers, scales, spice grinders and syringes. These are often contentious and difficult to prove charges. In this instance, there could be many explanations for why someone has a large amount of cash on hand. Likewise, “packaging materials” alone are often everyday household items such as sandwich baggies. Skilled criminal attorneys are able to cast appropriate doubt on flimsy charges lodged by the prosecutor.
Sentencing for drug paraphernalia offenses
The misdemeanor offense of possession of drug paraphernalia may result in a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of no more than $2,500. If you deliver drug paraphernalia to a minor at least three years younger than you, you face a maximum prison sentence of two years and a $5,000 fine.
A drug paraphernalia conviction carries serious consequences. It is therefore vital that you retain the services of an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney immediately.