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An Overview of Drug Paraphernalia Possession Charges

Possession of drug paraphernalia may be second only to drug possession charges as one of the most common criminal charges in just about any jurisdiction. Just about anything could be considered drug paraphernalia in the right circumstances, but the most common items classified as such include bongs, glass pipes, roach clips and syringes.

Every state has laws making the use, sale and possession of drug paraphernalia illegal. These laws are so loosely written that courts can find almost any item to be drug paraphernalia. Some pieces of equipment are specifically listed, including opium and water pipes, vials, miniature spoons and hypodermic needles, along with equipment used for manufacturing, growing, weighing or packaging illegal drugs.

The following are some other factors that go into determining paraphernalia possession charges:

  • Use and intent: Many items determined to be drug paraphernalia have non-drug related uses. Therefore, courts must be able to demonstrate a specific item was being used with illegal intent to be able to classify it as paraphernalia. Again, given the loose legal definitions of paraphernalia, this typically is not much of a challenge.
  • Circumstances: To prove an object is drug paraphernalia, courts look at all of the factors surrounding the case. It is likely to be paraphernalia if it was located close to illegal drugs, if it contained any drug residue or if expert testimony reveals it is likely to have been used in the manufacturing or ingestion of illegal drugs.
  • Constructive possession: You may be convicted if paraphernalia possession if the item was on you at the time of your arrest. However, courts may also arrest you on possession charges by demonstrating constructive possession, which occurs when you are in control of an item, but do not necessarily carry it with you.
  • Intent to sell or distribute: If there was a clear intent to distribute drugs, courts are often able to tack on paraphernalia possession charges, as drug dealers are likely to be in possession of these items.

To learn more about your legal options when charged with a drug crime, speak with a trusted criminal defense attorney at David R. Eshelman: A Professional Corporation, in Reading, Pennsylvania.

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