You are probably aware that some drugs are illegal, like marijuana or heroin, but sometimes possessing items associated with drug use is illegal. Drug paraphernalia is any items that are related to the use of illegal drugs. These crimes may include innocuous items like spoons or more sinister products like needles or pipes. This article will cover the basics of what you need to know regarding these drug paraphernalia crimes.
There are two bodies of law that proscribe criminal behavior: federal and state law. The actions that can lead to these charges vary depending upon which of these bodies of law you are charged under. Generally, under federal law you may not:
- Export or import drug paraphernalia.
- Sell or try to sell paraphernalia.
- Mail or transport drug paraphernalia across state lines.
The charges you face under state law differ depending on the state. Under some state laws, mere possession of drug paraphernalia is sufficient to face criminal charges. You might be charged for possessing just the paraphernalia without any drugs. You may be charged even if you had no intention of using the paraphernalia to use drugs. These laws can be complicated and inconsistently applied.
Often part of the problem is identifying what is paraphernalia and what is not. Laws give great discretion to police officers to properly identify when to arrest and when not to. Usually, the arresting officer will rely upon the context of the item. So, theoretically, if you are arrested with a teaspoon but nothing else, you should avoid any criminal charges.
If you were recently arrested on a drug paraphernalia charge, then you may want to consult with a criminal defense attorney to review your options. Usually, you will face lighter sentencing or punishments if you were arrested with only paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia charges can easily build up against you. A successful criminal defense relies as much on contesting the facts as it is the charges.