Drug Paraphernalia: Florida’s Drug Crime Without the Drugs
If you are arrested for drug trafficking, possession, manufacturing, and any other activities involving controlled substances, you probably expect to face serious punishment for a conviction. What you may not know is that you could be charged with Florida drug crimes even when you have none or just trace amounts on your person. The Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act prohibits possession of drug paraphernalia. You be charged with a crime when you least expect it, and face penalties that are more severe than you think. An overview of possession of drug paraphernalia may be useful in helping you understand this unique type of drug offense.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Defined
In general, drug paraphernalia is any equipment, tool, or substance intended for the consumption, harvesting, growing, manufacturing, or related activities associated with controlled substances. The definition encompasses:
- Bongs, pipes, or utensils used to inhale a drug;
- Hypodermic needles for drug injection;
- Scales and devices for measuring controlled substances;
- Containers to store or conceal drugs, including plastic bags;
- Papers for rolling joints;
- Cutting utensils for dividing controlled substances;
- Blenders, spoons, and mixing tools;
- Screens for filtering smoke;
- Roach clips;
- Vials; and,
- Any other device associated with illegal use or production of controlled substances.
Note that you can be charged for drug paraphernalia possession even if you are not violating any of Florida’s laws on possession, trafficking, or production of controlled substances. Even a brand-new, never-used pipe could subject you to arrest if the circumstances suggest an intent to commit a drug crime.
Penalties for a Drug Paraphernalia Conviction
If you are charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, the crime is a First Degree Misdemeanor. Your sentence may include a year in prison, one year on probation, and a maximum fine of $1,000. Plus, you could be subject to random drug tests if you are placed on probation.
However, drug paraphernalia possession is often joined with other drug offenses in Florida. You could face the charges for possession of a controlled substance even if you do not have usable drugs on your person. The trace amount of marijuana in a bong, cocaine dust in a vial, or pollen on equipment for growing cannabis could lead to an arrest.
Possession Issues as a Defense
The key for possession of drug paraphernalia is possession. This element can present challenges for the prosecutor, who must prove that:
- You knew the paraphernalia was on your person or within your presence; and,
- You can control over the item.
You may have a defense if you share a car or home with someone, who could also have control over drugs in his or her presence. Another way to dispute the charges is through a claim of unlawful search or seizure. Police need probable cause, which can be tough to establish in a paraphernalia case.
Contact an Experienced Florida Drug Crimes Attorney About Drug Paraphernalia Charges
If you were arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, it is important to retain solid legal representation to protect your interests. For more information on these and other drug crimes, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik to set up a consultation at our Fort Lauderdale, FL office.