Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia

If you are facing charges of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia in California, then, a police officer has decided that you are in violation of California Health and Safety Code 11364 HS.  Simply put, this law makes it illegal for a person to have in his or her possession any pipe, device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia that is intended for use to smoke, ingest, or inject a controlled substance.  It may also include possession of any equipment that is being used to grow, process store, or conceal illegal drugs.

Common Types of Drug Paraphernalia

Different types of illegal substances call for different methods of ingesting them into the body.  Law enforcement officials are trained to look for these objects as a sign of a person with a drug dependency problem.  If any are found, the officer can place you under arrest for possession of paraphernalia.  Different types of controlled substances necessitate different types of items used to ingest it:

  • Methamphetamines, or meth:  With meth, the most common types of paraphernalia found are pipes either homemade or store bought.  Police officers will also look for metal spoons with charred marks, light bulbs, and aluminum foil.  All of these items can be used to make a pipe or a bong.
  • Marijuana, pot, or weed: Pipes and bongs are common drug paraphernalia items associated with pot, as are rolling papers and roach clips.  Scales and baggies are usually associated with an intent to sell and are big red flags to law enforcement.
  • Cocaine and Heroin, or crack, coke and smack:  Glass pipes are associated with crack use, while straws, rolled up dollar bills, and razors and mirrors are common items associated with inhaling these types of drugs.  Spoons, needles, syringes, and tubing is used for injection.

In addition, a person may be charged with illegal drug paraphernalia possession if he or she is found to have devices commonly used to transport and distribute illegal substances, such as capsules, plastic baggies, and balloons.

As you can see, many items on the known drug paraphernalia list are common items that have many purposes.  For this reason, a prosecutor must be able to prove that you knew the item’s intent was as drug paraphernalia, you knew of its existence, and you exercised some level of control over it.

The Penalty for Violating Code 11364 HS

An unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia conviction in California is considered a misdemeanor.  The evidence and facts of your case make a difference in sentencing as does your prior criminal background.

If the paraphernalia in your possession is typically used to manufacture or distribute drugs, you could be facing further charges such as a violation of code 11351 HS or 11352 HS, which carries much stiffer penalties.

The maximum punishment for illegal possession of drug paraphernalia is 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Drug diversion is available for some defendants facing these charges.  By entering a guilty plea and by successfully completing a drug rehabilitation program, the charges will be dismissed by the judge.  Only defendants who are not facing other criminal charges, especially an intent to sell or manufacture charge, are eligible for this type of sentencing, as it is designed to help those who are facing addiction.

Common Defenses

You do have defense options when facing the illegal possession of drug paraphernalia charge.  There are times when a piece of foil is nothing more than just a piece of foil.  Your attorney will review your case with you to determine if one of these defense options fits with the details of your case:

  • The intent was not to use the item to ingest drugs.  With so much ambiguity in what constitutes drug paraphernalia, this could be a viable option.
  • The item in question is used for a medical condition.  Some medical conditions do require needles and syringes in their treatment.  So long as you don’t carry more than ten at a time and you received them from an authorized source like a pharmacy, then, you are not in violation of the law.
  • You were unaware of its ulterior purpose.  For a person with no criminal past or history of drug abuse, a spoon is only a spoon.  This defense is often used with first time offenders.
  • The search and seizure procedure can also be in question.  Federal law makes it a crime for a law enforcement agent to randomly pull over a car based on a feeling.  How you were arrested could play strongly in your defense.

If you are found to be not guilty or the charges are dropped, your California attorney can help you get them back.

In order to get the minimum sentence allowed or to have the charges dismissed altogether, you should have an experienced attorney by your side.  The attorney knows the laws surrounding illegal possession, and he or she can help you see to it that your rights are being recognized in this case.

Call (888) 250-2865 today to get in touch with a skilled attorney for a free case evaluation.

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