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When a person is caught by police doing illegal drugs, or in possession of illegal drugs, they may face charges for possession of drug paraphernalia in addition to drug charges. Drug paraphernalia, like illegal drugs, carry serious criminal penalties in many jurisdictions, simply for possession.
Drug paraphernalia includes such things as pipes, vaporizers, bongs, rolling papers, and other smoking implements meant to be used with illegal drugs. Additionally, syringes, spoons, measuring scales, razor blades, and other arguably common items can be considered paraphernalia as well, depending on the context. Basically, anything that is used to ingest illegal drugs can be considered paraphernalia.
How Serious Are Drug Paraphernalia charges?
In most states throughout the country, possession of drug paraphernalia is treated as a misdemeanor offense, which means that a person generally won't be looking at more than one year in jail for that offense. However, under federal law, drug paraphernalia charges are felonies, punishable by up to 3 years in prison. But, under federal law, selling or transporting paraphernalia online, across state lines, can result in felony charges.
However, there is no federal law against purchasing or possessing paraphernalia. Possession laws are generally left up to the individual states to decide.
State Laws on Possession of Paraphernalia
State laws vary widely for paraphernalia possession. Because of the wave of states legalizing marijuana, many states have relaxed laws regarding marijuana paraphernalia, while still treating illegal drug paraphernalia as criminal.
For example, in Washington, D.C., there is no penalty for simple possession of marijuana paraphernalia, but a syringe can lead to 6 months and a misdemeanor. While in Arizona, treats simple possession of paraphernalia as a felony punishable by up to 2 years in jail. Meanwhile, Alabama, simple possession is only a misdemeanor, however, if the paraphernalia is used, it can become a felony charge with a maximum sentence of 10 years.
If you are facing charges for drugs or drug paraphernalia, don't delay seeking legal help. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help.