POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA
Memphis Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer
Drug paraphernalia charges often accompany drug possession and drug distribution charges. In fact, many people assume that drug paraphernalia charges are not as serious as a drug possession or drug distribution offense. In fact, some individuals may willingly plead to a drug paraphernalia charge as opposed to risking a conviction for a drug possession charge.
While a drug paraphernalia charge may not carry the same stigma associated with drug possession charges, you should still consult with a Tennessee criminal defense attorney for pleading to such a charge. A conviction for drug paraphernalia is still a serious matter and can result in significant penalties. Contact the Memphis criminal defense law firm of Douglass & Runger, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, to learn more.
WHAT IS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA?
In common terms, drug paraphernalia can be anything that is used in connection with the use or distribution of drugs. Most individuals correctly equate “drug paraphernalia” with items like bongs and smoking pipes. These items are certainly drug paraphernalia as they are used to consume drugs or introduce drugs into the human body. But they are by no means the only examples of paraphernalia.
Ordinary, everyday items are routinely considered paraphernalia by law enforcement. Syringes, spoons, and plastic baggies are common, everyday items that often result in drug paraphernalia charges. When it comes to drug paraphernalia, the intent of the person possessing the alleged paraphernalia matters.
WHAT DRUGS ARE COVERED BY THE DRUG POSSESSION LAW?
Drugs covered by Tennessee’s drug possession laws include dangerous substances like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine as well as less-dangerous substances like marijuana and certain prescription drugs. The specific drugs that are prohibited are contained in “schedules” (or lists) in the law that are periodically updated.
Law enforcement officers can be over-eager and charge someone with possessing a drug when the “drug” is not listed in the schedules. It is important to have your case evaluated by a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can verify whether your drug is actually prohibited by law.
WHY BOTHER FIGHTING DRUG PARAPHERNALIA CHARGES?
Some individuals consider it too great a hassle to bother fighting drug paraphernalia charges. As a result, they readily accept a prosecutor’s offer to plead guilty to the offense in exchange for leniency in sentencing. In some cases, this may make sense and be the best possible resolution of a person’s criminal charges. Accordingly, before you plead to a drug paraphernalia charge, you and your attorney should examine:
- What do they allege is the item of paraphernalia? Was there even such an item near me at the time I was arrested or stopped?
- Did I ever “possess” the item of paraphernalia; in other words, did I ever have the item of paraphernalia within my ability to control it?
- Did I intend to use the item as paraphernalia? What evidence does the government have to suggest that the spoon, baggie, or other item was possessed by me with the specific intention of using that item in connection with drug activity? Such evidence may include:
- Statements made to police or overheard by police;
- Residue of drugs or illegal substances on the paraphernalia;
- Proximity of the paraphernalia to drugs;
- Prior convictions for drug paraphernalia;
- Testimony from “experts” who say what the item is commonly used for.
A conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia can be punished by nearly one year in jail and/or significant fines. Depending on your school or employer, there may be additional, non-judicial consequences that stem from a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia. Not only this, a person convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia will have a criminal record that will follow him or her throughout his or her educational and/or professional career.