Drug Violations Law

Sentencing for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Possession of drug paraphernalia is one of the most charged drug crimes in the United States. While there are no federal criminal charges for actual possession of paraphernalia, the act is criminalized as a misdemeanor offense in most states.

Additionally, states can impose harsher sentences depending on the specific circumstances of a case. For example, possessing paraphernalia with the intent to sell can be a compounding offense, carrying longer jail times and fines than being caught with a pipe or baggie for personal use.

As expected, the sentencing guidelines for controlled substance-related crimes vary between jurisdictions. While this article will broadly cover some of the punishments associated with this crime, it is best to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney who practices in the jurisdiction where you were charged.

Possession For Drug Paraphernalia Charges

Possession of drug paraphernalia laws vary from state to state. While many states punish these violations similarly in the courts, the statutory language defining “drug paraphernalia” and sentencing can deviate depending on the state you are charged in. Most jurisdictions classify possession of drug paraphernalia as a misdemeanor offense.

The growing trend of marijuana legalization has further complicated the matter, as some states no longer punish possession of marijuana paraphernalia as harshly as in the past. Below is a list of items that, depending on the jurisdiction, can be construed as drug paraphernalia:

  • Devices used for the creation of illegal drugs (including carburetors, carburetion masks, vials, and blenders)
  • Baggies for storing illegal drugs
  • Instruments for marijuana use (including roach clips, water pipes, bongs, chillums, and rolling papers)
  • Instruments for heroin use (including spoons, hypodermic needles, and hypodermic syringes)
  • Instruments for methamphetamine use (including ice pipes, bongs, lighters, spoons, and straws)

Criminal Sentencing for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Federal law prohibits the selling, mailing, and importing or exporting of drug paraphernalia. Violating these rules can result in a felony conviction punishable by up to three years in jail and a hefty fine. Still, no federal law criminalizes the simple “possession” of drug paraphernalia.

Sentencing at the State Level

Most jurisdictions in the United States treat possession of drug paraphernalia as a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to a year in county jail. It is often charged in addition to simple drug possession.

As stated above, marijuana legalization has led to less consistency in what constitutes illegal drug paraphernalia. For example, in Illinois (where marijuana is legal), being found in possession of a bong for personal use of marijuana should not result in a conviction. Alternatively, being found in possession of a meth pipe is a criminal violation, punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 or more in fines. But simply because it is legal in one state does not mean that you are safe to buy it and cross state lines into a state where it is not legal.

In Texas, possession of paraphernalia, if it is your first offense without a prior, is a Class C Misdemeanor and is punishable by community service and a fine not to exceed $500. However, repeated violations can lead to more severe penalties down the road. These subtle differences in penalties among the states help illustrate the importance of having an expert attorney.

The Benefit of an Experienced Drug Crime Attorney

Crimes involving drug use are complicated legal matters. They require the focus and dedication of an expert. A local drug criminal defense lawyer will look at your case’s facts and circumstances and apply their legal knowledge and expertise. Consider seeking a local attorney today to help secure the best legal outcome for your future.

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