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Drug Paraphernalia Law

By San Diego Attorney on May 31, 2019

In the state of California, you can be arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. Although this crime is less serious than actual drug possession, it still carries jail time.

If you have been arrested or charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, call jD LAW, P.C., at (760) 630-2000 as soon as possible to speak with an experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer. Our founder, James N. Dicks, is a former Los Angeles Police Department investigator and certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization.

What Is Drug Paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia is any type of equipment or device for use of illegal drugs. Typically, it involves devices for smoking or injecting a controlled substance. Items commonly considered drug paraphernalia include:

  • Crack or methamphetamine pipes
  • Opium pipes
  • Spoons or foil with drug residue
  • Hypodermic needles and syringes in some cases

When Are Hypodermic Needles and Syringes Not Considered Drug Paraphernalia?

Under California law, hypodermic needles have been excluded from the category of drug paraphernalia under certain conditions, as a measure to help prevent the spread of HIV, viral hepatitis, and other bloodborne diseases among needle drug users, and to help prevent infection of sexual partners, newborn children, and others. State law against drug paraphernalia does not apply to hypodermic needles or syringes, provided:

  • They are “containerized” for safe disposal in sealed cases that meet state and federal standards for disposal of sharp wastes; and
  • They were acquired solely for personal use from a physician, pharmacist, hypodermic needle and syringe exchange program, or any source authorized by law to provide sterile syringes and needles without a prescription.

What are the California Drug Paraphernalia Laws?

Under the California Health and Safety Code, Section 11364.5 HSC, except as authorized by law, it is unlawful to maintain or operate a business in which drug paraphernalia is kept, displayed, sold, transferred, or offered in any manner, or to permit anyone under the age of 18 to enter or remain in such an establishment. It is also unlawful to possess drug paraphernalia, except as authorized by law.

As stated in the statute, drug paraphernalia means “all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are intended for use or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”

What are the Penalties for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense under state law. If you are convicted of this crime, your may face up to six months of jail time. The law requires a minimum of 15 days in custody. Penalties may also include fines of up to $1,000. A conviction of drug paraphernalia possession can also affect your prospects for education and employment, now and in the future.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove to Convict You of Drug Paraphernalia Charges

The police may have found “paraphernalia” when they arrested you, but that does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted of the charges. To make them stick, the prosecution must prove that:

  • The paraphernalia was in your possession or under your control (such as in your vehicle or in your home);
  • You knew the item or items were there; and
  • You knew the item or items could be used for illegal drugs.

Possible Defenses to Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Many drug paraphernalia cases are weak, in which case the defense may prevail through simple lack of evidence. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your particular case, there are several possible defenses to charges of drug paraphernalia possession. For example:

  • The item in question may have been discovered through unlawful search or seizure.
  • The object discovered was not actually yours.
  • You did not know the item was there – it was left in your car or home by someone else.
  • You knew the item was there but did not know it could be used for illegal drugs.
  • The item was intended for a legitimate medical use (insulin injections for diabetes, for example).
  • The item was an exception under state paraphernalia laws, such as a hypodermic needle or syringe obtained through a needle exchange program.

Why You Need a Lawyer

For possession of drug paraphernalia and other drug charges, penalties in California may be excessive considering the crime. In addition to jail time, fines, and other penalties, conviction can have a serious impact on your future. If you are facing charges of drug paraphernalia possession, it is in your best interests to get an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side.

Why Choose Us?

Founded in 1990, our firm is located directly across the street from the North County Courthouse in Vista. James N. Dicks, founding partner of jD LAW, P.C., has years of experience as a police officer and narcotics investigator. He is also a drug recognition expert (DRE) who keeps current with the latest developments in the field. You can rest assured that we have the knowledge, skills, and resources to fight effectively against drug paraphernalia charges, and will aggressively pursue the best possible outcome in your case.

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Posted in: Drug Possession

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