Drug paraphernalia is equipment used to either take illicit drugs, manufacture them or hide them from others. According to the United States Department of Justice, the possession or distribution of drug paraphernalia is illegal under federal law.
Charges for the possession of drug paraphernalia are typically less than those for possessing the substances themselves. Nevertheless, a conviction can still result in jail time and significant fines.
What are examples of drug paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia can include the following:
- Hypodermic needles
- Cocaine freebase kits
- Water pipes (bongs)
- Miniature spoons
- Cigarette papers
- Self-sealing plastic storage bags in various sizes
What are the challenges involved in bringing drug paraphernalia charges?
Some types of paraphernalia resemble household objects or have legitimate uses unrelated to drugs. For example, some people need to use hypodermic needles to take prescription medication. Most kitchens have scales and spoons. Prosecutors have to be able to prove that the person possessing the alleged paraphernalia has it for the purpose of taking illicit drugs.
What does prosecution of drug paraphernalia involve?
The more items of paraphernalia that are present in close proximity to one another, the easier it is for the prosecution to make the case that the intent behind the possession of the objects was to use or manufacture drugs.
With the proper authorization, e.g., a search warrant, authorities can confiscate items of alleged paraphernalia and test them for illicit substances. If the tests come up positive, it is easier for prosecutors to make the case that the possession of the items is illegal.
A person in possession of both substances and paraphernalia can face charges of both at the same time.