When it comes to the law, what you don’t know can hurt you. For example, were you aware that cigarette papers count as paraphernalia? Or that you can be charged with drug offenses, even if you don’t have any on your physical person? Knowing the law can save you from fines, jail time and loss of freedom. That’s why we at PLM have put together everything you need to know about drug paraphernalia and your rights.
What Is Drug Paraphernalia?
According to Florida Statutes 893.145, drug paraphernalia is defined as “…all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, 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, transporting, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”
Because of this relatively broad definition, a wide range of items are often classified as drug paraphernalia. Some of the most common examples of paraphernalia include:
- Freebase Cocaine Kits
- Scales Used For Weighing Controlled Substances
- Rolling Papers
- Needles or Hypodermic Syringes
- Dime Bags
- Testing Devices
These are just a few examples of paraphernalia. Anything preserved to be used in conjunction with controlled substances, including homemade devices, can land a person with a paraphernalia conviction.
In Florida, possession of any kind of drug paraphernalia is a first degree misdemeanor. This means that those convicted face up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
Even if a person gets away without jail time, they may still lose their freedoms by being placed on probation. On probation, an individual will be subject to random drug testing, probation meetings, and possible drug counseling. Also, those charged with a drug crime will be followed around by a social stigma that could affect employment and housing opportunities.
What Counts As Possession of Paraphernalia?
There are two classifications of possession in Florida, actual and constructive:
Actual Possession: This kind of possession occurs when someone has paraphernalia on his or her person. Most commonly, this occurs when the paraphernalia is in someone’s pockets or purse. Actual possession is the hardest type of possession to defend.
Constructive Possession: When an individual has access to the paraphernalia, but it is not on their person, they are charged with constructive possession. The individual must be aware of the paraphernalia and must be able to exercise dominion and control over it. For example, if you are aware there is drug paraphernalia in your car, you can be charged with possession. Even if you do not own the paraphernalia, were not using it, or did not have it on your person. Simply being able to access the paraphernalia is enough for an arrest.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you are facing paraphernalia charges, you absolutely need an attorney. Even if the charges do not seem that serious, you don’t want to put your freedom at risk. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows the ins and outs of the legal system, and will protect your rights. Hiring a trusted attorney will help you avoid convictions or have your charges dismissed or lessened.
Don’t gamble with your freedom, call PLM today. If you or someone you know has been charged with possession of paraphernalia, make the right choice. Trust the experienced attorneys at PLM to fight for you.