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What is a Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Charge?

If you face a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, you may wonder what the charge means. In North Carolina, it is unlawful for you to knowingly use drug paraphernalia with a controlled substance. The law includes possessing any materials that you use with any activity involving a controlled substance. Let’s look at what drug paraphernalia is and how to fight against a charge of possession. 

What Exactly is Drug Paraphernalia?

If you’re wondering what drug paraphernalia is, according to NC Law, it includes:

  • Kits for activity with any controlled substance (or a plant from which a controlled substance can be derived)
  • Isomerization devices for increasing potency of plants containing controlled substances
  • Testing equipment for identifying or analyzing the strength, effectiveness, or purity of controlled substances
  • Scales and balances for weighing or measuring controlled substances
  • Diluents and adulterants, such as quinine, hydrochloride, mannitol, mannite, dextrose, and lactose for mixing with controlled substances
  • Separation gins and sifters for removing twigs and seeds from or refining marijuana
  • Blenders, bowls, containers, spoons, and mixers for compounding controlled substances
  • Containers for packaging small quantities of controlled substances
  • Containers and other objects for storing or concealing controlled substances
  • Hypodermic syringes, needles, and other things for injecting controlled substances
  • Objects for introducing marijuana, cocaine, hashish, or hashish oil into a body, such as:
    • Metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic pipes, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls
    • Water pipes
    • Carburetion tubes and devices
    • Smoking and carburetion masks
    • Roach clips
    • Miniature cocaine spoons and cocaine vials
    • Chamber, carburetor, electric, ice (chillers), and air-driven pipes
    • Chillums and Bongs

Using Drug Paraphernalia

If you possess material that you use to facilitate violations of the Controlled Substances Act, you can face this charge. A drug paraphernalia charge is when you use any material with a controlled substance to do any type of activity such as:

  • Plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, or harvest
  • Manufacture, compound, or convert
  • Produce, process, or prepare
  • Analyze or test (except when you introduce or intend to introduce a controlled substance into your body and you possess testing equipment for identifying or analyzing the strength, effectiveness, or purity of that controlled substance)
  • Package, repackage, store, contain
  • Conceal
  • Inject, ingest, inhale, or introduce controlled substances 

If You Face Charges

Law enforcement looks at many extenuating circumstances when evaluating whether to charge you with possession of any of these items. Possessing an object with no evidence of activity with a controlled substance will not take a case very far.

There are specific factors they consider as most important in their determination if the objects you have in your possession are indeed paraphernalia. You may wonder what exactly goes into their decision of how to charge you. Law enforcement looks at several factors when determining whether to charge you for possession of drug paraphernalia.

What You Say

First off, law enforcement officers and the court consider what you say. It is within your rights to not speak and incriminate yourself. You must hire a criminal defense attorney to help you think about your statements before making them. You never want to talk about what you use an object for in regards to a controlled substance.

If you sign away your Miranda rights and try to tell your side of the story to law enforcement, they can use anything you say against you in a court of law. Police officers train in the art of making conversation that will spur you to talk and admit guilt. Don’t fall for it.

However, if an officer asks if you have sharp objects and you admit to having a needle, this is a different situation. You cannot face drug or drug paraphernalia charges for possession as long as there is only drug residue on a sharp object you admit to before a search.

Prior Convictions 

The prosecutor will consider whether you have prior convictions when looking at your charges. The prosecutor is more likely to reduce or drop charges for a first-time offender. However, the more charges you have related to controlled substances, the more likely you will face a judge and active punishment in jail.

Controlled Substance Use

Law enforcement takes it very seriously if you have drug paraphernalia sitting on a table beside controlled substances. It matters how close paraphernalia is to the controlled substance. It also matters if there is any residue on your objects. Law enforcement also looks at other drug paraphernalia and considers how the entire scene fits together. 

Selling Paraphernalia

If you have instructions or descriptive materials about how to use objects with a controlled substance, this indicates your intent. Law enforcement may use your words against you in a court of law. If you advertise or market an object for use with a controlled substance, the court may use this information against you.

Law enforcement makes a note of the:

  • How you display an object for sale
  • Whether you are a legitimate supplier of other types of legal products, such as tobacco
  • Whether the community may legitimately use your products

The judicial system also considers expert testimony concerning the use of your products and your intent to sell to those who violate the controlled substances laws.

Consequences of Charges

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. With no priors to 4 priors, you could spend up to 45 days in community service or jail. With 5 or more prior convictions, you could face the maximum penalty of 120 days in prison. Possession of marijuana drug paraphernalia is a Class 3 Misdemeanor. 

We Can Help

If you’re facing drug or paraphernalia charges, we can help you find your way through a judicial system that doesn’t care about your outcome. We investigate all evidence, whether law enforcement violated your rights, and the truth behind any charges. Our experienced criminal defense legal team negotiates with the prosecutor for your best case scenario while considering deferred charges possibilities and other programs to avoid prosecution and conviction. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.