The State of California is committed to preventing the possession, sale, and distribution of illegal controlled substances. Law enforcement in the state aims to meet this goal by not only making the possession of these substances illegal but also by criminalizing the possession of particular items often used in connection with them. These items are referred to as drug paraphernalia. Such paraphernalia can include items such as spoons, syringes, and smoking pipes. However, the law must be evaluated correctly when determining possible guilt, since these items are not always used for the purpose of taking illegal controlled substances. Therefore, it’s vital to obtain help from an experienced Fresno drug lawyer if you’re accused of the illegal possession of paraphernalia.
Attorney Michael McKneely of Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer has over 15 years of experience in the courtroom handling cases as a prosecutor and a defense attorney. If you’re facing a drug paraphernalia or other type of drug crime charge, he can engineer a strong defense on your behalf. With distinct knowledge of how the prosecution thinks and operates, he will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Call Michael McKneely today at (559) 443-7442 to set up a free evaluation of your case.
Drug Paraphernalia Defined
Drug paraphernalia consists of any items – including products, equipment, and materials – that are manufactured or advertised for use in producing, manufacturing, processing, compounding, preparing, inhaling, or some other activity to introduce a controlled substance into the human body.
Some of the items that fall under the category of drug paraphernalia include:
- Cocaine vials
- Chamber pipes
- Water pipes
- Air driven pipes
- Carburetor pipes
- Ice pipes
- Roach clips
- Electric pipes
- Rolling paper
- Miniature cocaine spoons
- Kits for growing drugs
- Balances and scales for measuring and verifying drugs
- Kits for producing, manufacturing, preparing, or compounding drugs
- Testing equipment for identifying or for analyzing the purity, effectiveness, or strength of drugs
- Containers or other items for personal drug use or for the concealing or storing of drugs
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Under the California Health and Safety Code section 11364, it is unlawful to possess drug paraphernalia for the purpose of unlawfully smoking or injecting any controlled substance other than marijuana.
A prosecutor must prove all of the following elements in order to have you convicted of a possession crime:
- You had paraphernalia items in your possession
- You had knowledge of the paraphernalia items
- You exercised either control or constructive control of the paraphernalia
Certain items of paraphernalia do not fall within an illegal category of possession. These include syringes or hypodermic needles from an authorized supplier and possessed for personal medical use only.
Manufacture, Sale, and Distribution of Drug Paraphernalia
Businesses in California are not permitted to display drug paraphernalia in areas that are open to minors. Any violation of this law can cause the forfeiture of the business’s goods. A business violating this law could potentially have its license revoked.
Additional laws in California relating to drug paraphernalia prohibit the following activity:
- Providing drug paraphernalia to another individual with knowledge that it will be used for illegal purposes
- Providing drug paraphernalia to a minor
- While on school grounds, having in your possession a syringe that you know a minor will use to inject an illegal substance
- Manufacturing drug paraphernalia with knowledge that it will be used for illegal purposes
The above crimes may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the particular offense and specific facts of the case.
Penalties and Other Possible Consequences
The possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor with penalties that include a six-month jail sentence and a maximum base fine of $1,000. Depending on your specific case, you may be placed on court supervision and into a drug diversion program.
Additional consequences resulting from a conviction on possession of drug paraphernalia can include the forfeiture of any professional licenses you possess and the loss of your job.
6 Defenses for a Drug Paraphernalia Possession Charge
Depending on your case, one of several defenses may be available to you as the defendant against a drug paraphernalia charge in California. These include:
- You Have the Authorization to Possess Because of Your Profession – If you’re found in possession of drug paraphernalia, you may not necessarily be in legal jeopardy if you have these items in connection with the responsibilities and duties of your profession – i.e., nurse, doctor, pharmacist, manufacturer, or veterinarian.
- You Have Authorization for Personal Use – Drug paraphernalia that is in your possession and is also authorized for your personal use may not necessarily be considered illegal possession under the law.
- You Did Not Possess – Possession of paraphernalia is required to be found guilty under California Health and Safety Code section 11364. If you did not possess or constructively possess the paraphernalia, you may not be found guilty under the law.
- You Have No Knowledge Drive Paraphernalia Was Present – Two elements are required under Health and Safety Code section 11364 in order to receive a conviction. You must have knowledge of the presence of the paraphernalia. Secondly, you must have knowledge of the character or nature of the items as drug paraphernalia. If these elements are not present, you cannot be convicted.
- Insufficient Evidence – An experienced California drug paraphernalia lawyer may be able to convince prosecutors that they lack the elements necessary to prove you committed a crime involving drug paraphernalia. There may be certain mitigating evidence or other proof that demonstrates the current evidence submitted by the prosecution is weak or insufficient.
- Entrapment – If law enforcement or other government agents encouraged you to commit a crime involving drug paraphernalia possession when you did not desire to do so, you may be eligible to use the entrapment defense.
Contact a Skilled California Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, you may be aware that a conviction on that charge can have long-lasting effects on your professional and personal life. At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we understand what’s at stake for you. Our criminal defense attorneys in Fresno have an extensive background serving as a prosecutor and successful defense attorney. Under his leadership, you can be confident your rights will be protected as we fight vigorously on your behalf to minimize, or if possible, eliminate the consequences you are facing. Contact us today at (559) 443-7442 to request a free consultation about your case.