When many people think of drug violations, they generally think of the more obvious criminal charges — possession of illegal substances, drug trafficking, drug use, and others. Many fail to properly consider (or simply forget about) the possession of drug paraphernalia.
Possession of drug paraphernalia is categorized as a first-degree misdemeanor, and conviction could expose you to significant penalties that include up to a year of imprisonment, and a $1,000 fine. If you are put on probation as an alternative to a stint in jail, the probation term could last for a full year, and may include random drug testing as well as enrollment in a rehabilitation program (depending on the particular circumstances surrounding such possession).
It’s important to note that even if you have no illegal substances in your possession, the mere possession of drug paraphernalia is enough to attach criminal liability. For example, if law enforcement authorities find hypodermic needles in your car (for injecting heroin), you could be charged with and potentially convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, even if there is no evidence that you possess or use the drug in question.
Understandably, the complexities of drug crime prosecution can be somewhat overwhelming for those who have been charged with such crimes. There may be lifelong consequences if you’re not careful about how you approach litigation. We encourage you to get in touch with one of the experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorneys here at Fowler Law Group for guidance.
What Qualifies as Drug Paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia is well-defined under section 893.145 of the Florida Statutes. Pursuant to the statute, drug paraphernalia is all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in:
…or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.
Drug paraphernalia constitutes such a broad class of items that it can be quite difficult to avoid liability for possession on the basis of the item not being “drug paraphernalia.” For example, a smoking device might be suspected to be drug paraphernalia on the basis of its more popular use for the consumption of narcotics, even if it can also be used to smoke tobacco.
Defenses to Possession of Paraphernalia
In all drug crime litigation, you will likely want to dispute the legality of the search and seizure of your property by law enforcement authorities. If law enforcement authorities did not have adequate legal cause to search your person (or property) and therefore secure the paraphernalia at-issue, you may be entitled to suppress the introduction of such evidence and undermine the prosecution’s arguments.
Beyond that, however, there are a number of effective defenses to a possession of drug paraphernalia charge.
- You were not aware of the existence of the paraphernalia in question
- You were not using the paraphernalia for a drug-related purpose
- You were not the owner of the paraphernalia, nor did you actually or constructively possess the item(s)
For example, you can avoid liability if you can show that you were not aware of the existence of the drug paraphernalia at-issue, and that others had access to the area of your property in which the paraphernalia was found — by creating reasonable doubt that the paraphernalia was yours, criminal liability will likely not attach.
Contact Our Skilled Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorneys for Guidance
Fowler Law Group is a criminal defense firm with offices in both Sarasota and Bradenton. Our attorneys have over thirteen years of combined experience advocating on behalf of criminal defendants throughout the state of Florida, including cases that involve drug crimes (such as the possession of drug paraphernalia). We have tried more than 50 criminal jury trials and have successfully negotiated a resolution to many others.
Here at Fowler Law Group, we believe in client-oriented legal representation. We understand the seriousness of the charges that may have been brought against you, and the consequences thereof — as such, we work closely with clients to ensure that the litigation process is transparent.
Interested in speaking with an attorney in more depth about your drug crime charges? Call (941) 900-3100 or submit an online form to get in touch with one of our experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorneys. We look forward to helping you resolve these difficult criminal matters.