Possession or Manufacture of Paraphernalia

When is paraphernalia not paraphernalia? How in the world can the police just assume that tobacco pipe is being used to smoke marijuana? Believe it or not, drug paraphernalia charges can be some of the most hotly contested criminal charges by Tampa lawyers. Because the definition of drug paraphernalia is so broad, it invites challenge by attorneys all across the state. Jason Mayberry has defended these challenges as a State Attorney and levied the challenge while defending his clients in Tampa and the surrounding areas. Whether you need a hard hitting defense or a judicious approach in the hope of getting a pretrial diversion offer, we’ve done it all.

POSSESSION OF PARAPHERNALIA

Very often an individual arrested for possession of controlled substances will also have the device used to take the substance. When this is the case the State Attorney will add a first degree misdemeanor charge of possession of paraphernalia. Florida Statute 893.145 defines just about everything imaginable that could be used to plant, cultivate, grow, manufacture, transport, ingest, amongst others, as paraphernalia. In other words, if you use the object to do something with your illegal substance, the State will charge you with this crime. If paraphernalia is delivered to a minor, the individual making the delivery could be charged with a second degree felony, carrying a potential 15 year prison term and a $10,000 fine. In these cases the State could run into a problem is if there is no residue or evidence of an illegal narcotic on the item at issue. Without evidence of an illegal substance, it will be very difficult for the State to prove there was intent to use the object in relation to an illegally possessed controlled substance.

MANUFACTURE OF PARAPHERNALIA

Similar to the definition of possession of items thought to be paraphernalia, if an individual manufactures a device for any of the reasons listed above for use with illegal narcotics, they can be charged with a third degree felony count of manufacturing drug paraphernalia. Though these charges are rare in that it is quite difficult for the State Attorney to prove the device was manufactured with the intent that it be used for illegal substances, the fact that it is a felony charge makes the scenario a critical one.

DEFENSE TO A PARAPHERNALIA RELATED CHARGE

As we’ve stated above, in certain circumstances these charges are completely defensible. On the other side of the coin, often those charged are caught dead to rights. If you are arrested with a giant sack of marijuana and have a scale and bong full of residue sitting next to you in your car, most likely your case will be one where the best course of action is to make every effort to mitigate the outcome rather than fight tooth and nail against the paraphernalia charge. If you happen to have a pipe or other device in your possession that has no illegal substance on it and there are no illegal narcotics found, an experienced criminal lawyer can argue and likely succeed in showing that there is no way to prove that you had an intent to use the device in conjunction with illegal controlled substancess. If that argument is successful, the State Attorney’s Office should abandon or no bill a paraphernalia charge.

Alternatively, if the device the State claims is illegal drug paraphernalia isn’t on your person, there may be an argument that you weren’t in possession. This situation often arises when there is a car full of people and one drug pipe that is not physically on the person of anyone in the car. If you are charged with possession of the pipe, in certain situations you may have a great argument that you didn’t possess the pipe, but rather it was in the possession of someone else. When this is the case, it is very difficult for the State Attorney’s Office to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in possession of the item suspected to be illegal.

The Mayberry Law Firm is available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please give us a call at 813-444-7435 or email us through our online form and let us know when it’s a good time for us to call.