Not all drug charges are for the possession of illegal drugs. It is also illegal to possess drug paraphernalia, which are items used in the manufacture, transport, analysis, compounding, packaging, storage, or consumption of illegal drugs.
It is possible to be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia without being charged with the possession of illegal drugs. It is also possible to be charged with this offense despite never having used an illegal drug or never using an alleged piece of paraphernalia for drug-related purposes. Many items that can be used with illegal drugs also have completely legal uses. Many of these items are discussed below.
In Indiana, possession of drug paraphernalia is usually a Class C misdemeanor charge. An individual found guilty of the possession of drug paraphernalia can face up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. If an individual has a previous drug crime record, the charge may be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor charge, which can result in up to 365 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Possession of a syringe (or hypodermic needle) may be charged as a Level 6 Felony.
To find an individual guilty of drug paraphernalia possession, the court must prove that the individual had the item specifically for illegal drug use. Possession of an item for the legal use of a prescribed controlled substance is not drug paraphernalia possession.
Establishing illegal intent related to drug paraphernalia can be tricky, and an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to use this to their client’s advantage.
Items used to consume tobacco may also be used to consume marijuana and other smokable substances, like crack cocaine. Examples of these items include:
The law in this area is continually evolving. For example, a recent decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals held that herb grinders do not qualify as paraphernalia, although they were often considered to be in the past. The case is still pending further appeal, but it demonstrates that defining what is considered illegal paraphernalia can be complex.
Many common items used throughout the household, such as kitchen scales, small spoons, and plastic baggies, can also have uses involving illegal drugs and may be considered pieces of drug paraphernalia. Obviously, many people possess these items for completely legal reasons, also.
Similarly, some items with legitimate medical uses can also be used with illegal drugs. An accusation of such can lead to a drug paraphernalia possession charge for an innocent individual. Medical items that can be flagged as drug paraphernalia include:
There are other items that could be deemed to be drug paraphernalia as well. These include, but are not limited to:
The exact circumstances of the charge, which can include anything from how and where the item is found to the defendant’s own statements, may influence whether or not items like the ones above are considered drug paraphernalia. If you are facing a criminal charge for possessing any of these items, it is imperative that you speak with a qualified attorney about your case.
If you are facing a drug paraphernalia possession charge or any other type of drug offense charge, it is in your best interest to start working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to develop an appropriate defense strategy for your case. To learn more, contact our team at The Bellinger Law Office today to schedule your initial consultation in our office.