California Drug Paraphernalia Laws And Penalties

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According to California Health & Safety Section 11364, it is a crime to possess drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia charges in California can have significant penalties, so you should consult with an attorney if you are charged.

Drugs

What is drug paraphernalia?

To be charged under Health & Safety Section 11364 for possession of paraphernalia, you must have possessed a device used to unlawfully inject or smoke a controlled substance. If the device is used for a lawful purpose, such as a syringe used for diabetic insulin injections, then you should not be charged. Some examples of items that may be considered as drug paraphernalia may include pipes, spoons, syringes, grinders, homemade smoking devices, bongs, and any other device used to introduce illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine or cocaine, into the body.

What is a person considered to be in possession of paraphernalia?

In California, a person can be in actual or constructive possession of paraphernalia. Whether a person is in actual vs. constructive possession depends upon the facts of the case. Actual possession occurs when you have physical control over the item, such as holding in your hand or having it in your pocket. Constructive possession may be found if the circumstance indicate that you had knowledge of the item and could exercise control of it. Determining whether there is actual vs. constructive possession can be important in determining any possible defenses.

What are the potential penalties of drug paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia charges in California are considered a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, the penalties of drug paraphernalia may include a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $1000. The actual sentence imposed will typically not be the maximum, unless you have a significant criminal history or the facts of the case are especially egregious. A court could impose additional penalties including drug testing, probation, court-ordered treatment, and community service. A drug paraphernalia conviction may also have other consequences that could affect your employment, professional licenses, and reputation.

Defending a Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Charge

There may be defenses available to challenge possession of paraphernalia charge. Defending a possession of drug paraphernalia charge can be difficult, so you should consult with an attorney to see what options are available. Some defenses may include:

  • Evidence that you lacked knowledge that the item was paraphernalia
  • Lack of actual or constructive possession
  • The item was possessed for a legitimate and lawful purpose
  • Lack of evidence that the device was intended for use with an illegal controlled substance
  • The police obtained the paraphernalia through an illegal search

What should you do if charged with possession of drug paraphernalia?

If you are charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, then contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can review the case and determine whether any defenses are available. If defenses are identified, then an attorney can file the necessary motions or take other action to raise your defenses and seek relief. An attorney will help you understand the law and how it applies to your case. They will explain to you the different options available and what to expect. If no defenses are available in your case, then an attorney will seek to negotiate a plea agreement that is fair and reasonable.

An attorney can provide legal representation at all stages of the case, including investigation, pretrial and trial. Your attorney will advocate for a resolution that is just under the circumstances. If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in California, then call us today to discuss your case.