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Can I be Charged with a Crime Just for Having Drug Paraphernalia in Philadelphia?


8/12/2019

When it comes to drug charges, most people understand that you can be charged with a crime for possessing or selling drugs. Unfortunately, what many people don’t realize is that you can face drug charges even if you didn’t have any drugs in your possession or never sold any drugs. It’s one example that illustrates just how far-reaching and intimidating our drug laws can be.

If you’ve been charged with a drug-related offense in Philadelphia, criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer can help. She provides her clients with aggressive legal representation to ensure that they get the fairest result possible. Call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and discuss your paraphernalia charges.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia is a Crime in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law makes it a crime to use or possess with the intent to use drug paraphernalia for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.

You can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, even if you were not in possession of drugs and were charged with no other drug offenses. While drug paraphernalia charges are not the most serious drug charges you can face, a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia could result in fines, jail, probation, or some combination of serious penalties.

Drug Paraphernalia Includes More Than You Think

When considering the phrase “drug paraphernalia,” most people think only of the obvious, such as bongs, pipes, and hypodermic needles. They fail to consider that they can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia even for possessing items that are otherwise legal to possess:

  • Spoons
  • Baggies
  • Vials
  • Rolling papers
  • A mirror
  • A scale
  • Razors
  • Vaporizers

Under Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to possess any item that may be used for the purpose of “planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.” This means that you can also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia for possession of the following:

  • Fertilizer
  • Grow lights
  • Chemical compounds used to make drugs
  • Lab and kitchen equipment such as glassware

As you can see, “drug paraphernalia” encompasses an extremely broad category of items.

Delivery and Sale of Drug Paraphernalia

You should also be aware that you could face drug paraphernalia charges related to the sale or delivery of drug paraphernalia to another person. However, the prosecution must prove that knew or reasonably should have known that the items would be used in the manufacture or use of drugs.

Use and the Element of Intent

In order to convict you of a drug paraphernalia charge, the prosecution must prove that the items were either used in connection with the use or manufacture of drugs or with the intent to use or manufacture drugs.

If the items were used in connection with the use or manufacture of drugs, the prosecution will rely upon objective evidence to prove the charges. For example, the prosecution may introduce the following into evidence:

  • Crime scene photographs depicting the items found at the location where drugs were being manufactured
  • Lab results indicating that the items contain drug residue
  • Eyewitness testimony alleging that you were using the items to use or manufacture drugs
  • Expert testimony regarding how the items are used in the manufacture of particular drugs

In other cases, the prosecution may instead be trying to prove that you intended to use the items as drug paraphernalia. It is much more difficult for the prosecution to prove your subjective intent, but they will likely rely upon circumstantial evidence to demonstrate that you intended to use the items in the use or manufacture of drugs. This is easier in some cases than others. For example, if you are arrested with a bong in your possession, a jury can reasonably conclude that you intended to use it to smoke marijuana. On the other hand, it may be harder for the prosecution to prove that you had rolling papers in your possession because you intended to smoke marijuana.

Possession

It may seem obvious, but the prosecution also has to prove that you were in possession of the items in order to convict you of a drug paraphernalia charge. There are two ways that the prosecution can claim that you were in possession of drug paraphernalia:

  • Actual possession. Actual possession is when the drug paraphernalia is found on your person, such as in your hand or your pocket. It also includes having it in a purse or backpack that you are wearing.
  • Constructive possession. Constructive possession is when drug paraphernalia is found in your vicinity, in an area considered to be in your control. For example, if drug paraphernalia is found in your car, you could be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

It’s important to note that the prosecution must also prove that you knowingly possessed the paraphernalia, knew what it was, and knew what it was used for. If someone left paraphernalia in your car and you didn’t know it, it is unlikely that you could be convicted for possession of drug paraphernalia. An experienced Philadelphia drug paraphernalia attorney can challenge the prosecution’s case by examining the facts surrounding your arrest.

Potential Penalties of Conviction in Philadelphia

Under Pennsylvania law, a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia could result in the following consequences in Philadelphia:

  • Up to 1 year in jail;
  • A fine of up to $2,5000;
  • A combination of both jail and fines;

Providing drug paraphernalia to a minor at least three years younger than you can result in up to two years in jail and a fine of $5,000.
Finally, you should be aware that prosecutors often file a separate charge for each item that is alleged as drug paraphernalia. As a result, a single offense could result in multiple charges.

Call Wimmer Defense Law Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney

Drug paraphernalia charges can lead to serious consequences, but the good news is that you do not have to face these charges alone. Philadelphia drug paraphernalia lawyer Lauren Wimmer will fight for your rights and help you get a fair result. If you’d like a free consultation, contact Wimmer Criminal Defense Law today at 215-712-1212 to discuss your case.