It’s common knowledge that drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin are illegal, but can you get in trouble for carrying drug paraphernalia? Read our blog to find out what Florida considered “drug paraphernalia” and the consequences for getting caught.
On the most basic level, drug paraphernalia includes drug use “accessories” or tools used to administer them. The official federal definition states that paraphernalia is:
“[…] any equipment, product or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”
These items may include a bong, pipe, syringe, etc. However, while these items are clearly considered drug paraphernalia, they are not so easily discoverable. The appearance of drug paraphernalia can be hidden or made from an unlikely object to prevent detection.
However, regardless of an item’s shape or form, it is considered illegal to sell or offer drug paraphernalia or export it to other parties.
The general identification of drug paraphernalia as described in the previous section is a base level understanding law enforcement and the general public depend on. However, the legal definition of drug paraphernalia is much more complex when accusations of possession are brought up in court.
An item must pass a litmus test before the court can charge a person for possession or distribution of paraphernalia. The following factors must be addressed by the prosecution in these cases:
- The proximity of the object to a direct violation of the law
- Statements by the owner or those in possession of the object related to its illicit use
- The presence of drug residue
- Direct or circumstantial evidence to support the claim that the owner intended to sell or traffic the object
- Advertising for the object indicating its purpose
- Descriptive materials explaining how to use the object
- Expert testimony
- The manner of display
- The proximity of the object with illegal substances
- Whether the owner is licensed for legal sale of the object
Prosecutors carry the burden of proof in these cases. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the item in question is drug paraphernalia.
Transportation, manufacturing, delivery, advertisement, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia is a third-degree felony. These crimes can be punished with prison time and fines depending on the degree of harm or scope of the crime and aggravating factors.
These are serious cases, and it’s important to recognize that felony convictions also result in lifelong ostracization from society and the loss of personal rights and freedoms. If you have been charged with possession, distribution, manufacture, or advertisement of drug paraphernalia, contact the Law Office of Armando J. Hernandez, P.A.