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When Can You Be Charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in California?

February 28, 2019

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor under California law. 

When Can You Be Charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in California?If you are a drug user, there is a chance that you posses devices that allow you to use drugs, such as a pipe to smoke methamphetamine or spoons used to heat up cocaine or another drug.  These items may seem relatively innocuous, but simply possessing them is a crime under California law if they are used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance.

In California, it is illegal to posses “an opium pipe or any device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance.”  According to an experienced drug defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA, there is an exception to this general rule against possessing drug paraphernalia.  You can possess hypodermic needles or syringes if (1) they are exclusively for your own personal use and (2) you obtained them from a medical professional or another source authorized by law to provide sterile syringes or needles without a prescription, such as a needle exchange program.

To prove that you illegally possessed drug paraphernalia, a prosecutor must prove three facts, or elements of the offense.  First, the prosecutor must show that you either exercised control over or had the right to control the paraphernalia.  Second, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you knew of the paraphernalia’s presence.  Third, the prosecutor must prove that you know that the item in question was drug paraphernalia.

For example, if your boyfriend brought crack pipes into your home, and you both used them, the first element would be met because you had the right to control the pipes.  The second element would be met because you knew that the pipes were present.  Finally, the third element would be met because you knew the purpose of the pipes was to smoke illegal drugs.  However, if your boyfriend brought a crack pipe into your house and you did not know about it and never used it, a skilled drug defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA could argue that you did not have control or the right to control it.  For this reason, you should be acquitted of the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Illegal possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor under California law.  A violation can result in a penalty of six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.  For anyone who holds a professional licenses, such as lawyers, teachers, or real estate agents, a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia may also result in the suspension of their professional license.

There are a number of potential defenses to a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.  For example, an experienced drug defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA could argue that the object seized by the police may look like it is used to smoke or inject illegal drugs, but is actually used for legal purposes, such as smoking marijuana. Alternatively, your attorney could argue that you did not know that the object was drug paraphernalia (depending on your history and the facts of the case), or about the presence of the object.

If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, the Chambers Law Firm can help.  Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation with a seasoned drug defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA.

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