Possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime unlike any other — you are essentially charged with a crime for merely owning something that might be used to get drugs into your system. It doesn’t matter if you have any drugs in your possession or have ever even used drugs — simply owning the objects themselves is a crime.
And the Florida statute on drug paraphernalia seems intentionally vague and broad, covering everything that could be used to plant or grow a drug, pack or store a drug and inject or inhale a drug.
Do you own an indoor growing kit for a hydroponic garden? That could be drug paraphernalia because it could be used to grow marijuana. Do you happen to have a lot of small baggies in your possession? They could be drug paraphernalia because they could be used to divide up a stash for easy sales. Did you buy a hookah to decorate the dorm room because you thought it would look cool? That also could be considered drug paraphernalia.
Because so many common household items, from envelopes to soda bottles, can be converted into a form of drug paraphernalia, when to charge someone with the crime is often a judgment call left up to the prosecutors.
It is often tacked onto possession charges in order to increase the possible penalty that the accused faces — and to give the prosecution something to bargain with if they want to plead out a case. For example, if you are caught with a marijuana joint and a package of rolling papers, you could face the minor possession charge for the actual drug and the additional charge of owning drug paraphernalia — which can add a year in jail and a $1000 fine to your sentence if you’re convicted.
If the prosecution offers to drop the paraphernalia charge in exchange for a guilty plea on the possession charge, it may seem like a great deal to a scared college student or someone just visiting on vacation — but the long term consequences of that plea could turn out to be more than you realize you’d have to endure as the conviction haunts you into the future.
Get a good defense attorney and don’t allow yourself to be bullied on a drug paraphernalia charge. For information on how our firm approaches these cases, please visit our page.