One of the ways California works to keep illegal drugs off the streets is to not only illegalize the substances themselves, but also to make it illegal to own items used in correlation with such substances. Unfortunately, these laws are quite complex because few items are used exclusively for the purpose of taking controlled substances. This means that anything from a pipe to a syringe to a spoon can be considered paraphernalia in a particular context. That is why anyone accused of possession of paraphernalia should immediately contact a Vista criminal defense attorney before answering any questions for the police.
Anyone who has ever entered a smoke shop in California knows that these stores all have signs warning that you cannot use language related to the use of marijuana or you may be asked to leave the store. If you call a tobacco water pipe a “bong,” for example, you may get in trouble. That is because while a majority of people buying items from these stores are buying them for use with marijuana, the stores cannot legally sell drug paraphernalia. Rules relating to marijuana products have become less strict over the last decade thanks to the prevalence of legal medicinal marijuana, but without a medical marijuana card, you cannot legally buy a bong in California.
Similarly, you can be arrested and charged for possessing something as innocent as a spoon or a belt if police believe it was used to help someone shoot heroin. Obviously, you can’t just be charged for owning a spoon or belt, so these cases can get rather complex, which is why you should always fight such accusations with the help of a Vista defense lawyer.
If you are convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, you may be sentenced to up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. Fortunately, these cases can be difficult for the prosecution to prove when you have a skilled criminal attorney from Vista on your side. That is because the prosecution must be able to show that you were in control of the paraphernalia, that you knew about it being in your possession, and that you knew it was intended to be used in conjunction with drugs.
This means that if you gave someone a ride and they left a syringe in your car without your knowledge, you cannot be convicted of this crime. Similarly, if someone gave you a pipe and you thought it was for use with tobacco, you cannot be convicted of possession of paraphernalia. Even if you own a shop that sells “rose tubes,” which are often used for smoking crack, you cannot be convicted unless the prosecution can show that you knew you were selling the item to persons who intended to use them for that purpose.
If you have any questions about drug paraphernalia laws, please call Vista criminal defense lawyer at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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