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Possession of Drug Paraphernalia In Florida
Drug offenses are seen as very serious crimes in Florida. The state’s history of elevated drug use and addiction mean that law enforcement does its very best to clamp down on those who possess and sell illegal substances – but what many are not aware of is that in some cases, a person need not even have drugs in their possession at all and may still wind up charged with a drug-related crime. Possessing “drug paraphernalia” is usually a misdemeanor, but it can still create long-term problems for you if convicted.
A Very Broad Statute
Colloquially, drug paraphernalia is any kind of item that could be used for purposes of ingesting or selling drugs (or preparing them for sale). The legal definition is extremely broad and expansive, covering everything potentially usable in “planting, propagating, cultivating, […] concealing, transporting, injecting …” and otherwise using or selling drugs. As one might imagine, this might include quite a few items if taken to extremes.
Some of the most commonly seen in these types of charges include hypodermic needles, bongs, and rolling papers. However, because of the breadth of the statute, even otherwise innocuous items like bowls, spoons, scales, and plastic containers may count as drug paraphernalia if they are found either on a person, or at a scene where they might be assumed to be used for drug-related purposes. Each case is different, but it is still a possibility.
Often Used As A ‘Bargaining Chip’
While the thought of being charged with a drug offense for merely possessing certain items may be daunting, in reality, it is most often charged in connection with a case where a person has actually possessed or sold drugs. In many cases, it can even be used as a bargaining chip by state’s attorneys to negotiate plea-bargains with defendants – for example, agreeing to drop a paraphernalia charge in exchange for pleading guilty to the actual drug offense. Nonetheless, a conviction can be a life changing experience, with up to 1 year in jail and fines possible if found guilty.
Something to keep in mind when determining your best defense is that possession in Florida need not be actual – it can also be constructive. Constructive possession is a legal fiction of sorts which holds that a person who has control over where drugs are stored ‘possesses’ them, since no one else has access to the illegal substance. Even if you do not have drugs on your person when stopped, this may not be sufficient to get you off the proverbial hook.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Paraphernalia Attorney
While a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia is generally a misdemeanor, that can still derail a person’s life with ease. If you have been charged with this offense, calling a West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. should be one of your first calls – we can help protect your rights in court. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.