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Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia In Florida
Being charged with drug possession is a serious crime that has to be handled appropriately. However, there are additional offenses that a State’s Attorney may choose to charge as well, if the situation warrants. The most common is possession of drug paraphernalia, which can encompass several different implements and create significant trouble for someone, especially if they are a first-time offender. If you have been charged with possessing or using drug paraphernalia, consulting an attorney can help set your mind at ease.
Many Things Are ‘Paraphernalia’
Drug paraphernalia are colloquially defined as any kind of tools that allow a user to ingest illegal drugs. However, the legal definition of ‘paraphernalia’ is much wider – it not only encompasses the tools someone might need to use drugs, but also the tools one might need to “plant, propagate, cultivate … prepare, test, analyze … contain, or conceal” any illegal substance. This understandably encompasses a lot of tools, though some are of course seen more often than others. Examples might include containers for storage, or bowls, mortars and pestles for compounding, as well as hypodermic syringes or pipes for ingesting substances.
The possible sentence for possession or usage of drug paraphernalia is generally a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by 1 year in jail and fines of up to $1,000 (not counting court costs), plus 12 months of probation. This may not sound like much, but it is almost always charged along with possession of whatever drug can be used with the paraphernalia in question – and depending on the amount, possession charges can carry up to 30 years in jail.
Possession Is Everything
Drug possession crimes would seem to be straightforward, but in truth, possession of drugs or paraphernalia can be actual, or they can be constructive. Constructive possession is a doctrine under which someone may not have physically had something in their hands, but they still had it under their control. For purposes of criminal charges, constructive possession qualifies in the same manner as physical possession, which can sometimes catch people by surprise. If you had control over the item at all times, and it was on the premises or in a place where you had the same control, you will likely be held to have possessed the item.
It is possible, in many cases, to assert what is called an affirmative defense to the charges against you. One of the most common is to call into question the legality of the police search or seizure – there are very specific rules that law enforcement must obey when searching premises or other places – vehicles in particular have regulations that, if broken, will irretrievably taint any evidence discovered in the search. There are other types of potential defenses, but often, it may take an experienced attorney to determine whether they work in your case.
Call A West Palm Beach Drug Paraphernalia Attorney
Being caught with drug paraphernalia can add extra time and trouble onto a case that may already be fraught with confusion and worry. If you have been charged, calling a West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can be of great help in determining how best to navigate the criminal process. Call us today to speak to an attorney.