Possession of drug paraphernalia is less serious than possessing actual drugs, but it still carries jail time in Los Angeles. If you have been arrested for this charge, you should know that prosecutors remain zealous about convicting drug offenders, and that a single conviction can affect your career and future. Don’t let an arrest ruin your life. You need to talk to a Los Angeles drug paraphernalia lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group can help you. We have years of experience with the court system and we understand how to fight drug paraphernalia charges—even the toughest cases. Whether you are facing the charge yourself or you have a loved one who has been arrested, we will take your side without judgment and fight to protect you. We offer a free consultation to help you understand your case and the best options for fighting it. Let us help. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What exactly is drug paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia means any kind of device or equipment that it used to take illegal drugs. Usually, that means devices for either smoking or injecting a controlled substance. The truth is that this is a sneaky law—it’s a way for the police to bust you even if there are absolutely no drugs on your person. Unfortunately, police take a very broad view of what counts as “paraphernalia,” and they will often make an arrest even if what you did isn’t technically illegal. This is why fighting your drug paraphernalia case can often result in a victory.
The most common devices considered drug paraphernalia include:
Pipes used for smoking crack or methamphetamine
A cocaine spoon
Needles under some circumstances
There are also some items associated with drugs that do not count as paraphernalia:
“Bongs” for smoking marijuana
Needles in many situations
However, be aware that some of the items (other the needles) may be considered illegal under laws other than possession of drug paraphernalia. California’s drug laws are complex and it helps to talk with a lawyer to know exactly what you’re facing.
Is it true that syringes are NOT paraphernalia?
California has made an effort to protect two types of people with syringes:
Anyone who has a legitimate use for them, such as a diabetic
People who are using them for illegal drugs, but are doing so in a responsible way to limit the spread of HIV
The means there are two circumstances where your possession of a syringe does not count as paraphernalia:
Medical. You obtained your needles from a legitimate source, such as a doctor, and the needles are “containerized” in a sealed case for safe disposal.
Personal use with drugs. You use your needles for illegal drugs, but you obtain the needles from a syringe exchange program and you use them only for your own use.
To be clear, that means that even if you were arrested for possessing a heroin syringe, it is NOT a valid paraphernalia charge if you got it from a needle exchange program. This law exists to stop the spread of HIV and other diseases by allowing drug users to get clean needles.
This protection is currently valid through the year 2021, although the state legislature could extend it.
How do I fight a drug paraphernalia charge?
There are several defenses you can use to fight the case. And it’s not always easy for the prosecutor to convict you. They have to prove three things:
You had the paraphernalia in your possession or under your control (such as in your car),
You knew the item was there, and
You knew the item could be used for illegal drugs
This is not an open and shut case—even if they really did find the paraphernalia when they arrested you. If they cannot prove all three of these facts, they cannot convict you.
That means there are several strong defenses to a drug paraphernalia case:
You didn’t know the paraphernalia was there—such as when it was left in your car or house by someone else
You knew the item was there, but didn’t realize it could be used for drugs
The item does not really count as paraphernalia (such as clean syringes obtained from a needle exchange program)
The item is actually for legitimate medical use, such as diabetes
You are a nurse, pharmacist or other person authorized to possess these items—or you are a legitimate business selling medical devices
The search that found the paraphernalia was illegal
In many cases, however, the best defense is simply a lack of evidence. The police may have found the “paraphernalia” when they arrested you, but that doesn’t mean there is hard evidence of everything they have to prove to convict you. The reality is that paraphernalia cases are often far weaker than they look and a good lawyer can help you.
What are the penalties for drug paraphernalia in Los Angeles?
Up to 6 months in county jail
Up to $1,000 in fines
This charge can also affect your employment and your ability to get into colleges, both now and in the future.
If you’re facing these charges, you need legal help. A lawyer can make it possible to avoid jail time, get drug treatment instead, or even win your case. Always talk to a lawyer.
Talk to a Los Angeles Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer for Free
California’s drug laws are simply not fair. The punishments do not fit the crime, and a drug paraphernalia charge should not ruin your life. Let us help you. At the Simmrin Law Group, we will give you a free consultation and do everything in our power to help you win your case—no matter what it takes. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.