In Florida, possession of drug paraphernalia for an unlawful purpose is a crime. Drug paraphernalia is any item that is used in order to consume an illegal drug by ingesting, injecting, or inhaling the controlled substance. The term also extends to items used to create or hide drugs. Some common drug paraphernalia includes bongs, pipes, roach clips, scales, and needles. If you are caught with these items, you may face criminal charges. An experienced West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney can counsel you on defense strategy and represent you through the criminal process.
Drug crimes, including the crime of drug paraphernalia possession, have been part of my practice for 30 years. Five of those years were spent as a state prosecutor, giving me insight on how these cases are pursued from the other side. I employ strong defense strategies for those charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.Consequences for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia in Florida
Possessing drug paraphernalia is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you can be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined up to $1,000. Although milder penalties are used for this type of conviction, it still can carry a strong stigma when applying to a new job or for new housing. A prosecutor charging possession of drug paraphernalia must prove that the defendant possessed the paraphernalia and that he or she intended to use the paraphernalia for an unlawful purpose.
Possession can be either actual or constructive. Actual possession is obvious. If you are walking around with a pipe, for example, you are in actual possession of the pipe. However, you also can have constructive possession of paraphernalia. This happens when someone is aware of where the paraphernalia is located and can access or control it. For example, if you own a house and know your housemate stores bongs and roach clips in the common area of your house, you have “constructive possession” of that paraphernalia. If you didn't know that your housemate keeps a bong in a locked safe in his room, on the other hand, you could not be convicted of possessing drug paraphernalia.
It can be difficult for law enforcement to prove that someone used or intended to use drug paraphernalia for an unlawful purpose. The prosecutor may test the paraphernalia for drug residue, or a specially trained officer may testify that the object is usually used to consume illegal drugs. If illegal drugs are found nearby, the proximity may be used to prove that the drug paraphernalia would be used. For example, having crack in a baggie on the kitchen counter and a crack pipe in the living room a few feet away could suggest that the crack pipe would have been used to smoke the crack.
These cases often arise during searches conducted by local law enforcement. You are protected from illegal searches and seizures by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The police must have probable cause to obtain a warrant to search your home or to search your car. If the search that yielded evidence of drug paraphernalia is illegal, the evidence obtained from that search may be suppressed. This suppression may allow you to seek dismissal of the charges.Consult a Knowledgeable West Palm Beach Drug Crimes Attorney
I am an experienced Palm Beach Gardens criminal defense attorney. I can evaluate the facts of your situation to determine the best defense strategy. Call my office at 561-533-1221, or contact me through my online form. I have an office located in Palm Bach Gardens near I-95 and PGA Boulevard, and I have another office located in West Palm Beach. For your convenience, I accept credit cards.