While most people realize that certain equipment related to drug use is illegal, some realize too late that a very wide array of items are considered drug paraphernalia. Seemingly legal, harmless items could lead to serious criminal charges and other consequences. Regardless of whether the allegations are true or are simply based upon a mistake, working with an experienced Greensburg drug paraphernalia lawyer is essential.
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, our drug lawyers in Greensburg have in-depth knowledge of the Commonwealth’s drug paraphernalia laws and how they are realistically applied. Though the provisions may cover a wide range of household and personal items, multiple defenses may be available in your specific case. If you’ve been charged possessing drug paraphernalia in Greensburg, we should be your first call. Contact us at (717) 233-1524 or online to schedule a no-cost case assessment.
A Greensburg drug paraphernalia attorney can provide valuable information about your specific situation, answers to your questions, and guidance on what to do next.
What are the Pennsylvania Drug Paraphernalia Laws?
The Pennsylvania drug paraphernalia laws are fairly broad with three sections addressing what is illegal:
- It is a violation to use or possess items intended for planting, producing, harvesting, compounding, ingesting, inhaling, storing, packaging, concealing, or related activities that are prohibited by law.
- Delivery, possession, or manufacturing of drug paraphernalia is also unlawful if you know that the item would be used to violate state laws on controlled substances. You can also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia if you reasonably should know that the item would be used to produce, manufacture, or traffic in controlled substances.
- You are prohibited from placing an ad in any written or electronic media that promote the sale of objects designed as drug paraphernalia. This includes such communications as email, newspaper, magazines, e-magazines, fax, and any other online channels.
What is Drug Paraphernalia?
Though the statute defines the types of activities that could lead to an arrest for drug paraphernalia, it doesn’t provide a list of items that allow police to charge you with a drug crime. Plus, the language is so general that many of your legal personal belongings only become illegal when devoted to certain unlawful purposes.
Examples of drug paraphernalia may include:
- Bongs, pipes, rolling papers, “roach” clips, and screens for filtering smoke;
- Scales and devices for measuring drugs;
- Blenders, spoons, and mixing tools;
- Vials, plastic baggies, and other containers used to store or conceal controlled substances;
- Hypodermic needles for drug injection;
- Razors and cutting utensils for dividing controlled substances;
- Grow lights for cultivating drugs.
This list is in no way exhaustive. There are many unusual, creative, and innovative devices that people may use to engage in activities that are prohibited by Pennsylvania’s drug paraphernalia laws. Even a soda can, or piece of fruit can be modified to enable the user to inhale smoke from it. Therefore, while the item itself is key to constituting drug paraphernalia charges, so is the intended use.
How Can I Get Arrested for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
The statute covers many scenarios where drug paraphernalia is illegal when linked to prohibited activities such as the use, possession, producing, or trafficking of controlled substances. However, it’s not necessary for the item to already be used. For instance:
- You can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia if police find a pipe containing marijuana resin on your person. Though it’s a small amount, any weight of resin that registers will demonstrate that the item had been used for inhalation.
- You can also be arrested if you have a clean, never-used pipe, along with a plastic baggie containing marijuana. The bag is circumstantial evidence that you intended to use the pipe to smoke it. However, if you have a clean pipe and a bag of loose tobacco, it’s not likely that you’ll be arrested.
In both examples, you should note that being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia often leads to additional charges. The bag of marijuana obviously violates state controlled substances laws, but so does the resin in the pipe.
Is Drug Paraphernalia a Misdemeanor or Felony?
For a first-time drug paraphernalia offense in Pennsylvania, you face a third-degree misdemeanor. A conviction could mean up to a one-year jail sentence, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both. With the help of a possession of drug paraphernalia lawyer, you may be able to secure of probation, community service, or some combination. Subsequent convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia could raise the matter to a higher degree misdemeanor or even a felony.
In addition, surrounding circumstances may result in more severe penalties. For example, if you sell or give drug paraphernalia to a minor and you are at least three years older, the offense is a second-degree misdemeanor. Your sentence may include a maximum of two years’ in custody and a fine of up to $5,000.
Of course, as mentioned above, charges for drug paraphernalia may also lead to an arrest for possession of controlled substances. Depending on the amount, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges for the drugs linked to the item. Ironically, if the controlled substance is marijuana, the penalties are less than for possession of the drug paraphernalia itself. A small amount of cannabis intended for personal use is an ungraded misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days’ incarceration and a maximum fine of $500.
Do I Need A Lawyer for Drug Paraphernalia?
You may believe that your paraphernalia offense is no big deal, easily handled by explaining things to the officers involved or prosecutor. However, there are many ways a lawyer can assist, especially by presenting defenses and ensuring your rights are respected. Depending on the circumstances, you may contest:
- Any facts that the prosecutor introduces as evidence;
- Whether police had probable cause to arrest you;
- The element of possession, which may apply if you were driving someone else’s car and didn’t know that drug paraphernalia was present;
- Whether police had a proper warrant to search you, your home, or business; and,
- Any other element of the crime.
Always remember that you cannot be convicted unless the prosecuting attorney proves your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your drug paraphernalia lawyer will know Pennsylvania’s statutes and will employ every available defense strategy. By contesting the facts and law, it may be possible to get lesser charges, probation, a reduced sentence, or other favorable outcomes like a complete dismissal.
Schedule a Free Appointment with a Greensburg Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer
When you consider the extremely broad definition of objects that qualify as illegal drug paraphernalia, you shouldn’t be putting your rights and permanent record at risk. Place your trust in a drug paraphernalia attorney who has the experience and skills to help obtain a favorable outcome. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we focus on these and various other types of drug crimes. We’ve represented many clients in Greensburg and throughout Westmoreland County, and we’re here to help you, too. To set up a no-cost consultation, please call (717) 233-1524 or fill out our online contact form.