Defined simply, paraphernalia is an item or piece of equipment needed for a particular activity. We all have paraphernalia scattered about our homes; a pair of sneakers could be considered athletic basketball paraphernalia, or an oven mitt could be considered cooking paraphernalia. But when the underlying “activity” involves the ingestion of prohibited drugs, the law states that the paraphernalia used is illegal to possess.
Being arrested for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia is a serious offense. While it may be confusing to understand how in some instances someone be charged with a drug crime when no illegal drugs are actually found, the Aggressive Criminal Defense Team at Frank Lay Law is here to help.
Why is Possessing Paraphernalia a Crime?
When it comes to being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in North Carolina, context is everything when it comes to a defense in your case. While most items considered to be paraphernalia can be purchased legally, how they are possessed it what deems it a crime. For example, you can purchase rolling papers at any gas station, and those rolling papers are commonly used for smoking tobacco. But if rolling papers are found the same time marijuana is found, they become drug paraphernalia and thus illegal.
Context matters when seemingly common items are found, even when drugs are not present. Scales, pipes, and small baggies are all legal to purchase and possess. However, found together, or in an odd place like the trunk of a car hidden out of sight, those items are categorized as drug paraphernalia.
North Carolina law includes two statutes dealing with drug paraphernalia.
Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia (G.S.90-113.22A)
North Carolina took the step of softening its law on possessing items used to ingest, package, or cultivate marijuana in 2014. Under the original law, North Carolina categorized possessing a pipe or rolling papers for marijuana use as a Class 1 Misdemeanor under the same statute that prohibits paraphernalia related to more serious drugs, such as hypodermic needles for injecting heroin.
Today, possession of marijuana paraphernalia is categorized as a Class 3 Misdemeanor and comes with less severe consequences. In most cases, a conviction under this new law results in a fine and a short period of probation. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, a maximum jail sentence of 20 days is possible.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (G.S.90-113.22)
The more serious of the two statutes deals with all paraphernalia not related to marijuana and conviction under this law brings more serious consequences. A drug paraphernalia charge is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which can come with a maximum jail sentence of 120 days. Terms of probation also tend to be longer and more rigorous, and may include provisions such as random drug tests, substance abuse classes, and community service.
If you or someone you know has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, contact our office today at 828-631-2500 to set up a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. Attorney Frank Lay and his team can help to guide you through the legal process and provide you with every option available to mitigate the charge and get the best outcome possible in your case.