Possession Of Drug paraphernalia

There are so many ways the people have used to store and hide illegal drugs from authorities. There have also been several methods used to ingest drugs, including using different types of instruments. The possession of illegal drugs, the instruments used to ingest them, and the materials used to store them can bring convictions if found by authorities.

Paraphernalia and the possession of drug paraphernalia can be charged in two ways. One is to be charged as a Class 6 felony. In Arizona, Class 6 felonies are able to be charged simply as a Class 6 felony or can be charged by the State at its discretion as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The option to be charged as Class 1 misdemeanor is exercised by the State or Judge at the sentencing phase.

In Maricopa County, the Attorney’s office will likely always tack on a possession of drug paraphernalia charge in a Class 6 felony. In Arizona, the definition of paraphernalia is very general and can be defined to mean such things as the plastic baggie holding the drugs. It can also include what is commonly known as pipes, bongs, or other ingestion devices. Some of the items that people have been convicted for have been the needle used for heroin, the roach clip used for marijuana, rolling and smoking.

To prove a paraphernalia charge, a “totality of the circumstances” guideline is used. The State will have to prove by using the specific facts and evidence of the conviction case that the actual instrument or storage container was being used to hold or ingest the illegal drugs found on the person. One of the most common methods that states use to prove a drug paraphernalia case is drug residue. If the police find drug residue on the paraphernalia, send it to the lab and it comes up positive, then they have a much better argument that it is actually drug paraphernalia versus just a pipe.

That is exactly why smoke shops or head shops are allowed to sell items such as pipes because these items are not actually illegal when sold. They are only illegal if it can be proved that they were used for purposes involving illegal drugs.

For instance, a paper clip is just a paper clip. However, if found with illegal drugs and rolling paper, the State could make a case to define the paper clip as drug paraphernalia. Or if someone is in possession of a glass tube and a Brillo pad, that may be fine, but if you found with a crack rock in your pocket, these items could be defined as paraphernalia for ingesting the drug.

That is why the law looks at the totality of the circumstances as a standard when they say paraphernalia. You have to look at a lot of different things to see whether it is actually used for illegal drugs.

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