Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(32)

The phrase “drug paraphernalia” for the Pennsylvania charge of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia is very broad and includes almost any item related to drugs.  Pennsylvania law defines “paraphernalia” as “all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of the Pennsylvania Drug Act.” (See 35 P.S. § 780-102).  Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, in violation of 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(32), is an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.  While possession of drug offenses results in a suspension of a Pennsylvania drivers’ license or privileges, a conviction of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia does not result in a license suspension.

What is “drug paraphernalia”?

Almost anything that is associated with drugs can be considered “paraphernalia.”  Even legal items can be considered paraphernalia if the police have proof that the items have been used or are intended to be used with drugs.  When considering whether or not an item is “paraphernalia,” judges are jurors are told to consider any statements from the owner, prior convictions of drug possession, whether or not drugs are nearby, and the presence of drug residue.  Sandwich baggies and scales are lawful items and are generally not drug paraphernalia.  However, if the police find flakes of marijuana on the scale or in the baggy, then the items become drug paraphernalia.  Normal water bottles that have drug residue in them become homemade bongs and are considered paraphernalia.  In most cases, the police find an item in close proximity to drugs or containing drug residue, and the drugs or residue are sent to a state forensic laboratory to confirm that the substance is a drugs.  After the police receive the test results showing that the substance was an illegal drug, the officer files charges for possession of drug paraphernalia.

In some situations, even when the lab reports show a negative result for the presence of drugs, the police still file charges.  In those cases, attorneys at JD Law have filed pretrial motions to dismiss the Possession of Drug Paraphernalia charges and repeatedly obtained favorable results for the clients.  The lack of drugs nearby and the lack of drug residue on lawfully possessed items make for a strong defense argument in support of a dismissal.

Multiple Charges for Multiple Pieces of Paraphernalia and Drug Possession

Drugs and paraphernalia go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly.  How can a person have marijuana without a baggy or container to hold the drug or a pipe or vaporizer to smoke the drug?  That means that drug paraphernalia charges are also charged along with drug possession charges.  An officer can also file multiple paraphernalia charges based upon the number of items that are found.  For example, if an officer finds a scale, baggies, and lighter, the officer can file multiple charges of possession of drug paraphernalia.  While an officer can file multiple charges, most officers do not.  Most officers file one charge of paraphernalia that covers all of the seized drug-related items.  Many people do not believe that filing multiple charges in drug possession cases is not fair, but the practice is legal, and charges are not dismissed by a judge because a client or parent does not think that the charges are fair.  In order to get the charges dismissed, an experienced defense attorney will use legal strategies such as pretrial motions to suppress evidence to obtain a dismissal or reduction of charges when appropriate.

Call JD Law Today for Your Free Consultation

For a free consultation regarding pending Penn State drug possession and drug paraphernalia charges, contact an experienced State College criminal defense lawyer by calling (814) 689-9139 or by emailing us.