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Criminal charges for possession of drug paraphernalia

People in Pennsylvania can be criminally charged for possession of drug paraphernalia even if they are not found with any controlled substances. Under federal law, an individual may be handed drug paraphernalia charges if they are found selling, attempt to sell, mailing, transporting, importing or exporting drug paraphernalia. In some cases, a person could also face charges if they are simply found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia.

Defining what is drug paraphernalia can sometimes be difficult. For instance, a pipe could be used to smoke an illegal substance like marijuana, but it could also be used to smoke a legal substance such as tobacco. When determining whether something like a pipe or a hookah is drug paraphernalia, law enforcement might inspect the object for drug residue.

Some other objects that might be considered drug paraphernalia include miniature spoons used for snorting cocaine, roach clips, freebase cocaine kits and syringes. Other things that may be defined as drug paraphernalia during an investigation include chemicals used to dilute narcotics, scales for weighing controlled substances and small plastic bags that might be used to package drugs. The penalties for drug paraphernalia convictions are normally much less severe than the penalties for drug possession.

A person who is facing charges for possession of drug paraphernalia might want to speak with an attorney about defense strategies. If no drugs were found in the defendant's possession, an attorney may argue that the alleged drug paraphernalia was not being used for illegal purposes. An attorney might also present evidence that the defendant is a tobacco smoker in order to strengthen the claim that the objects in question were not drug paraphernalia.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Paraphernalia Charges", accessed on Feb. 5, 2015

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