We’ve all heard the saying “In the wrong place at the wrong time.” Well, there’s also the situation of being seen with the wrong items at the wrong time. Many cases of possession of drug paraphernalia occur when the individual is not actually in possession of any drugs. That’s when the individual asks, “Is it illegal to own drug paraphernalia if I don’t have any drugs?” Some might think that owning a small piece of equipment is harmless. The law, however, says otherwise.
What Is Drug Paraphernalia?
All 50 states define drug paraphernalia differently. In each state, there are specific items that are considered paraphernalia, but the general definition of drug paraphernalia is any device that can be used to consume illegal substances. Common examples of paraphernalia include:
- Opium pipes
- Water pipes
- Miniature spoons
In addition to consumption, items can also be considered paraphernalia if they can be used to manufacture or sell drugs. If you’re discovered with drug paraphernalia on or near you, you can be charged with possession.
What Is Actual vs. Constructive Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
There are two different categories of possession for drug paraphernalia – actual possession and constructive possession.
Actual Possession: You can be charged with actual possession if officials can clearly identify that the drug paraphernalia was on your person (in your pocket, in your hand, etc.)
Constructive Possession: You can be charged with constructive possession if officials see an item and suspect it’s yours (on the car seat next to you, on your kitchen table, in your bedroom drawer.)
A person can be charged with both active and constructive possession of paraphernalia even if they’re not in possession of illegal substances. In Louisiana, possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense. Common penalties for possession of paraphernalia include:
- Up to 30 days in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Alternative treatment programs
With the right defense attorney, you can mitigate your charges and reduce the penalties you face for possession of drug paraphernalia.
Should I Participate in a Diversion Program?
One of the most popular alternative penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia is diversion programs such as The Louisiana Adult Drug Court. These programs are considered drug treatment and are commonly assigned to first-time offenders. Since charges for possession of paraphernalia are not as severe as those for possession of drugs, individuals who are convicted are given a chance to redeem themselves and get their lives back on track through these unique programs. Typical diversion programs are ones that:
- Run for one year or longer
- Enforce strict rules that participants must follow
- Require a contract
- Result in the prosecution dropping charges
If you’re ready to move forward with your life and you’re given the opportunity to participate in one of these programs, it’s a viable option to avoid fines or time in jail.
Hire a Trusted Louisiana Drug Attorney to Defend You
If you’re facing charges for possession of paraphernalia, it’s time to get a trusted attorney on your side. In Louisiana, the John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm is a reliable source of legal representation. Our firm has more than 25 years of experience working with ordinary people just like you. We have won thousands of cases across Louisiana and will work tirelessly to build a viable defense strategy for your case.
The attorneys at the John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm are members of The Louisiana Bar Association and The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. To schedule your free consultation call 318-377-1555 or contact us online today.