1. What Is Drug Paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia is a blanket term for objects that are intended or have been modified for making, using, or concealing recreational drugs. This can include hypodermic syringes, crack pipes, or even common household items such as spoons. Maryland Criminal Code 5-619 criminalizes possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use. The statute also lays out the factors law enforcement should consider when determining whether an object is paraphernalia:
- Proximity of the object to drugs
- Statements from the possessor concerning the object’s use
- Expert testimony concerning the object’s use
- Presence of residue on the object
2. Is It a Crime to Possess Marijuana Paraphernalia?
In 2014, lawmakers decreed the possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana was no longer a criminal offense. However, they failed at that time to decriminalize marijuana paraphernalia. While people in possession of marijuana are assessed fines through civil courts, those who also had objects like a marijuana pipe or rolling paper could receive a misdemeanor on top of the civil charges. Lawmakers corrected this oversight in the law in 2016. Possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia no longer applies to items related to marijuana use.
3. What Are the Consequences for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia?
The penalty for possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use is a fine only for a first offense. However, this charge carries the distinction of being a criminal misdemeanor. That means a conviction could impact your employment, violate your probation, affect your immigration status if you are not a U.S. citizen, and have other negative consequences. Furthermore, on a subsequent violation for possession of paraphernalia, the penalty may include jail time of up to 2 years.
4. What Are Some Defenses Against Drug Paraphernalia Possession Charges?
Because the possession of drug paraphernalia is a criminal matter, the state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you fight back. We could be able to:
- Identify issues in the charging document
- Utilize statutory factors outlined in Maryland Criminal Code 5-619 to argue that the object in question is not paraphernalia
- Raise constitutional defenses arising from the search and seizure pursuant to the Fourth Amendment
These are just some of the many possible responses to possession of drug paraphernalia. After learning the specifics of your case, our team can identify the best possible angle(s) for your defense.
5. Do I Need a Lawyer if I Am Cited for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
Yes. If you have been cited for drug paraphernalia, you need an experienced attorney at your side. We recommend you never try to represent yourself in criminal court, simply because the stakes are too high to not bring in someone with experience. Remember, even a misdemeanor like this one can affect your whole life.
At Alpert Schreyer Poe, LLC, our criminal defense team is comprised exclusively of former Maryland prosecutors. Clarify your rights and options with us by scheduling a free consultation.
Give us a call at (301) 321-7277 or send us a message online if you’re facing charges involving drug paraphernalia.