Possession of Drug Paraphernalia…Is It a Crime?

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia…Is It a Crime?

What Constitutes Violation of Pennsylvania’s Drug Paraphernalia Laws?

Some drug paraphernalia has limited use…a bong will likely be considered drug paraphernalia, as it has no ordinary use other than in connection will controlled substances. But what about other more common household items—balloons, baggies, scales, grinders or razor blades. When are you at risk for a charge of violating Pennsylvania’s drug paraphernalia laws?

Drug Paraphernalia Defined

The Pennsylvania laws define paraphernalia broadly, as any device that can be used for:

  • planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance

Because the law requires that drug paraphernalia be intended for a specific use, to show that you were in violation of the law, authorities must generally show that the items had limited use (for one of the stated purposes in the statute) or that there is circumstantial evidence that the items were being used for that purpose. Accordingly, if you are in possession of controlled substances at the time of your arrest, there is a strong likelihood that police will also seek out anything that may reasonably be considered paraphernalia, and charge you with that crime as well.

It’s also important to remember that paraphernalia does not actually have to be used to subject you to a criminal charge. An unopened pack of rolling papers will probably be considered paraphernalia if you have marijuana on the premises. On the other hand, you can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia even if there are no drugs on the premises, and the device has other uses. For example, a roach clip with resin or residue can get you charged with possession of drug paraphernalia even though you have no marijuana in your possession.

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