Some criminal charges have the effect of infuriating criminal defense attorneys. The longer a criminal defense lawyer practices, the more they start to see patterns and realize that police often charge people with crimes with little or no evidence at all. If we see someone charged with a crime like resisting without violence or disorderly conduct, we know that the charges against our clients are likely based on questionable factual allegations on the part of the police.
One of the most infuriating charges however, is possession of drug paraphernalia. Like many criminal statute’s in Florida, the law prohibiting possession of drug paraphernalia is overly wordy and vague, and allows for far too much room for interpretation. Police and prosecutors can easily take advantage of statutes like this one and charge defendants with little evidence that a crime was actually committed. If you’ve been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, you should speak with a dedicated St. Petersburg Criminal Defense lawyer to aid your defense.Elements
The first thing prosecutors must prove on a possession of paraphernalia case is prove that whatever object you had was in fact drug paraphernalia. In order to illustrate just how vague and complicated the definition of “drug paraphernalia” is, we must look to the two legislative statutes that define paraphernalia. The State of Florida needed two entire sections in the statute book, 893.145 and 893.146 in order to lay out all the possible types of paraphernalia that a person could be arrested for.
First, section 893.146 lays out the “definition” of paraphernalia as “all equipment, products, and materials of any kind, which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, cultivating, growing…or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.” The statute goes on to list hundreds of items that could fall under the definition of paraphernalia. The list includes objects that are certainly intended for drug use such as bongs, glass pipes and marijuana grinders.
The list of enumerated paraphernalia also includes a multitude of items that are clearly non-criminal in nature. The list includes duct tape, balloons, scales, hypodermic needles, containers, miniature spoons, hoses, tubes and a 2 liter soda bottle. On its face, the list of objects is nonsensical and requires prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges to refer to section 893.146 to help them determine whether the objects in the list actually qualify as paraphernalia under the law. Due to the ridiculousness of this law, you should seek to retain a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer immediately to protect your rights.
Under section 893.146, in determining whether an object is paraphernalia, the court can consider statements of the owner or people around the object, the proximity of the object to drugs, the existence of any residue of drugs on the object and the manner in which the object was found or displayed. The court must also consider factors suggesting that the object was not paraphernalia, such as the existence and scope of legitimate use for the object, whether the owner is a legitimate supplier of such items in the community and, in the case of bongs and water pipes, whether the owner is a licensed distributer of tobacco products.
Possession of paraphernalia is a first degree misdemeanor which can be punishable by up to one year in jail. If you are accused of manufacturing or selling paraphernalia, it is upgraded to a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. And if you are accused of selling drug paraphernalia to a minor, you could be charged with a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years prison. Imagine facing a stiff prison sentence for selling duct tape or a 2 liter soda bottle.Speak To The Lawyers At Hanlon Law Today
If you’ve been charged with possession of paraphernalia, retaining a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference in your case. Call the lawyers at Hanlon Law today at 727.897.5413.