Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Charges
A criminal charge for possessing drug paraphernalia in Arizona is more severe than many people might think. The state treats this offense harshly and often charges it as a class 6 felony offense. If you are convicted of this offense, you might face severe penalties, including ongoing consequences that might last long after you have completed your sentence.
Because of the potential ramifications of a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia, you should retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer with the requisite legal knowledge and skills to help you fight the charges against you.
Drug crimes attorney Michael Alarid III is prepared to defend you against the criminal allegations against you to secure the most favorable outcome possible in your case.
What Is Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Arizona?
Under ARS 13-3415, drug paraphernalia and the actions surrounding it are broadly prohibited. Under this statute, you cannot use or intend to use an object to do any of the following things with illegal drugs:
Possession of drug paraphernalia to deliver, or with the intent to deliver, is likewise illegal if you know, or should reasonably know, that the recipient will use it in any of the above-listed ways for illicit drugs.
Finally, this law also prohibits advertising paraphernalia in any form of publication when you know or reasonably should know that the advertised objects will likely be used by the buyers for illegal drugs in one of the above ways.
law prohibits advertising paraphernalia in any form of publication
This law's wording is broad. Nearly any object can be considered illegal paraphernalia, including household utensils and items sold in specialty shops. Some things that might be regarded as paraphernalia include spoons, Ziploc bags, scales, pipes, rollers, cigarette papers, bongs, pipes, syringes, etc. The broad language of this statute provides law enforcement officers with many ways to charge people with crimes.
The critical factor in whether you might be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia is your intent. For example, if you have a spoon in your kitchen drawer with other silverware, it will not be considered to be paraphernalia. However, if you have a spoon in a box with a syringe, lighter, and traces of illegal drugs, the police might consider it to be paraphernalia and charge you with a crime.
The critical factor in whether you might be charged with possession of paraphernalia is your intent
What Prosecutors Consider when Pressing Drug Charges
Arizona courts consider several factors when they determine whether an object is an illegal paraphernalia under ARS 13-3415, including the following:
- Any statements made by the object's owner about how the item is used
- Previous drug convictions
- The object's proximity to drugs
- Drug residue found on the object
- Any circumstantial or direct evidence that the owner intends to deliver the object to someone who will use it unlawfully for drugs
- Any instructions about the object's use that are included with it
- Any descriptive materials about the use of the object
- Advertisements about the use of the object
- How a store displays the item(s) for sale
- Whether the object's owner is a licensed supplier of related items
- Expert testimony about the object's use
Penalties for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia in Arizona
Under Arizona law, possession of paraphernalia is often charged as a class six felony. Under Proposition 200, people convicted of a first or second non-violent possession of paraphernalia or drugs cannot be sentenced to prison and must instead be sentenced to probation as long as the drug involved is not methamphetamine. If people violate their probation, they can be arrested and forced to spend time in jail until a judge reinstates their probation.
Historically, Arizona has offered a type of deferred prosecution program through the Treatment Assessment Screening Center or TASC. The new program in Maricopa County is called the Felony Diversion Program. The new program combines what was formerly known as the Drug Diversion Program (or TASC) and what was known as Felony Pretrial Intervention Program (FPIP) into one diversion program. Generally, the program is based on an individual's need for counseling whether that be drug counseling, alcohol counseling or other types of counseling. The counseling is administered by SAGE Counseling and the costs have been reduced.
If you have a previous conviction for selling or distributing drugs, driving under the influence of drugs, introducing contraband into a prison, or any type of methamphetamine offense, you will not be eligible for diversion or sentencing under Proposition 200.
If you have two or more prior felony convictions for drug offenses, you will also be ineligible.
The following sentences apply to people who are not eligible for Prop 200 probation-only sentences and who are convicted of the class six felony:
- First offense - Probation with up to one year in jail or prison from four months up to two years under ARS § 13-702
- Second felony conviction - Probation with up to one year in jail or prison from nine months up to 2.75 years under ARS § 13-703
- Third felony conviction - Prison from 2.25 up to 5.75 years under ARS § 13-703
In addition to any probation, jail, or prison sentence, you might also receive a fine under ARS § 13-801. Courts can order people who are convicted of felony offenses to pay fines of up to $150,000.
Courts can order people who are convicted of felony offenses to pay fines of up to $150,000
You can also face collateral consequences if you are convicted of a class six felony for a drug paraphernalia charge. People who have felony convictions on their record may struggle when searching for employment and housing. You might be ineligible for housing assistance, and prospective employers might hesitate to offer you a job.
Many people with criminal convictions also have trouble in their relationships and might be stigmatized by others in the community. Finally, a conviction for possessing paraphernalia might make you ineligible for federal financial aid to attend college.
a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia might make you ineligible for federal financial aid to attend college
The possible penalties for possessing paraphernalia are severe and make it critical for you to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you with your case. Michael Alarid III might be able to secure a favorable plea offer to a reduced charge or win an outright dismissal of the charge against you.
Defenses to a Drug Paraphernalia Charge
Depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, your defense attorney might raise any number of defenses to a possession of drug paraphernalia charge. You might be able to defend against this type of offense by arguing that the item was not being used for anything related to drugs and was thus not paraphernalia.
For example, you might have a pipe for smoking tobacco instead of for illicit reasons. To present this type of defense, your attorney will need to review the factors courts consider when determining whether something qualifies as paraphernalia as previously listed to challenge the prosecutor's arguments.
Your attorney might also defend against a paraphernalia possession charge by arguing that you did not knowingly possess paraphernalia. This defense might apply if the paraphernalia was discovered in your home or vehicle after someone else left it without your knowledge.
Your attorney might also defend against a paraphernalia possession charge by arguing that you did not knowingly possess paraphernalia
Your lawyer will carefully review the evidence and police reports to determine whether the police committed any constitutional violations in your stop, search, and seizure.
If the police officer did not have a reasonable suspicion that you were committing any type of offense or traffic violation at the time your vehicle was pulled over, your attorney might file an evidentiary motion to challenge the admissibility of all of the evidence the police discovered after the unconstitutional stop.
If the officer conducted a warrantless search of your home and discovered alleged drug paraphernalia, your attorney might challenge the search. Evidence discovered following an unconstitutional stop or seizure is considered to be the fruit of a poisonous tree and is not admissible in the state's case against you.
If either of those situations applies in your case, your attorney might win suppression of the evidence against you and force the prosecutor to dismiss your case.
If you made incriminating statements to the police, your attorney would review the circumstances to determine whether you were coerced into confessing or inculpating yourself. If the police took you into custody and interrogated you without giving you the appropriate Miranda warnings, your statements and any evidence later discovered because of them might also be suppressed.
Contact the Law Office of Michael Alarid III
If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, you should not take the matter lightly. An experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Michael Alarid III can carefully review what happened in your case and build a strong defense to the allegations against you.