Jacksonville Drug Paraphernalia Possession Attorneys
Arrested for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Florida
Drug paraphernalia charges in Florida could have serious, long-term consequences. In Florida, it is a first-degree misdemeanor to knowingly possess a bong, pipe, syringe or scale for use with narcotics or illegal drugs. A possession of paraphernalia charge may seem minor in comparison to drug possession or drug distribution, but the consequences are often severe. Being convicted for drug paraphernalia possession can result in jail time, fines and a mark on your criminal record. Furthermore, if you are ever arrested again, you will be considered a repeat offender and you could face even harsher penalties.
Drug laws are constantly evolving in Florida just as they are in the rest of the United States. A drug crime conviction can have an adverse effect if you are planning to pursue higher education, better employment opportunities or even if you are thinking about running for elected office. Please do not let a drug conviction affect your future. Contact the experienced Jacksonville drug crime defense lawyers at Farah & Farah to find out how we can help.
Florida Law Regarding Drug Paraphernalia
According to Florida Statute 893.147: “It is unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia,” to store, grow, manufacture, conceal, inject, ingest or inhale a controlled substance. Just about any item that you use in conjunction with illegal drugs can be considered drug paraphernalia.
There are many different types of items that are classified as drug paraphernalia under the law. Common examples of drug paraphernalia that can lead to charges in Florida include:
- Roach clips used to hold a joint
- Pipes and chillums for smoking illegal drugs
- Scales used to weigh drugs
- Hypodermic syringes and needles
- Items used to conceal drugs such as balloons and envelopes
Florida’s Bong Ban
As of July 2013, the state of Florida banned the sale of most pipes, water pipes and bongs. Under this recently passed law, it is a first-degree misdemeanor for any retailer to knowingly and willfully sell drug paraphernalia. Second or subsequent violations could be charged as a third-degree felony.
House Bill 49, which was passed, bans the sale of all types of metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic smoking pipes. The only pipes that will be allowed for sale in Florida must be made of briar, meerschaum, clay or corn cob. The new law established five new crimes: use or possession of drug paraphernalia, manufacture or delivery of drug paraphernalia, delivery of drug paraphernalia to a minor, transportation of drug paraphernalia, and advertisement of drug paraphernalia.
Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia Possession in Florida
Possession of drug paraphernalia in Florida is not usually charged as a felony, but it does carry serious consequences. It is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Also, a conviction carries a stigma that can stay with you for many years. It can affect you employment opportunities, your ability to secure a loan or even your ability to obtain a professional license.
Prosecution and Potential Defenses
You have the right to fight possession of drug paraphernalia charges in court. Under Florida law, in order to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that you possessed the paraphernalia and that you intended to use the paraphernalia for an unlawful purpose – to use illicit drugs. Part of this requirement includes showing that you had actual or constructive possession. Actual possession is when you have the paraphernalia on your person, such as a bong in your backpack or a pipe in your pocket. Constructive possession is when you have the ability to exercise control over the illegal item, such as a crack pipe in your vehicle’s unlocked glove box.
The prosecution will also have to show that you had intent to use the paraphernalia for illegal purposes. This can prove difficult if they did not catch you in the act of using the drug paraphernalia. In such cases, they will attempt to show through testimony that you are familiar with its use or that it was nearby illegal drugs and therefore was there for illegal purposes.
It is possible to fight drug paraphernalia possession charges in Florida. You can argue that the paraphernalia was illegally seized or that you did not have knowledge or possession of the paraphernalia. If successful, the charges will be dismissed and you will avoid criminal penalties. Otherwise, you can negotiate for more lenient sentence, request that your records be sealed and expunged, or request alternative sentencing to help you avoid jail time. There are many options to consider before making any decisions.
Protecting Your Rights
The experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys at Farah & Farah have a long and successful track record of defending drug paraphernalia possession charges. If you are facing this serious charge, please do not speak with the authorities or enter a plea without talking to us. What you say or do after your arrest can and will be used against you. Call us toll-free at (904) 263-4610 to discuss your case at absolutely no cost.