Section 152.09 of the 2018 Minnesota Statutes makes it a petty misdemeanor to possess drug paraphernalia. However, when it comes to drug paraphernalia, it isn’t always easy to determine what qualifies and what doesn’t. Police officers do employ some common tactics-here are a few things they might look for.
Definition of Drug Paraphernalia
Federal law goes a little further than Minnesota law by declaring paraphernalia to be “any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance, possession of which is unlawful” 21 USC § 863.
According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), drug paraphernalia involves anything used in taking, manufacturing, or hiding illegal drugs. This broad definition covers a multitude of items such as:
- Wooden, glass, or ceramic smoking pipes
- Miniature spoons
- Roach clips
Ordinary Objects can be Paraphernalia
Sometimes, ordinary objects can be turned into drug paraphernalia. Others often do not associate their possession with drug use, since they can be found almost anywhere. A few common items that might be utilized for illicit purposes include:
- Tin foil
- Plastic pens
- Razor blades
- Glow sticks
- Small plastic bags or pill bottles
How do police tell whether someone is casually possessing these things or using common, everyday items for the wrong purposes? One telltale sign is having an unusually large amount of certain stuff on hand.
For example, someone who is dealing drugs may have stockpiled hundreds of baggies or rolling papers. This is often a red flag that causes officers to dig a little deeper, looking for signs of residue or traces of drugs.
Illegal to Sell
Not only is it illegal to possess drug paraphernalia, but you could also be charged with a crime for selling it. The threat of jail time doesn’t deter everyone, but it does cause them to implement some clever marketing strategies.
Tobacco stores, gas stations, and novelty shops often carry pipes and bongs, but may claim they are intended for legitimate uses such as vaping or tobacco smoking. And while you can in fact use these devices for legal purposes, the fact is that all too often they are used for illicit drugs.
Many stores have succumbed to placing a disclaimer stating their products are only to be used for legal reasons. In this way, they are able to avoid being charged with selling drug paraphernalia.
What are the Penalties for Possession?
In Minnesota, a petty misdemeanor is not technically considered a crime since no jail time is given. However, it can come with a fine of up to $300 for a first offense.
That changes when you are arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia a third time. At that time criminal charges apply, in which case you could face up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Help from a Minnesota Drug Crimes Lawyer
Do you need a Minnesota drug crimes lawyer to fight a drug paraphernalia charge? Even if this is your first offense, you may want to fight your charges rather than just pleading guilty. If others hear you were charged, it could affect your social status or even future employment opportunities.
Perhaps the arresting officer mistakenly identified something as paraphernalia when it clearly was not. Maybe you were buying or selling legal items for a legal purpose and have been falsely accused.
Whatever your situation know that, if hired, our law firm will fight to preserve your innocence. Please contact us right away to schedule your consultation.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this page does not constitute an attorney client relationship. Be sure to contact our law office to discuss your case with an attorney.