A wide variety of criminal offenses relates to the use and distribution of drugs and controlled substances. Many controlled substances cannot be used without the assistance of certain tools. For drug dealing purposes, various tools like scales and packaging materials are needed to ready controlled substances for distribution. These extra tools and pieces of equipment are often referred to as “paraphernalia,” and using drug paraphernalia may constitute a separate crime in itself.
If you are unsure whether you might be facing charges for possession of drug paraphernalia, there are several factors you can consider. In most cases, drug paraphernalia charges are imposed alongside other drug charges. Since most people who have drug paraphernalia also have drugs, defendants are commonly also charged with illegal drug possession. You should also consider if the paraphernalia had any other legitimate use besides using or distributing drugs. For example, many dealers use kitchen scales to weigh drugs for sale. However, a kitchen scale is a common household item used to weigh food. If you had a different, legal reason for having the paraphernalia, you might be able to fight your charges.
If you are facing charges for the illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, an experienced attorney might be able to help. Our Brigantine drug crimes defense lawyers can help you challenge the charges and evidence against you. To schedule a free, confidential legal consultation, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. You can call our offices at (609) 616-4956 to get started with a skilled member of our legal team.
What Are Drug Paraphernalia in New Jersey?
The legal definition of drug paraphernalia can be found under N.J.S.A. § 2C:36-1. Under this law, drug paraphernalia includes all equipment, products, or materials used or intended to be used to produce, consume, or distribute drugs. The law specifically mentions tools used for planting, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, processing, preparing, packaging, storing, and concealing as uses for drug paraphernalia. This definition is broad and may include tools or equipment for any step of the process of producing, selling, or using drugs.
Drug paraphernalia may range from simple, everyday tools to highly scientific equipment. Some paraphernalia may have legitimate uses, while other paraphernalia might only be used within the drug trade. For example, mixing devices like bowls, spoons, and blenders are common kitchen items that may also be considered drug paraphernalia. Additionally, more scientific tools like chemical diluents and adulterants can also be drug paraphernalia.
Not all drug paraphernalia are used exclusively for the production, use, or distribution of controlled substances. Our Cape May drug crimes defense attorneys can help you assert the legitimate reasons you may have had certain tools.
New Jersey Penalties for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:36-2, the illegal possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to use it for purposes related to drug crimes is a disorderly persons offense. The law also clearly states that mere possession is not enough to warrant criminal charges. A defendant must also have the intent to use the paraphernalia for drug-related purposes.
There may be additional charges for drug paraphernalia beyond possession. You may also be charged for manufacturing or distributing drug paraphernalia. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:36-3, it is a fourth-degree crime to manufacture or distribute drug paraphernalia knowing it will be used for drug-related purposes. Placing an advertisement for drug paraphernalia may also be a fourth-degree crime. It may be a third-degree crime to provide drug paraphernalia to someone under the age of 18.
According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:43-8, a person charged with a disorderly persons offense may be punished by no more than 6 months in jail. Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:43-6, a fourth-degree crime may be penalized by a prison term of no more than 18 months. A third-degree crime may be punished by at least 3 years in prison and no more than 5 years.
Charges for possession of drug paraphernalia are commonly found alongside other drug-related charges. It is possible you are facing additional penalties to those mentioned above. Contact our New Jersey drug crimes lawyers for more information about the possible penalties for your charges.
Defense to Charges for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in New Jersey?
As stated above, many different kinds of tools, items, and pieces of equipment could be considered drug paraphernalia. Whether or not a person is charged with crimes related to drug paraphernalia depends on how they use the items. You might be able to effectively fight your charges if you had a legitimate reason for having the drug paraphernalia.
Common household items frequently found in kitchens, like measuring and mixing devices, are often used in drug manufacturing. If the police search your home and find drugs, they might try to charge you with possession of drug paraphernalia as well. We can fight these accusations by claiming they are ordinary, everyday items that would be found in any home, and you had a legitimate purpose for them unrelated to drugs.
Charges for the possession of drug paraphernalia are rarely charged alone. They are often imposed alongside charges for possession of drugs and controlled substances. Without the presence of drugs, prosecutors have little to no reason to believe the items in question were used for drug-related purposes. For example, without the presence of marijuana, a smoking pipe could easily be assumed to be used for legal tobacco. We might be able to fight your charges by getting evidence of drugs excluded. Contact our Ocean County drug possession attorneys to discuss how to best defend yourself against your charges.
Contact Our New Jersey Drug Paraphernalia Possession Lawyers
If you are charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, you are also likely facing additional drug-related criminal charges. Our South Jersey drug crimes defense attorneys can help you challenge your charges and minimize the penalties. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to set up a free legal consultation.