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What is drug paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia is one of the most common charges in the Tampa Bay Area.  Tampa criminal defense attorneys are often questioned by their clients about what “paraphernalia” actually means.  More often than not, this offense is also often charged with another criminal charge.

Under Florida Statute 893.147, it does not necessarily define “paraphernalia” rather it provides multiple illegal acts that “paraphernalia” would be used to do.  Specifically, the Statute states that it is unlawful for someone to possess drug paraphernalia with the intent to:

(a) To plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, or conceal a controlled substance in violation of this chapter; or

(b) To inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this chapter.

Put simply, Florida law attempts to criminalize any equipment or item that can be used to assist in the manufacture, use and/or store of illegal drugs in Florida.  It is also worth noting the item can have an otherwise innocent and legal purpose, like a Ziploc bag, but can be considered paraphernalia based on its use.  The maximum penalty for possession of drug paraphernalia is a year in a county jail and/or a year on probation and a fine.

Unfortunately, the Statute does not end by just criminalizing possession.  It also bans the manufacture, delivery, transportation, advertisement and retail sale of the drug paraphernalia. Florida’s ban on advertisement and retail sale of the drug paraphernalia are a somewhat recent attempt to cut down on the “supply side” of drug paraphernalia.  It raises major issues for small business owners, who may unknowingly sale these items that are being used as drug paraphernalia.  It is important to note though that it is often difficult for the State Attorney’s Office to demonstrate knowledge barring some unforeseen or very unique situation.

Interestingly enough, the Statute enhances the maximum punishment of the retail sale of drug paraphernalia for a second and subsequent offense to a third degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in a Florida State Prison.   Another potential enhancement under the Statute occurs when an adult delivers drug paraphernalia to a minor, this results in a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in a Florida State Prison.

There are many defenses to possession of drug paraphernalia including issues with illegal searches and seizures, constructive possession, etc.  If you or someone you know has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, contact the Tampa criminal defense attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation.  We have represented many people in your situation and will take the time to prepare a personalized defense to your charge.  We appreciate your time in checking out our blog.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to use our “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of the website.