Drug Paraphernalia Possession

Aggressive Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Skillfully Defending the Rights of Clients Facing Narcotics Charges

Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-3415, it is illegal to possess drug paraphernalia. When most people hear the term drug paraphernalia, they think about pipes, bongs, vaporizers, and other objects used to ingest drugs; however, the definition of drug paraphernalia is actually much broader. In fact, prosecutors bring possession of drug paraphernalia charges after most narcotics arrests. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our dedicated Phoenix criminal defense lawyer has extensive experience successfully representing clients charged with all types of drug crimes, including possession of drug paraphernalia. We can help you determine the best possible defense, given the facts of your case.

What Constitutes Drug Paraphernalia in Arizona?

The Arizona drug paraphernalia statute makes it a crime to use or possess with the intent to use drug paraphernalia. For example, there is a list of prohibited items contained in § 13-3415, which includes the following:

  • Scales,
  • Hypodermic needles,
  • Water pipes and bongs,
  • Cocaine spoons,
  • Empty capsules, balloons, or baggies,
  • Chillums,
  • Roach clips,
  • Smoking masks,
  • Grow kits, and
  • Testing equipment.

Other than these objects, the statute doesn’t explicitly explain what else constitutes drug paraphernalia. However, the law provides that anything that can be used to “plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale” or otherwise introduce a drug into the body can be considered drug paraphernalia.

Section 13-3415 recognizes that it may not be crystal clear whether something should be considered drug paraphernalia and that some everyday items could, depending on the circumstances, be possessed for unlawful use. Thus, lawmakers provided guidance to the courts by including a list of factors that can be considered when trying to determine if an object is properly considered drug paraphernalia. The factors include:

  • Any statements made by the owner of the object;
  • Prior drug convictions;
  • The physical proximity of the object to illegal drugs;
  • Whether there is any drug residue on the object;
  • Circumstantial evidence suggesting the owner knew they possessed drug paraphernalia;
  • Instructions regarding how the object should be used;
  • Advertisements explaining how the object can be used;
  • How the object was displayed for sale;
  • The object’s possible legitimate uses; and
  • Expert testimony.

Given these factors, it’s clear that prosecutors can rely on outside material in an effort to prove an object is drug paraphernalia, even if the defendant claims they didn’t know the object was used in relation to narcotics. However, a Phoenix possession of drug paraphernalia attorney may be able to cast doubt on the prosecution’s allegations that you knowingly possessed drug paraphernalia.

What Is the Punishment for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia?

In Phoenix, possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class 6 felony. A conviction for a Class 6 felony carries a presumptive sentence of one year in prison; however, the maximum sentence can be as high as two years in prison if the prosecution establishes aggravated circumstances. Further, those with prior felony convictions face up to 5.75 years in prison for a drug paraphernalia conviction. The court may also order mandatory drug treatment.

Common Defenses to the Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

There are two very common defenses to possession of drug paraphernalia. The first is challenging the prosecution’s evidence that the object in question was actually used or intended to be used in relation to illegal narcotics. The second is filing a pre-trial motion to suppress, arguing that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights leading up to your arrest. An experienced Phoenix possession of drug paraphernalia lawyer can explain which defense works best in your case.

Have You Been Arrested for the Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Phoenix?

If you were recently arrested and charged with a Phoenix drug crime, reach out to the Law Office of James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a veteran criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling narcotics cases in Maricopa County courts. He understands the best defenses to drug paraphernalia charges and knows what it takes to beat even the toughest cases. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call the Law Office of James E. Novak at 480-413-1499. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form.