Drug Paraphernalia in Virginia

Drug paraphernalia includes equipment and products that are used to inject, consume, manufacture, or package a controlled substance. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime in Virginia, even if the suspect was not found with any illegal drugs. Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can lead to drug paraphernalia charges and a misdemeanor criminal record.

Unfortunately, an item the police think might be paraphernalia could be a common everyday product, like a scale for baking, plastic bags, or even a spoon. If you were arrested for drug paraphernalia possession or accused of selling drug paraphernalia in Virginia, contact Charlottesville drug defense attorney Thomas M. Wilson today for a free consultation.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Laws in Virginia

Under Virginia Code § 54.1-3466, except as authorized, it is unlawful for any person to possess or distribute controlled paraphernalia. “Controlled paraphernalia” means instruments used to administer a controlled dangerous substance by injection or used instruments used to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance. Common examples of drug paraphernalia can include

  • Bongs,
  • Water pipes,
  • Needles,
  • Spoons or knives,
  • Roach clips, or
  • Scales.

Possession of drug paraphernalia in Virginia is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia can include up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

What is Included in Drug Paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia is a very broad category. Paraphernalia includes items or devices primarily used to consume drugs. However, it can also include common, everyday items that there are plenty of legitimate uses. The “definition” of drug paraphernalia under Virginia Code § 18.2-265.1 includes equipment, products, and materials which are intended for use in

  • Planting, producing, growing, or harvesting marijuana;
  • Manufacturing, compounding, converting, and testing controlled substances;
  • Storing or concealing drugs; or
  • Inhaling, injecting, or introducing a controlled substance to the body.

Some of the most common examples of drug paraphernalia include

  • Scales and balances for use in weighing marijuana or controlled substances;
  • Capsules, balloons, envelopes, and other containers intended for use or designed for use in packaging small quantities controlled substances;
  • Containers and objects intended for use or designed for use in storing or concealing marijuana or controlled substances;
  • Hypodermic syringes, needles, and other objects intended for use or designed for use in injecting controlled substances into the human body;
  • Objects intended for use or designed for use in ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana, cocaine, hashish, or hashish oil into the human body.

Sale of Drug Paraphernalia

It is a separate offense in Virginia to sell or possess with the intent to sell drug paraphernalia, knowing under the circumstances that it is either designed for use to illegal grow, manufacture, inject, inhale, or otherwise consume marijuana or a controlled substance. Sale of drug paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with penalties including up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Under Virginia Code § 18.2-265.3 selling drug paraphernalia to a minor (at least 3 years junior) is a Class 6 felony.

Drug Paraphernalia Defenses

While the prosecutor may make it seem like you have no chance and should plead guilty, talk to your Virginia criminal defense attorney before agreeing to any plea deal. There are a number of legitimate uses for possessing items which the police considered drug paraphernalia. Your experienced criminal defense lawyer will look at the evidence in your case and identify the best defenses to drug paraphernalia charges, which can include:  

  • Unlawful search and seizure,
  • Legitimate use for the items or objects,
  • No intent to use with a controlled substance,
  • Authorized possession of the items, or
  • Another person was in possession of the alleged paraphernalia.

Another exception to Virginia's drug paraphernalia laws provides for possession for authorized use. These restrictions on syringes or needles do not apply to any person who is engaged in a job or position where injections are customary, including:

  • Doctors,
  • Hospitals,
  • Raising livestock or poultry,
  • Dentists,
  • Pharmacists, funeral directors, or
  • Others where paraphernalia was lawfully obtained and to be used for a legitimate purpose.

Charlottesville Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

The prosecutor may threaten serious criminal penalties for a drug paraphernalia conviction but there are a number of defenses available to anyone facing drug paraphernalia possession charges. Anyone facing drug-related charges in Virginia should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in Charlottesville, contact me today for a free consultation.

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