POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE LAWS – PENNSYLVANIA

DRUG PARAPHERNALIA (35 P.S. 780-113)

Pennsylvania law prohibits the use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia. (35 P.S. 780-113(a)(32)). Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, a person can face imprisonment of up to 1 year and a fine not to exceed $2,500.00.

WHAT CONSTITUTES DRUG PARAPHERNALIA?

Drug paraphernalia includes all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used or intended to be used for planting, growing, manufacturing, ingesting or inhaling a controlled substance such as kits used to grow marijuana or other controlled substance, scales and balances, sifters, bowls, miniature cocaine spoons, plastic bags or balloons, containers, needles, syringes, pipes, roach clips, bongs and similar objects.

In determining whether a device meets the definition of drug paraphernalia, law enforcement and the court must consider relevant factors such as statements by an owner or someone in control of the object, the proximity of the object to a direct violation of the Pennsylvania drug laws, the existence of any residue, and the proximity of the object to any controlled substances.

DRUGS COMMONLY USED WITH DRUG PARAPHERNALIA

Marijuana, Cocaine, LSD, Methamphetamine, Heroin, Opiates, PCP, Mushrooms, and Opium

DEFENSE CONSIDERATIONS

Personal Use. Drug paraphernalia that is authorized for your own personal use is not illegal. For example, if a person is arrested for possessing needles and syringes; however, the needles and syringes are from a doctor that were prescribed for insulin injections, then the person lawfully possessed the needles and syringes so long as they were not used for an illegal purpose.

Authorization. If drug paraphernalia is found on a person who is authorized to possess it, such as a doctor or a nurse, then there is a strong defense to the charges.

Possession. Actual possession of paraphernalia, such as a bowl found in one’s pocket, is difficult to defend. However, constructive possession of paraphernalia, such as a bowl found under the passenger seat in a car, provides stronger arguments for the defense. If the prosecution cannot prove possession, then the prosecution has no case.

Lack of knowledge. The prosecution must prove that you were aware of the presence of the paraphernalia’s presence. If the prosecution cannot prove that you had knowledge, then an attorney can successfully defend the case.

Illegal search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. There are a long line of court cases to interpret this very important protection including the probable cause requirement and formalities and procedures when conducting traffic stops. If law enforcement violated your rights, then the chances of winning the case increase significantly.

CRIMINAL LAWYERS – THE MARTIN LAW FIRM, P.C.

Lawyers with experience in drug paraphernalia cases can help you navigate through the criminal court process, assess the evidence against you, and determine whether the case should go to trial or a negotiated outcome is in your best interests. A lawyer can also help you determine whether a Section 17 disposition applies to your case or if Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is recommended. For a free case evaluation, contact The Martin Law Firm, P.C. today at 215-687-4053.