Together with drug possession charges, possession of drug paraphernalia charges are among the most common charged crimes. Anything may be referred as drug paraphernalia; however items such as roach clips, glass pipes, syringes or bongs are mostly associated with this offence. All states have their own laws that make the sale, use and possession of the items. However, the wording of the jurisdictions and their application differ from one state to the other.
Most state laws have specification on what qualifies as paraphernalia. The laws list certain items that are banned, for example, opium pipe, vials, miniature spoons and others. Other items that can be classified as paraphernalia are those used for manufacturing, weighing, growing or packing illegal drugs.
In drug paraphernalia cases, a prosecutor has to produce the items in court and prove that they are used for drug use or the person caught in their possession had the intention to use them for drug purposes. For a court to determine if a certain item is paraphernalia, they consider different factors involved in the circumstances surrounding the case. The court will look if the item was placed near illegal drugs, if the items have drug residue and the testimony provided by experts about the item or its usage. Courts have wide discretion when determining whether the item is paraphernalia or not.
The charges are differentiated between those involving possession and distribution of the items. Possession crimes involve individual use of the paraphernalia, while distribution charges involve the sale and provision of the items to other people. It is possible to be convicted for possession of paraphernalia if the prosecutor shows that you were holding the items or they were under your control. You can also be convicted for constructive possession whereby you have full control of the items, but do not carry them with you.