Prosecutors often do their best to convince defendants that their best option is to plead guilty when they are faced with a drug paraphernalia charge. However, this is not always the case. In this review, we discuss how to get a drug paraphernalia charge dismissed in Virginia, highlighting when you should seek dismissal (or plead guilty) and how your criminal defense attorney can assist you throughout the process.
How Is Drug Paraphernalia Defined in Virginia?
Drug paraphernalia is a relatively broad term that refers to items or devices that are used to consume drugs. In many cases, drug paraphernalia may have other (legitimate) uses as well. Specifically, the Virginia Code § 18.2-265.1 defines drug paraphernalia as:
- Equipment, products, and materials intended for use in various drug-related activities, including planting, producing, and harvesting marijuana, manufacturing and testing controlled substances, storing or concealing drugs, and inhaling or injecting controlled substances.
For example, scales, packaging containers, storage containers, and hypodermic needles are some of the more common types of drug paraphernalia. In many states — including Virginia — the possession of drug paraphernalia is illegal (see below).
About Drug Paraphernalia Laws in Virginia
According to Virginia Code § 54.1-3466, the possession and distribution of controlled paraphernalia is illegal. The possession of drug paraphernalia in Virginia is class 1 misdemeanor, which can result in a sentence of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Specifically, “controlled paraphernalia” are instruments used to administer a controlled dangerous substance by injection or used instruments used to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance. Bongs, water pipes, needles, and scales are common examples.
The Sale of Drug Paraphernalia
The sale (or possession with the intent to sell) drug paraphernalia is a separate offense. This crime is also considered a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. However, under Virginia Code § 18.2-265.3, selling drug paraphernalia to a minor (at least 3 years junior) is a Class 6 felony.
How to Form a Drug Paraphernalia Defense in Virginia?
As mentioned, there are many legitimate uses for drug paraphernalia in Virginia. If you have been charged with a drug paraphernalia offense, then you should understand your legal options. We recommend speaking with an attorney before you enter into a plea deal. Your criminal defense attorney should review the details of your charge and the evidence and help you form the best defense to your drug paraphernalia charge.
In many cases, defendants are able to have the charge dismissed altogether. Some of the best defenses to a drug paraphernalia charge are:
- Legitimate use for the items or objects considered to be drug paraphernalia
- Unlawful search and seizure
- No intent to use with a controlled substance
- Authorized possession of the items (see below)
All too often we see individuals who are charged with drug paraphernalia despite the fact they have authorization to possess the items from a doctor, hospital, or someone else who has the right to use the paraphernalia.
In some cases, the defendant is charged even though someone else was in possession, in which case the defendant may be able to have the case dismissed depending on the scope of the evidence against them.
When Should I Seek Dismissal for a Drug Paraphernalia Charge?
Whether or not you should seek dismissal for a drug paraphernalia charge depends largely on the details of your case. We strongly advise speaking directly with a criminal defense attorney in your area before making this decision. Specifically, you should find a criminal defense attorney who has experience with (and success dealing with) Virginia drug paraphernalia charges.
Of course, if you feel the charge is not legitimate due to the reasons discussed above, then seeking dismissal may be your best option. Although the sentence for most drug paraphernalia charges in Virginia is relatively minor, it still goes on your record and can have an impact on your future.
Therefore, although it happens far too often, it is not generally advised to enter a guilty plea if you have not committed the crime. Of course, if there is overwhelming evidence against you and/or you have made an admission of guilt, then your criminal defense attorney may advise you to take the guilty plea.
In summary, the details of every case are unique and should be examined closely when determining if you are able to have a drug paraphernalia charge dismissed.
Contact the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge
Have you or a loved one been charged with the possession (or intent to sell) drug paraphernalia? If so, then we are here to help. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge have experience assisting defendants facing drug paraphernalia charges in Virginia. Contact us today to learn more and get started.