Drug Paraphernalia Offenses in West Palm Beach
Both state and federal law prohibit and set strict restrictions on controlled substances. Possessing even a small amount of almost any kind of controlled substance without proper authorization is illegal, and can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. Possessing Schedule I substances more often leads to felony charges for which harsh penalties could ensue upon a conviction. Drug laws in Florida are so harsh that even possessing items commonly used in connection with controlled substances — such as anything that can help you ingest, sell, manufacture, or cultivate them, is also a criminal offense.
Defining Drug Paraphernalia in Florida
Drug paraphernalia is a broad term for items you can use to make use of illegal substances. Section §893.147 of the Florida Statutes defines drug paraphernalia as anything that is used to:
In addition, it is illegal to possess anything used to inject, inhale, or otherwise introduce controlled substances to the body.
Some of the more common items that have led to drug paraphernalia charges include pipes, vaporizers, rolling papers, storage bags, scales, capsules, vials, and chemicals used to make synthetic drugs like meth; which, unlike marijuana and heroin, is not derived from a plant.
Possessing Drug Paraphernalia
Simple possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor crime of the first degree. Penalties for first-degree misdemeanors in Florida include up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, if this is a first offense it will open up a criminal record.
Prosecutors must prove every element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. These charges typically accompany charges of drug possession, which could be misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the type of drug, the quantity, and other facts of your case.
Delivering Drug Paraphernalia
South Florida contains many shops that sell items that could be construed as paraphernalia, even right here in West Palm Beach. The items themselves are not illicit; they are prohibited if they are possessed with intent to illegally use controlled substances. At times, prosecutors may be able to prove associates at these stores knew the items they sold would be used for illegal substances. In these cases, the seller of these items can be charged with a third-degree felony for delivery of drug paraphernalia. The manufacturers can also be charged. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Possible Defenses to Drug Paraphernalia Possession
Drug charges remain severe charges that may cripple your future prospects if you are convicted. Retaining a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer is paramount to protecting your rights and your future.
Attorney Brian Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel may be able to come up with a solid defense to a drug paraphernalia charge once he learns the facts of your case. Possible defenses for drug paraphernalia possession may include:
- Constructive possession. If the paraphernalia was found in a place to which more than one person had access, the prosecutor would need to comply with the law of constructive possession, which requires him to prove that a) you had knowledge of the paraphernalia’s presence, and b) you had dominion and control over the paraphernalia. If more than one person had access to the location where the paraphernalia was kept, it may be difficult to prove it was yours.
- The police officers conducted an illegal search and seizure. It is not uncommon for law enforcement officers to overstep the scope of their authority and coerce suspects into agreeing to a search. Depending on the details of your case, Mr. Gabriel might be able to show that the officers who arrested you were out of line, rendering the evidence they obtained inadmissible.
The sooner you communicate with a qualified defense lawyer about your drug paraphernalia charge, the more he may be able to do for you to get a positive result.
Drug Paraphernalia Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach
Misdemeanor and felony drug paraphernalia charges can accompany other drug charges. All these charges combined can lead to a whirlwind of strict penalties if convicted. You cannot take a chance on your future by not hiring a competent attorney to defend every one of these charges. Attorney Brian Gabriel has served West Palm Beach and surrounding areas as a thoughtful and creative criminal defense attorney who stands up for the rights of the criminally accused. He has built his career for more than 25 years and is one of The National Trial Lawyers’s Top 100 Lawyers.
If you are facing drug charges in West Palm Beach, contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel or call 561-622-5575 to schedule a free consultation with attorney Brian Gabriel. You must act quickly to work toward a strong case.