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Drug paraphernalia refers to devices or objects used to inhale, inject, or consume a controlled substance. These objects may range from a syringe for injecting heroin to a household item such as a slip of foil or miniature spoon. When intended to consume controlled substances, the illegal use of these devices can lead to charges for possession of drug paraphernalia according to California law. If convicted of a drug offense, the effect upon your personal and professional life can be devastating. Riverside drug paraphernalia lawyer Gregory H. Comings vigorously defends individuals facing criminal charges for felony and misdemeanor drug crimes, including crimes of trafficking, cultivation, and possession. He understands the legal process and has successfully worked toward a favorable outcome on behalf of clients for more than 19 years.
To convict a defendant of a drug offense, the prosecution must meet all elements of the crime. For example, possession of drug paraphernalia, set forth in California Health & Safety Code section 11364, includes unlawful possession of an object that may be used to unlawfully inject or consume a controlled substance, knowledge of the object’s presence, and knowledge that the object could be used to unlawfully inject or consume a controlled substance. If the prosecution cannot prove any of these elements, the conviction cannot stand.
Controlled substances include chemicals or drugs regulated by the government under the United States Controlled Substances Act. The manufacture, possession, and use of drugs such as heroin, opium, PCP, cocaine, and methamphetamine is regulated by the federal government. Possessing a device used to inject or ingest these substances is a crime under California Health and Safety Code section 11364. However, possession of paraphernalia used for marijuana is not a crime under California Penal Code section 11364.
As an element of the crime of possession of drug paraphernalia, knowledge refers to an awareness of the substance’s presence and knowledge that it was a controlled substance. Possession of the device or instrument refers to either actual possession or constructive possession. Actual possession occurs when a person has control over the substance, either holding it in their hand or on their person. Constructive possession arises when a person is not holding or touching the substance, but has control over it or the right to control it. An individual may be assumed to exercise control over their bedroom, for example.
As a misdemeanor, possession of drug paraphernalia can lead to imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000. Conviction for this crime may also include probation or parole. In some cases, a defendant may face probation and be ordered to complete community service, and attend drug counseling. Others may be offered a drug diversion program, and upon completion, they may have their case dismissed.
A skilled criminal defense attorney can work to negotiate a potential reduction in charges, or a dismissal in some cases. One defense is that the defendant was authorized to use the paraphernalia. An example may include the use of a syringe to treat diabetes. Additionally, there may be other applicable defenses, for instance, when law enforcement engaged in tactics that violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.
Other defenses include lack of evidence or failure to prove all elements of the crime. For example, if the element of knowledge is not met, the defendant may not be convicted. The prosecution is required to show that the defendant knew the item was used to inject or consume a controlled substance. They must also show the defendant was aware of the presence of the object, either in the area they controlled or on their person. A conviction cannot stand if the facts indicate that the defendant had no knowledge of the presence of the paraphernalia. This is also true regarding the element of possession; the prosecution must show the defendant had control or possession of the device. A conviction cannot stand for a defendant simply present in the area where a syringe filled with heroin was found.
A strong legal defense can make a large difference if you are facing criminal charges involving drug paraphernalia. Riverside drug offenses lawyer Gregory H. Comings is available 24/7 to provide you the diligent and effective representation you deserve. Contact our office by phone at (951) 686-3457 or reach us online for immediate help. Attorney Comings is proud to represent people throughout Moreno Valley, Palm Desert, Highland, Temecula, Palm Springs, Rancho Cucamonga, and San Bernardino.