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An overview of drug paraphernalia

Despite the changing attitudes toward some illegal drugs in California and throughout the rest of the country, our readers know that being arrested in connection with illegal drugs can still lead to serious consequences. Drug charges that allege attempts to manufacture and distribute drugs are the most serious. Drug possession is usually a lesser charge, although it still has the potential to change a person's life if a conviction is the result. Possession of drug paraphernalia is another type of drug charge a California resident may face.

Many people are not familiar with what exactly constitutes "drug paraphernalia." The term encompasses a wide variety of items that are related to drug use, possession or concealment, but that are not actual drugs. For instance, items that are used to inhale marijuana, such as pipes or bongs, would be considered drug paraphernalia. Other items that could be considered drug paraphernalia are: syringes, deceptive devices used to hide illegal drugs and crack pipes.

Drug paraphernalia charges are oftentimes add-on charges when a person is arrested for another drug-related charge. Drug paraphernalia charges are usually misdemeanors under California law. They can be part of a package of charges resulting from a drug-related arrest or they can stem from incidents such as a traffic stop, in which police find the paraphernalia in a person's vehicle.

Most of the media coverage our California readers see regarding drug-related arrests tends to skew toward coverage of drug trafficking and distribution operations. However, misdemeanor drug charges, like possession of paraphernalia, are also common. Therefore, when a California resident faces these types of charges they will probably want to take the same care in planning a criminal defense strategy.

Source: Justice.gov, "Drug Paraphernalia Fast Facts," accessed June 7, 2015

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