Possession of drug paraphernalia is an interesting charge. Individuals can face harsh consequences for being caught with an item that indicates intent of drug use, even if no drugs are present. For example, things like glass crack pipes or razor blades could be a reason for an officer to make an arrest even if there is no drug residue present. If you or a loved one has received this charge, the next essential step is an attorney consultation. An experienced New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin will help analyze the case and create a defense to have the charge dropped or at least downgraded. Your attorney will help you understand what exactly is considered drug paraphernalia, the consequences associated with the charge, and can also explain potential defenses for court.

What is Drug Paraphernalia? 

When it comes to drug paraphernalia, New Jersey law is very specific about what “intent” of use means. Basically, if the item in your possession is intended for drug use, it is drug paraphernalia. New Jersey Law 2C:36-2 states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to use, or possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to…” The law then goes on to list out all of these uses:

  • Plant
  • Propagate
  • Cultivate
  • Grow
  • Harvest
  • Manufacture
  • Compound
  • Convert
  • Produce 
  • Process
  • Prepare
  • Test
  • Analyze
  • Pack
  • Repack
  • Store
  • Contain
  • Conceal
  • Ingest
  • Inhale

The law concludes by saying if the plan is to introduce a controlled dangerous substance to the body, the paraphernalia is illegal. As a result, it violates the law.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Penalties 

The police regard possession of drug paraphernalia as a serious charge. If you receive this charge, you could face up to six months of jail time. Depending on the circumstances, you will also have to pay a fine – anywhere from $500-$1,000. Finally, the court can suspend your license for up to two years. This charge can be very disruptive to the life of the defendant. Between jail time and the suspended license, the charge can make it difficult for the individual to keep their job. The fine can also be difficult financially. In addition, the defendant now has an established criminal record. This can affect things later in life, like applying for certain jobs, enlisting in the military, or applying to college. By working with an attorney, the goal is to use a defense to have charges completely dropped so that you won’t face the punishment and won’t have a criminal record. If that’s not possible, the next step is trying to have charges downgraded so that you don’t face harsher penalties and hopefully won’t get a criminal charge. 

Possible Defenses 

The goal is to find an attorney to consult with who has a lot of experience working in drug-related cases. This type of attorney can draw on their past experience and knowledge of the law to create a defense that can have the charges downgraded or dismissed. Leon Matchin is a Certified Municipal Trial Attorney who has been working as a lawyer for almost 20 years. He has worked with several clients facing possession of CDS charges and possession of drug paraphernalia charges. He is an expert on New Jersey law and stays up-to-date on any changes and updates made to laws and penalties. If you work with Leon Matchin, you will have someone on your side who deeply cares and who will work tirelessly so you can receive the best outcome in court. 

List of Possible Defenses

When it comes to creating a defense, your lawyer will carefully analyze your case to determine what can be done. Here are some common possession of drug paraphernalia defenses: 

  • Conditional Discharge: This option is for first-time drug offenders. Conditional discharge is a diversionary program in the municipal court system. This program allows drug charges to be dismissed after a year of being on probation, as long as the defendant passes every administered drug test and does not get arrested during the year-long period.
  • No Intent: In order to be arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, the key is that the item was intended for drug use. If there were no drugs found on the defendant, it becomes difficult for the court to prove that the object in question was paraphernalia. 
  • Not Yours: Imagine this scenario: you are pulled over for speeding. The police officer notices drug paraphernalia in your back seat. The officer arrests you for possession. Perhaps the item was not even yours. Maybe you share a car with a sibling or roommate, or maybe a friend left it in the backseat. Your lawyer can create a case proving that while you were technically in possession of paraphernalia, it’s not actually yours.
  • Legal Possession: An item that looks like drug paraphernalia could actually be something used for medical treatment. For example, some diseases require patients to give themselves shots with a syringe. In this case, a syringe is not drug paraphernalia. 
  • Search and Seizure was Illegal: This defense can work if police officers performed an illegal search and seizure of your home or car. If they had no reason to search and did so anyway, this can be used as a defense in court. 

How a New Jersey Attorney Can Help With Drug Paraphernalia Charges

If you’re facing charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, don’t be discouraged. Through attorney consultation, charges can often be dismissed or downgraded. As a result, you can also potentially avoid harsh penalties. If you live in New Jersey, Leon Matchin is your go-to attorney for all drug-related cases. He is very experienced and knowledgeable in defending clients. For more information about how he can help, contact Leon Matchin right away by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected]