Most people in North Dakota already know that it is illegal to possess illicit substances such as cocaine, heroin or other drugs. However, did you know that you can also face criminal charges for having drug related items? Drug paraphernalia charges are probably even more common than you realize.
You can be arrested and charged if you possess any type of drug paraphernalia that state or federal law prohibits. Possession of paraphernalia may even prompt authorities to search for drugs, which you could face additional charges for if found. Here is what you need to know about drug paraphernalia and related charges.
What is drug paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia is an umbrella term that refers to equipment or items used to consume, conceal or manufacture drugs. Recreational marijuana is illegal in North Dakota, but it is approved for medical use. This means that police officers must exercise caution when they find paraphernalia related to marijuana use, such as rolling papers or pipes. Other examples of drug paraphernalia include:
- Scales, balances and other items used for weighing controlled substances
- Equipment to test purity and strength of controlled substances
- Chemicals or materials used to dilute narcotics
- Syringes or needles
- Miniature spoons
- Roach clips
- Water pipes
An officer cannot automatically make an arrest just because he or she found a small spoon, though. State law requires officers to employ a variety of factors to distinguish paraphernalia from otherwise lawful physical objects. Simply owning a food scale does not mean that someone is weighing out drugs.
Possession vs. dealing
Some people take the idea of paraphernalia possession extremely literally. This often translates into a misunderstanding in which someone might believe that he or she must actually be holding an item to be charged. In reality, the paraphernalia could be located in a bag, vehicle or in the same home as the defendant.
It is also possible to be charged with dealing drug paraphernalia. Both state and federal laws prohibit the sale or offering of any type of drug paraphernalia. It is also prohibited for you to mail or transport paraphernalia through the U.S. interstate system.
Minimizing the consequences
In general, legal consequences for drug paraphernalia possession are less severe than those for drug possession. This does not mean that you should not take your case seriously, though. Not only could you have to shell out for fines and, depending on the situation, spend time behind bars, a criminal record could also limit your opportunities in the future.
Minimizing the potential consequences for your drug paraphernalia charges should be a priority. Navigating the North Dakota legal system can be confusing though, especially for those who have not encountered legal problems in the past. Those who are unsure of where to start often find it helpful to review their charges within the context of state law.