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Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in CA


In California, not only can you be arrested for drug possession, but you can also be charged with illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, which is defined as any device or instrument used for unlawfully consuming, inhaling, ingesting, injecting, or smoking a controlled substance. In fact, everyday household items can be used as drug paraphernalia. 

Common examples of drug paraphernalia include: 

  • Pipes 

  • Miniature spoons 

  • Cocaine freebase kits 

  • Straws 

  • Compact mirrors 

  • Tinfoil 

  • Nozzles 

  • Balloons 

  • Aerosol cans 

Since 2021, possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe for personal use is not against the law if they come from a lawful source, such as a needle exchange or pharmacy. Additionally, marijuana-related objects such as rolling papers, roach clips, and bongs are not considered drug paraphernalia since cannabis is legalized for recreational use in California. 

Illegal possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of six (6) months and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000. In many cases, a judge will place defendants on probation or parole, which means they must meet certain conditions—such as random drug testing, counseling, and frequent meetings with their probation/parole supervisor—while they serve their sentence. 

If you hold a professional license, a conviction can result in license suspension, which will inevitably put your career in jeopardy. If you are a business owner, a conviction may lead to losing your business license. 

If you have been arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, you need to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and freedom. Your attorney can review your case and determine your available legal options to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your case. 

The following are common defenses to illegal possession of drug paraphernalia: 

  • Legal authorization or possession of hypodermic needles 

  • The alleged device wasn’t drug paraphernalia 

  • The paraphernalia does not belong to you 

  • You were unaware that the device was drug paraphernalia 

  • The discovery of the device occurred during an illegal search or seizure 

If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Santa Barbara, call Appel & Morse at (805) 467-6060 or complete our online contact form today for a free initial consultation! Get a team of former prosecutors on your side. 

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