Understanding Tennessee's Drug Paraphernalia Law

Tennessee, like most states, has specific rules governing controlled substances, particularly the possession, production, and sale of them. When drugs are criminalized, the law also typically includes prohibitions that prevent the ownership of materials used in connection with the illegal drug. Controlled materials used in connection with controlled substances are called paraphernalia.

What Is Drug Paraphernalia?

Paraphernalia, according to Tennessee law, is any material used to grown, use, or make an illegal drug. Many people are often surprised when they realize that objects and materials can have both a legal purpose, and when they are used for their created and stated purpose, they are legal. However, a legal item can immediately become an illegal one if found with controlled substances.

Common legal items that instantly become illegal when used with a controlled substance:

  • Balloons
  • Pens
  • Plastic Bags
  • Scales
  • Small Spoons

These items could include a conviction because the material isn’t illegal – the action of using it to facilitate drug sales, usage, or creation makes the object part of a crime. The material or item won’t be identified as a criminal object unless law enforcement can prove it’s a drug tool. They will do this by examining any found item and materials for evidence of recent or previous drug usage. They look for signs of drug use like burns, residue, or reconfiguration. For example, reconfiguring a small spoon to make it easier for drug use would convert a legal object into an illegal one.

Tennessee Penalties for Possessing of Drug Paraphernalia

According to Tennessee law (TCA § 39-17-425), you can be convicted on drug paraphernalia charges if the prosecution can prove usage or intent to use the paraphernalia to complete any of the following drug-related tasks with a controlled substance:

“plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body.”

Personal possession of drug paraphernalia carries up to $2500 in fines, is a Class A misdemeanor, and can lead to just under 12 months in jail. While these fines and penalties vary by case, if found guilty, those charged could still be made to pay court costs or receive probation. The maximum fine is $2500 for a drug paraphernalia charge, even with prior convictions. However, the minimum fine does change based on an individual’s criminal history. If an individual has a prior offense, the minimum fine could change to:

  • Fines of at $150+ for a first conviction
  • Fines of at $250+ for any following convictions
  • Drug paraphernalia charges can become a Class E felony when an individual is found to have these items with the intent to sell or deliver drugs. Fines for Class E felony drug paraphernalia charges vary, but those found guilty could face fines up to $50,000 and up to two years in prison.

Contact a Tennessee Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately!

Being charged with personal possession of drug paraphernalia carries serious consequences, especially if drugs or residue were found on the premises with the paraphernalia. One of the best actions you could take if you find yourself in this situation is to contact a Tennessee drug crime defense attorney immediately. Waiting means you could lose valuable evidence to prove your innocence. Can you afford to wait? If you are someone you care about has been charged with personal possession of drug paraphernalia or another drug-related crime, contact the attorneys at Patton Pittman today. We can review the details of your case and discuss defense ideas.

Call us today at (931) 361-4477 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form to request more information.

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