Sometimes the law is unclear. Police and other authorities often have standards that are so specific, it’s hard to tell what is legal and what isn’t.
For example, drug paraphernalia can be hard to define. Innocent, everyday objects can be used to take or distribute drugs. Police can easily charge someone with having paraphernalia when that person has no connection to the drug world.
Tennessee, in particular, has quite a broad definition. Here are some ways the state classifies paraphernalia.
Items Used to Take Drugs
Any item that allows you to take drugs can be considered paraphernalia.
Such items include:
Items Used to Produce Drugs
Many drugs require some form of processing before hitting the streets.
Many different objects are used to produce drugs, including:
- Mixing devices
- Cutting devices
- Testing devices
Items Used to Distribute Drugs
Drug distribution is charged much more heavily than possession.
The following items could be used to accuse you of distribution, leading to heavy penalties:
- Storage containers
The Problem of Paraphernalia
The issue with the above classifications should be instantly clear. In many cases, these are completely innocent items. Even a pipe, which has no other use than for smoking, can be strictly for tobacco use. Police may find you with one of these objects and jump to conclusions, arresting you for a crime you didn’t commit.
Paraphernalia Connected to Other Crimes
Alleged paraphernalia can also be used to trump up other drug crimes. For instance, drug distribution charges are often based on the amount of drugs the police find.
If, however, the police find small amounts of drugs, they can make assumptions based on other objects they discover. Imagine that the authorities find someone with a small amount of cocaine, enough for personal use. That suspect, however, also has baggies, scales, and other items the police believe are used for distribution. They could use these objects as evidence, making a simple possession charge much worse.
Drug Paraphernalia Penalties in Tennessee
Possession of paraphernalia in the state:
- Class A misdemeanor
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Fines up to $2,500
Possession penalties also rise the more times you are charged. For a first offense, you must pay a mandatory $150 fine. Any further offenses come with a mandatory $250 fine.
Distribution is a more serious offense:
- Class E felony
- 1 to 6 years in prison
- Fines up to $3,000
Get Help from an Attorney
No matter the charges or the evidence against you, you have the right to defend yourself in court. Talk to a skilled attorney who can scrutinize the allegations. They may be able to find inconsistencies in the case and help expose them in court. Remember, if your attorney can create any doubt in your case, you may be able to walk free.
An effective defense is to simply claim that the items in question were not for drugs. Perhaps you have an Etsy store, and you need these baggies, weights, and so on to sell your wares. Maybe you are a tobacco aficionado, and you need certain pipes to fully experience your rare purchases. Talk to your attorney about the actual use of these objects, and they may be able to craft a reasonable defense for you.
If you’ve been arrested with a drug paraphernalia charge, reach out to our firm today for help. You can contact us online or call us at (931) 361-4477.