Los Angeles Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Defense Attorney
Have you recently been arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia in Los Angeles, CA? Contact The Rodriguez Law Group for immediate assistance with your defense. Drug-related charges are serious, and you need to begin to fight to protect your future as soon as you can.
Our Los Angeles drug paraphernalia possession defense lawyers are ready to help you understand your options, protect your legal rights, and keep you out of jail. Give our law office in Los Angeles a call to arrange your free consultation to get started today.
How Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help if You’ve Been Charged With Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
A paraphernalia drug charge, a criminal misdemeanor, is often a secondary charge to a possession charge – HS 11350 – a “wobbler” crime that can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. People charged with HS 11364 also often face charges of HS 11365 (Presence During Unlawful Controlled Substance Use), along with possible sales and trafficking charges (which are felonies)
If you are facing drug charges, do not delay in contacting an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.
With more than 13 years of experience as a Senior Deputy District Attorney and 20 years of criminal law experience, Ambrosio Rodriguez knows the ropes and understands how “the system” works. The Rodriguez Law Group only defends people facing criminal prosecution. With one call, you do not need to be in the courtroom unprepared. You can have the best team on your side fighting for you.
We offer a free initial case evaluation. Contact our skilled team to schedule a time to sit down to discuss your criminal drug case today.
Overview of Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Los Angeles, CA
Possession of paraphernalia is not a federal crime. However, in California, under Health & Safety Code (HS) 11364, it is illegal to possess drug paraphernalia.
Paraphernalia refers to any device used to inject or smoke a controlled substance, including, but not limited to:
- miniature spoons
- smoking masks.
California takes drug crimes seriously – police are eager to arrest, and prosecutors are ready to convict. An arrest for possession of paraphernalia is a drug crime, even if you are not charged with possession of a drug. Your future is at stake, and the charge must be taken seriously. If you are in the US as a non-US citizen, even a minor drug offense can trigger serious immigration consequences.
Following an arrest, a knowledgeable and skilled lawyer can help you understand your options, protect your legal rights, and keep you out of jail.
HS 11364 (a): California’s Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Statute
In order to prove that the defendant is guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia crime, the prosecution must prove three things:
- The defendant [unlawfully] possessed an object used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance;
- The defendant knew of the object’s presence;
- The defendant knew it to be an object used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance.
Controlled substances include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, opium, and PCP. Note that possession of a device for smoking marijuana, without more, is not a crime.
Penalties to HS 11364
California recognizes that it does not always make sense to throw someone in jail for a minor drug crime. Possession of paraphernalia (HS 11364) is a criminal misdemeanor (less serious than a felony), subject to a maximum penalty of six months in county jail or a $1,000 fine. You may also be placed on a formal probation program and assigned a probation officer.
An eligible first-time offender may be given the opportunity to participate in a Penal Code 1000 pretrial diversion program, which is generally viewed as a favorable option. Certain criteria apply. For example, the offense must not involve a crime of violence or threatened violence. The court will look at whether the drugs were for personal usage vs. for the purpose of selling them. Additionally, the court will take into account whether or not the defendant would gain from entering a drug treatment program. Upon completing the program, the court will dismiss the HS 11364 charges against the defendant.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, it will remain on your criminal record and may show up in background checks for employment and housing. California limits background checks to a seven-year review. A skilled lawyer can help you decide the best strategy for your situation.
Possible Defenses to HS 11364
Below are some of the defenses that The Rodriguez Law Group may raise in possession of paraphernalia charge:
- The paraphernalia was for authorized, legal use: For example, if you obtained needles from a needle-exchange program, you cannot be prosecuted. The prosecution will have the burden of proving the items were not obtained from a legal, authorized source.
- What law enforcement found was not drug paraphernalia: Many of the items designed for drug use have other legal uses. The prosecutor must prove that you planned to use the tools for drugs, or were already using them.
- You didn’t know that the item was drug paraphernalia: If you bought a small spoon at a flea market, believing it was for stirring cocktails, and did not know it was intended for cocaine snorting, you could not be convicted of possession of paraphernalia charge. Or if you bought a box of miscellaneous household items at a garage sale, thinking you were bringing home cooking utensils, you would likely not be charged with HS 11364. Insufficient or unsubstantial evidence may not be enough to convict you.
- The paraphernalia didn’t belong to you: Having possession of paraphernalia on you is not sufficient. You must (1) know of the device’s presence, and (2) know the item is designed/made for the consumption of illegal drugs. If you borrowed your roommate’s backpack for a trip to see your family, and are stopped at the airport because there is a crack pipe in it, you cannot be convicted of possession of paraphernalia if you had no idea it was in the bag.
- The police discovered the paraphernalia during an illegal search or seizure: Police may not search you unless they have a valid search warrant from a judge, or the search falls within one of several exceptions to the warrant requirement recognized by federal and California courts. A minor traffic violation, such as speeding or driving without a license, is not probable cause to search your vehicle. However, if drugs are in plain sight on the center console, this could give an officer probable cause to make an arrest and conduct a search.
Proving that probable cause didn’t exist is one of the most common ways to get charges dropped altogether. A skilled lawyer who is a former prosecutor will understand the tactics prosecution will use at trial and break down the other side’s case.
HS 11364.5: Operating a Business That Sells Paraphernalia
Beyond items for injecting and smoking, the state does not allow you to sell drug paraphernalia for use with lawful substances, including a wide variety of items used in growing, manufacturing, weighing, packaging, and using drugs. “Paraphernalia” under HS 11364.5 includes:
- Kits for planting, cultivating, propagating, growing, or harvesting of any species of plant which is a controlled substance or something that controlled substance can be derived from
- Kits for manufacturing, compounding, converting, processing, producing, or preparing controlled substances.
- Isomerization devices used to strengthen the potency of any species of plant which is a controlled substance.
- Equipment used test, analyze, and identify the strength, purity, or effectiveness, of certain controlled substances.
- Scales and balances to weigh or measure controlled substances.
- Diluents and adulterants, including quinine hydrochloride, mannitol, mannite, dextrose, and lactose, to use in cutting controlled substances.
- Separation gins and sifters to remove twigs and seeds from, or in otherwise cleaning or refining, cannabis.
- Bowls, blenders, containers, spoons, and mixing devices intended or designed for use in compounding controlled substances.
- Capsules, envelopes, balloons, and other containers used to package small quantities of controlled substances.
- Containers and other objects used to store or conceal controlled substances.
- Hypodermic syringes, needles, and other objects used to inject controlled substances into the human body.
- Objects used to ingest, inhale, or introduce cannabis, cocaine, hashish, or hashish oil into the human body, such as the following:
- Pipes (metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic) with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls.
- Water pipes, carburetor pipes, electric, chamber, or air-driven pipes.
- Carburetion tubes and devices.
- Smoking and carburetion masks.
- Roach clips, metal clamps used to hold burning material, such as a cannabis cigarette.
- Miniature cocaine spoons, and cocaine vials.
If you are convicted of HS 11364.5, you could lose your business permit, and the state could seize any drug paraphernalia.
Get a Free Case Evaluation With a Drug Crimes Lawyer in Los Angeles
Being charged with a drug crime causes extreme emotional, mental, and psychological stress. Do not take on a criminal case alone. If you’ve been charged with a drug paraphernalia crime or any other drug charges, The Rodriguez Law Group can help you defend your rights and your future. We will work hard to build strong defenses and mitigating factors. Contact us to schedule a free phone or video consultation with a Los Angeles possession of drug paraphernalia defense lawyer.
Last Updated on April 20, 2022