Imagine being charged with a drug crime without any drugs being found in your possession. Sounds far-fetched, right? Well, not really.
The truth is, you can be arrested and charged with drug crimes even if none are found on you in this state. North Carolina makes it illegal to possess drug paraphernalia. That may seem a bit crazy since many items used as paraphernalia are available for purchase in stores, but it’s the law nonetheless.
Here’s what you need to know about drug paraphernalia charges in North Carolina and the consequences that can be faced if you are found guilty.
Drug Paraphernalia: What Is It?
Paraphernalia is simple to define under the law, as it’s basically equipment or an item used in certain activities. In the case of drug paraphernalia, the activity is drug usage.
When even innocent items that would otherwise be legal are used to deliver drugs to your system, they become drug paraphernalia. Therefore, they become illegal.
The Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
When it comes to cases involving drug paraphernalia, it’s all about context. That’s why, in many cases of drug paraphernalia, you’ll see that no drugs were found. If the context of the items fits, like scales with multiple baggies or cash, then that can be enough to convince authorities.
They’ll draw the conclusion that these items are being used in connection with illegal drugs. You may find yourself charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
If the intent of the paraphernalia was for any of the following, you may be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia:
- Consumption of illegal drugs
- Packaging of illegal drugs
- Processing of illegal drugs
- Planting of illegal drugs
- Storage of illegal drugs
- Digestion of illegal drugs
- Growing of illegal drugs
- Production of illegal drugs
- Concealment of illegal drugs
- Inhalation of illegal drugs
In conjunction with the intentions listed in the above example, the following items are also considered drug paraphernalia:
- Planting or growing kits
- Hypodermic needles
Consequences of Drug Paraphernalia Charges
There are two ways that the law in North Carolina deals with drug paraphernalia.
Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia
It used to be a Class 1 misdemeanor to possess rolling papers or a pipe used to ingest marijuana. However, North Caroline softened the laws specifically around marijuana paraphernalia a few years ago.
Today, it’s a Class 3 misdemeanor to possess marijuana paraphernalia. If convicted of this crime, most people will face only probation and a small fine. However, you can go to jail for as many as 20 days for this charge, so it’s a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney when charged with even a low-level crime like this.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
This is the more serious law surrounding drug paraphernalia in North Carolina. It is reserved for paraphernalia related to drugs that are not marijuana, such as cocaine or heroin.
This is a Class 1 misdemeanor charge, which may sound inconsequential. However, it comes with a penalty of as much as 120 days in jail, plus community service and even classes for the treatment of substance abuse.
It may seem like if you don’t have drugs on you, then you can’t be charged with drug crimes. As you can see, that assumption is wrong. Make sure you don’t keep drug paraphernalia if you don’t want to be charged with a crime.