What is Considered Drug Paraphernalia?
A person does not have to be in possession of the actual illegal substance to face drug charges. When an individual is in possession of items related to illegal drugs, he or she could be charged with paraphernalia possession. In most cases, however, the individual has both the paraphernalia and the illegal substances.
The state of New Mexico does have laws against the sale, use, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Under the right circumstances, just about anything could be considered drug paraphernalia – which makes it difficult to defend. If you have been arrested for paraphernalia possession (with or without the actual illegal substance), contact a criminal defense attorney right away.
By definition, drug paraphernalia is any equipment that is associated with an illegal substance or that can be used to distribute/sell that illegal substance. This can include things like opium pipes, water pipes, vials, hypodermic needles (when there is no medical necessity for them), miniature spoons, etc. It can also include items that are used to manufacture or package the products, such as plastic bags, growing materials, weighing machines, etc.
Possession Laws for the State
New Mexico does have a medical marijuana program; therefore, those with valid prescription cards can be in possession of marijuana. However, just because there is a medical program does not mean that law enforcement is lenient to those who are caught in possession of illegal substances. If the items of paraphernalia that you are found in possession of are designed for drug use, the prosecution can show that your possession of those items was intended for drug use.
The courts will consider if an object was actually paraphernalia. To do that, they will look at the factors involved in your case, such as:
- If the paraphernalia was located near actual illegal substances.
- If there were any statements made about the items.
- If the items contain any drug residue.
- If an expert witness can testify that the object is commonly used for drug use, manufacturing, or distribution.
Unfortunately, there is no one set standard list of circumstances that say one way or the other whether something is considered “paraphernalia.” Instead, it is up to the courts to interpret the circumstances of your arrest, and the evidence presented.
Penalties for Paraphernalia – Can You Go to Jail?
Possession of drug paraphernalia is charged as a misdemeanor offense in New Mexico. However, in some situations, the charge could escalate to a felony – though this is rare. If you are in simple possession of drug paraphernalia, the penalties are much lighter than those who are charged with sentences for manufacturing or distributing. Some penalties that you could face include:
- Jail or prison time.
- Time served – the court may feel that the time you awaited for your trial was time enough for punishment.
- Fines, which range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on how many previous convictions you have.
- Probation or diversion programs to avoid such behavior in the future.
Were You Arrested with Drug Paraphernalia?
If you are being accused of possession of drug paraphernalia or other drug crimes, contact the criminal defense team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. We are here to help you with your case. We work hard with local prosecutors to look for alternative sentences – especially for first time offenders. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at 505-375-4661 or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.