Possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime in Tennessee. Convictions can result in local jail or prison time, a criminal record which can make it hard to find a job or a place to live, fines and court costs, and the need to work with a probation officer on release from custody. There are often defenses that can be used to help obtain a dismissal of the charges, a negotiated plea, or an acquittal.

According to the US Justice Department, federal law defines drug paraphernalia as “any equipment, product or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”

Examples include:

  • Roach clips
  • Bongs
  • Miniature spoons
  • Assorted types of pipes made of “metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic”
  • Cigarette papers
  • Needles
  • Small baggies
  • Scales

It can be confusing to identify what drug paraphernalia looks like. This is because many of the products that qualify as drug paraphernalia also have legitimate purposes. For example, “marijuana pipes and bongs frequently carry a misleading disclaimer indicating that they are intended to be used only with tobacco products.” As such, simply possessing a “bong” or a set of small scales may not be enough to lead to an arrest. If the products have traces of illegal or controlled substances on them, or if they are found with other types of paraphernalia (such as a small spoon, a set of scales, and a number of small baggies all together), then law enforcement officials will likely arrest you for possessing paraphernalia, even though each of these products has a legal use.

According to the US Justice Department, the makers of drug paraphernalia often try to glamorize the products so they appeal to teenagers and to young adults. Some of the marketing methods to make the products appeal includes “bright, trendy colors and bear designs such as skulls, devils, dragons, and wizards.”

Buyers can usually purchase drug paraphernalia through online Internet purchases and through mail-order businesses. These products are also commonly sold at tobacco stores, gas stations, convenience stores, and novelty stores.

U.S. Code Title 21 Section 863 makes it: “unlawful for any person to sell or offer for sale drug paraphernalia; to use the mails or any other facility of interstate commerce to transport drug paraphernalia; or to import or export drug paraphernalia.” Under federal law, anyone convicted of a Section 863 offense can be sentenced up to three years.

In Tennessee, possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor. The sentence for conviction can be up to 11 months and 29 days. If the offense includes the intent to deliver the drug paraphernalia or there are related offenses, the accused may be charged with a Class E felony.

At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our experienced Sevierville criminal drug offense lawyers fight to suppress any evidence of drug paraphernalia on the grounds it was improperly seized. We assert all other applicable defenses such as a legitimate reason for possessing the products, contesting the prosecution’s ability to show the items didn’t belong to someone else, or other factual defenses. We work to negotiate plea agreements and to obtain court acquittals. Our criminal defense lawyers fight for defendants in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding Tennessee locations. To discuss you rights and your defenses, call us at 865-280-3686 or fill out our contact form to review your case.