Although you (like most adults) is most likely aware that being caught in possession of an illegal drug such as cocaine, heroin or marijuana can result in serious legal troubles, you may not be aware you can be prosecuted for possession of items related to those drugs—even when no actual drugs are found.
Drug paraphernalia crimes in the state of Mississippi are described in the 2013 Mississippi Code, Title 41, Chapter 29. Under this code, it is unlawful for any person to “deliver, sell, possess with intent to deliver or sell, or manufacture with intent to deliver or sell, paraphernalia…”
Paraphernalia is defined as anything used to “plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance…” This definition can either seem all-encompassing, or fairly vague, depending on how it is viewed.
Generally speaking drug paraphernalia is divided into items used to ingest drugs, and items used to distribute drugs. This is an important distinction, since many ordinary household items may be used in consumption or distribution of illegal drugs. It is generally up to law enforcement to determine the context of the item’s use in the community. Some of the more common items considered drug paraphernalia include:
- Glass pipes;
- Wood pipes;
- Plastic pipes;
- Ceramic pipes;
- Water pipes;
- Roach clips;
- Chillums (long hollow pipes made of clay);
- Miniature spoons (commonly used to snort cocaine);
- Chemicals used to dilute illegal drugs;
- Syringes, or
- Needles used to inject illegal drugs.
Violation of Mississippi Drug Paraphernalia Laws
A violation of Mississippi drug paraphernalia laws can result in misdemeanor charges being filed. In the event of a conviction, you could face no more than six months in the county jail, and/or could face a fine up to $500. A federal conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia could result in up to three years in prison. The penalties for violating Mississippi’s drug paraphernalia laws are even greater than those for possession of marijuana. (Marijuana possession of 30 grams or less by a first-time offender brings a fine of up to $250).
Mississippi law states that possession of drug paraphernalia, in conjunction of one ounce of marijuana or less, prohibits charges of drug paraphernalia, meaning you would only be charged with violating drug paraphernalia laws if you were not in possession of actual drugs. If this is your first offense in the state of Mississippi, a drug paraphernalia charge can be taken care of in a way that it will not show up on your permanent criminal record (which could prohibit you from obtaining employment). Even if your attorney is able to arrange this, remember you could still be placed on probation for six months, pay court costs, and may even be required to take random drug tests during your probation.
Issues Which Could Lead to Drug Paraphernalia Charges
Depending on whether your charges are brought under federal law or under Mississippi state law, the actions which could potentially lead to drug paraphernalia charges may vary. Federal law prohibits:
- The sale (or offer to sell) of any type of drug paraphernalia;
- The importing or exporting of any type of drug paraphernalia, and
- Mailing or transporting through interstate commerce any type of drug paraphernalia.
Context in Mississippi Drug Paraphernalia Charges
As mentioned above, context can be everything in a Mississippi drug paraphernalia charges, since many items used in the ingestion or distribution of illegal drugs are also common household items. Context could include drug residue found on an item which might not otherwise be considered drug paraphernalia. As an example, pipes, hookahs and bongs can be used for smoking tobacco, which is entirely legal, or can be used to smoke illegal drugs. Therefore, the context in this case would be illegal drug residue found on one of those items.
Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the state of Mississippi, it is important that you immediately contact an experienced Mississippi drug attorney who will defend your rights. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.