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Could that item in your pocket get you arrested?

Sometimes it doesn't take being in possession of drugs to get you arrested. People in Kentucky get arrested every day for simply having items on their person (or in their car or home) that are considered to be drug paraphernalia.

But what exactly is paraphernalia, and how can you defend yourself against those type of charges? While the above link to the Kentucky Revised Statute on drug paraphernalia gives extremely detailed information on the subject, for our purposes here, it is sufficient to state that paraphernalia is any accoutrement, item or substance that is used to facilitate illegal drug usage, cultivation or sales.

It is possible to present a defense to the charges if the arrested person is able to convince the court that the alleged drug paraphernalia actually had a legitimate purpose for its use.

For instance, hand-held or digital scales commonly used to weigh units of drugs can also be used to accurately determine the correct postage for letters and packages or to weigh food items for those following special diets. Tiny zip-close bags can be used to store jewelry or beading for crafters. A hookah pipe can be used legally to smoke only tobacco. Even those tiny spoons often associated with snorting cocaine can have legitimate uses within the right context, e.g., a chef may need one to add a few dashes of strong spices to a recipe.

If you get arrested on drug paraphernalia charges, which are misdemeanors, a lab will analyze the items to determine if there are any illegal substances present on them. If not, it's quite likely that charges will be dropped or not accepted by the prosecutor.

There is one potential way to avoid being charged for certain types of paraphernalia — hypodermic needles. A police officer may ask whether the detained individual has any needles or sharp objects in his possession that could injure or infect the officer during a search. If that person admits to possessing such an item, he or she cannot be arrested for its possession. But if the search reveals other, non-sharp paraphernalia, the individual can still face charges for those items.

Your criminal defense attorney can offer advice on how best to dispute the paraphernalia charge(s) lodged against you.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Paraphernalia Charges," accessed Jan. 12, 2018

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  • Kentucky Justice Association
  • Kentucky Bar Association 1871 Lex Ordo Justicia
  • United States District Court Western District Of Kentucky
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