Like many other states, California has laws that make it illegal to possess any device for the purpose of illegal drug use. Because so many household items, including pipes, can be used to smoke, inject or otherwise take drugs, the law doesn’t define what items will be classified as paraphernalia – it is instead defined by use.
Whether you can be arrested for having a pipe on you depends on several factors. Things such as the circumstances under which it was found, what was found with it, and what kind of condition you were in when it was found all come into play. It’s not to say any one of those factors is grounds for a paraphernalia conviction, but they certainly become part of the decision to charge you. For example, if you just left a cigar and tobacco bar and have a pipe on you or in your car; chances are better that you can talk your way out of a paraphernalia arrest if you are pulled over; however, if your eyes are red, you are in an area known for drug deals and there is an odor of marijuana coming from the car, you can pretty much count on getting charged possession of paraphernalia if a pipe is found on you. If the officer discovers drugs in your possession along with the pipe, it is generally a given that you will also be charged with possession of paraphernalia along with drug possession.
Whether you are arrested and taken to jail, or given a misdemeanor citation to appear in court at a later date, the goal becomes trying to avoid a conviction. There are several scenarios that can help you do this. For example, if you can show that it wasn’t yours. If you borrowed your friend’s car and the pipe was found in the glove box it becomes a constructive possession case which is harder for the state to prove than an actual possession case. If however, the pipe is found in your pocket, purse, or jacket it will be very difficult to claim it was not yours. If you borrowed a friend’s jacket, and had no idea the pipe was in the pocket, it could help your defense. There is also the possibility that the search and seizure of the pipe was done outside the confines of the law. Basically, to get a conviction, the state has to prove you knew the pipe existed and you knew its purpose was for smoking illegal drugs. Because of the many scenarios and possibilities when it comes to this charge, an attorney experienced in defending paraphernalia charges should advise you on your case.
A conviction for paraphernalia possession carries a maximum of six months jail time and a $1,000 fine. Sometimes, defendants are allowed to go into a drug diversion program instead of go to jail. Once you complete that program, the judge typically dismisses the charge. Another sentencing possibility is probation.
If you have been arrested for possession of paraphernalia in San Diego contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your legal options.