Arizona Drug Paraphernalia Possession Attorney (ARS 13-3415)


Possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime in Arizona. It’s illegal to have an object in your possession that allows you to plant, prepare, or use illegal drugs. Generally speaking, any item or instrument commonly associated with illegal substance use may be considered paraphernalia if it’s been used for that purpose, according to state law. 

Possession of such an object may result in a misdemeanor or felony charge on your record, along with fines and possibly even time in jail or prison. If you’ve been accused of drug paraphernalia possession, it’s imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

What to Keep in Mind about Drug Paraphernalia Charges

  • Possessing any object that’s commonly used to prepare or use drugs can result in a paraphernalia possession charge
  • Items such as pipes, joint clips, spoons used for heroin or crack, and even aluminum foil can count as drug paraphernalia 
  • You may receive either a felony or misdemeanor charge for this crime, and it’s often charged in addition to drug possession
  • Having a drug crime on your record can hurt your opportunities in the future, so seeking legal advice is best if you’re facing such a charge 

It’s not illegal to simply possess drug paraphernalia. If, however, you’re caught with this type of item and it’s tested at a crime lab and found to have traces of illegal substances, you may receive criminal charges. As stated, possession of drug paraphernalia is often given in addition to a substance possession charge, such as possession of a dangerous drug or marijuana possession.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Paraphernalia Crimes 

If your paraphernalia offense goes through the county legal system, you’ll likely receive a class 6 felony charge. If it goes through the municipal court, you may receive a misdemeanor charge on your record instead. Misdemeanor charges are less severe than felonies, but whether you receive a misdemeanor or felony, the conviction will stay on record unless you take certain actions to get it set aside. 

Drug Diversion

Throughout Arizona jurisdictions, drug offenders are offered drug diversion programs. TASC (the Arizona Treatment Assessment Screening Center) is a program used to monitor drug use in its participants and typically lasts between three and six months. The non-profit organization provides specialized services including substance abuse support, counseling, education about drugs, and drug screening. 

If a substance offender qualifies for a diversion program, they might get their charged dismissed after completing the program successfully. Failing to pass the program, on the other hand, could lead to increased penalties. 

Penalties for Paraphernalia Possession 

Proposition 200 in Arizona prohibits incarceration for both first and second-time substance offenders for non-violent crimes. They might still get other penalties, such as probation or fines, but should be able to avoid incarceration. 

However, if your charge involves other criminal offenses or aggravating factors, or involves violence, you might end up serving time in jail or prison. If you aren’t covered by the Prop 200 restrictions, you may be facing up to a year in prison for your first felony, or even longer if you have multiple convictions. 

Possible Defenses to Paraphernalia Possession

When it comes to drug paraphernalia crimes, the state is responsible for proving that you had such an item in your possession. An experienced criminal defense attorney can look over the elements of your case and use their knowledge to build you an applicable defense. 

Common defenses for paraphernalia possession include that you were unaware that the item was used for ingesting drugs, that someone left the object in your car unbeknownst to you, or that you didn’t realize the item was present. In other cases, an object may have been misidentified as drug paraphernalia when it was actually used for a valid medical prescription or similar purpose. 

FAQ On Drug Paraphernalia Crimes in Arizona 

Here are some of the most common questions regarding drug paraphernalia charges in Arizona: 

Q: What specific items count as drug paraphernalia? 

Some items which are typically included in the definition of drug paraphernalia are plastic, stone, wood, ceramic, and glass pipes, joint clips, water pipes and bongs, and small spoons used for crack or cocaine.

Q: Where do people usually purchase their paraphernalia?

Many paraphernalia objects are found through online vendors, in convenience stores, or in shops specifically set up to sell such items. Drug paraphernalia, such as pipes, will typically have a label that says, “for tobacco use only” (or something similar) to avoid breaking any laws.

Q: Which other items can count as drug paraphernalia? 

There are many other objects that aren’t intended for substance use which can also count as drug paraphernalia if they are used in that way. Items such as syringes, regular spoons, scales, lighters, foil, razor blades, tubes, and credit cards may lead to a paraphernalia possession charge if they are found to have been used for illicit drug use. 

Other objects used to manufacture, package, product, or grow illegal substances can also qualify as drug paraphernalia and land you with a possession charge.

Q: When is it legal to possess hypodermic needles or syringes?

You’re legally allowed to possess these items when, before your arrest, a licensed physician gave you authorization or a valid prescription for them. You also may have a maximum of 10 needles or syringes and possess them only for personal use. 

Getting the Best Defense for Paraphernalia Charges in AZ

If you’ve been accused of drug paraphernalia possession, it’s essential that you speak with a criminal defense attorney. This crime is often charged along with other offenses, which can make the consequences more severe. If you have prior charges on your record, you might be looking at serious penalties that will significantly harm your future opportunities in life. With substance convictions, it can be harder to find a job or a place to live.

Speaking with a legal professional can help as they may be able to get your charges reduced and penalties lowered. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the better your chances are of securing a favorable outcome and protecting your future. 

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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