Many people make the common mistake of assuming that the crimes they can be charged with are limited to the illegal contraband they carry, like cocaine or heroin. However, the police may also arrest you for possessing certain items that are associated with the use or production of drugs. These crimes are called drug paraphernalia offenses. It is also important to note that drugs do not necessarily have to be present for you to be charged with a drug paraphernalia crime.
Drug paraphernalia can be any common household item like a scale, plastic baggies or a teaspoon. It can also be less common items like syringes or Bunsen burners. The problem with outlawing drug paraphernalia is that the law must be deliberately vague to allow the police the flexibility to sort out the illegal items. This puts an enormous amount of power in the hands of the police.
The police should rely on the context of the arrest and seizure of items to determine if a particular thing is illegal or not. In a generalized overview of the law, paraphernalia is illegal if it is either connected to the sale or attempt to sell drugs or paraphernalia, or used to import or export drugs or paraphernalia across a state and foreign borders.
If you are in one of these situations, then the police will likely rely on the context of the arrest to tack on drug paraphernalia charges.
If you were recently arrested or fear imminent arrest on drug charges, then you may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney. Drug paraphernalia laws, because they are more vague, offer opportunities to challenge the premise of the charges. However, because they are so vague, that also means that innocuous household items can quickly add up against you as additional charges. These crimes are just as serious as their illegal drug counterparts; do not make the mistake of taking them lightly.