Nashville Criminal Attorneys Explain: What is Drug Paraphernalia?

Its a common question for criminal attorneys from clients facing a possession of drug paraphernalia charge how officers can determine what is and what isn’t drug paraphernalia. A pipe is often used as an example which could legitimately be used to smoke tobacco just as well as marijuana or crack cocaine. Tennessee law provides some degree of discretion to the courts when determining whether a device is drug paraphernalia or lawfully possessed.

Tennessee law instructs the court as to the evidence which it should consider when determining the answer. The following is considered:

1. Statements by the owner or anyone in control of the object concerning its use;

2. Prior convictions, if any, of the owner or of anyone in control of the object for violation of any state or federal law relating to controlled substances;

3. The existence of any residue of controlled substances on the object;

4. Instructions, oral or written, provided with the object concerning its use;

5. Descriptive materials accompanying the object that explain or depict its use;

6. The manner in which the object is displayed for sale;

7. The existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community; and

8. Expert testimony concerning its use.

What is the punishment for possession of drug paraphernalia in Tennessee?

The possession of drug paraphernalia can be either a Class A Misdemeanor or a Class E Felony in Tennessee, depending in the circumstances. For example, the sale of drug paraphernalia to a person under 18 by a person over 18 is a Class E Felony. Possession of drug paraphernalia in conjunction with the intent to sell a controlled substance is also a Class E Felony. Simply possessing drug paraphernalia it and of itself with no other factors is typically a Class A misdemeanor.

If you’ve been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in Nashville or a surrounding county, contact a Nashville criminal attorney immediately to discuss the criminal charges. Our Nashville criminal attorneys include a former Nashville prosecutor and offer free consultations and case evaluations.

Tennessee Law on drug paraphernalia:

Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-425. Unlawful drug paraphernalia uses and activities.

(a)  (1)  Except when used or possessed with the intent to use by a person authorized by this part and title 53, chapter 11, parts 3 and 4 to dispense, prescribe, manufacture or possess a controlled substance, it is unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia 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 in violation of this part.

(2)  Any person who violates this subsection (a) commits a Class A misdemeanor.

(b)  (1)  Except when delivered, possessed with the intent to deliver, or manufactured with the intent to deliver by a person authorized by this part and title 53, chapter 11, parts 3 and 4 to dispense, prescribe, manufacture or possess a controlled substance, it is unlawful for any person to deliver, possess with intent to deliver, or manufacture with intent to deliver, drug paraphernalia, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that it will be 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 in violation of this part.

(2)  Any person who violates subdivision (b)(1) commits a Class E felony.

(3)  Except when delivered by a person authorized by this part and title 53, chapter 11, parts 3 and 4 to dispense, prescribe, manufacture or possess a controlled substance, any person eighteen (18) years of age or over who violates this subsection (b) by delivering drug paraphernalia to a person under eighteen (18) years of age who is at least three (3) years younger than that person commits a Class E felony.

(c)  (1)  It is unlawful for any person to place in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publication, any advertisement, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that the purpose of the advertisement, in whole or in part, is to promote the sale of objects designed or intended for use as drug paraphernalia.

(2)  Any person who violates the provisions of subdivision (c)(1) commits a Class A misdemeanor.

 

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