Drug charges are often associated with possessing controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin, meth, fentanyl and illegal prescriptions. But you can also face charges for possession of drug paraphernalia without actually possessing any illegal substances. Possession of drug paraphernalia can be a felony or misdemeanor in Illinois.
What counts as drug paraphernalia?
Illinois law defines drug paraphernalia broadly, to include a wide array of items used in the manufacture, ingestion, packaging, concealing and trafficking of controlled substances. Examples include:
- Manufacturing kits
- Small spoons
- Testing equipment
Many other items may also qualify as paraphernalia.
Why intent matters
Many of the items above, and many other items that could be treated as drug paraphernalia, could also be used for a legal purpose. It’s not illegal to simply possess a syringe, a small spoon, a vial or the like. Pipes and bongs can be legally used for tobacco and cannabis. What matters is the context and intent.
Generally speaking, for misdemeanor charges, you must have knowingly possessed the item for personal use of a controlled substance. More serious charges, which are felony offenses, involve possessing paraphernalia for commercial purposes, with the intent to sell controlled substances. To prove intent, prosecutors must often rely on circumstantial evidence such as the presence of actual drugs.
How to challenge paraphernalia charges
Often, paraphernalia charges are tacked onto charges for possession or trafficking. A good defense lawyer can help you address the charges in a strategic manner. For example, they may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to get the paraphernalia charges dropped. They can also identify and pursue any gaps in the prosecution’s evidence with regard to intent.
As with any drug charge, the important thing is to work with a skilled defense lawyer from the outset so that you have the best shot at the strongest possible defense.