Virginia Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, if you are in possession of certain drug paraphernalia, you can be convicted of a crime. This can have a devastating effect on your career, your family, your criminal record, and your future. A Virginia criminal lawyer can help you navigate the often complex landscape concerning drugs and the law. A Virginia drug paraphernalia lawyer knows the legal system and can advocate on your behalf. You can read more about other Virginia drug offenses here.
Definition of Drug Paraphernalia in Virginia
The definition of drug paraphernalia under Virginia law includes a “hypodermic syringe, needle or other instrument or implement or combination thereof” intended for administering an illegal substance by hypodermic injection (Section 54.1-3466). In addition, the possession of such a device must be under circumstances reasonably indicating the intent to use it to administer an illegal drug. This expands the definition of paraphernalia to include such items as gelatin capsules, glassine envelopes, or other materials commonly associated with illegal drug use. If such a device is found in your possession and the Commonwealth can deduce no lawful purpose other than the purpose of administering controlled drugs, you may be convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
As you can see by reading the statute, the drug paraphernalia law in Virginia is both broad and narrowly at the same time, and deciphering it to apply it to the facts of your case takes an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Like all Class 1 misdemeanors, the potential punishment is up to twelve (12) months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500 (Section 18.2-11). The law also defines “possession” as the paraphernalia being in your dominion or control. You also have to have knowledge of the existence of the alleged paraphernalia. While the drug paraphernalia may not have been found on your person, it still may be considered in your possession, for example, if it is found in your bathroom, vehicle, or book bag. The former is known as “actual possession” while the latter is a rough outline of a doctrine called “constructive possession.” An experienced drug paraphernalia defense lawyer understands these doctrines and the applicable case law and can apply that knowledge to assist you. Possession is an element of the offense and it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the facts of your unique case, certain defenses may arise and a Virginia criminal defense lawyer can work for you to find them.
Controlled drugs in Virginia mean substances like:
- LSD, heroin, and ecstasy (which have no recognized medical use)
- Addictive drugs like cocaine, morphine, and methamphetamine
- Pharmaceuticals like Vicodin and steroids
- Cold medications that contain codeine
- Marijuana and its derivatives, such as hashish.
However, despite a narrow definition of “paraphernalia,” Virginia law also includes certain equipment in its definition of paraphernalia if you intend to manufacture and distribute illegal drugs. These include “gelatin capsules, glassine envelopes or any other container” (Virginia Code Section 54.1-3466) for packaging individual doses in sufficient quantity with the intent to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance. If the court finds that you intended to manufacture and distribute drugs using these materials, you face a potential conviction.
More Definitions of Paraphernalia
Paraphernalia is also defined as any “adulterant” used in illegally manufacturing drugs—for example, a substance used to dilute or mix certain drugs. These substances include procaine hydrochloride, lactose, quinine, and mannitol. If the court finds you intended to use these ingredients to manufacture and distribute drugs, you face a potential conviction.
Paraphernalia includes other equipment that, if found in your possession for the intent purpose of manufacturing and distributing controlled substances, you may be convicted of a crime. This equipment can be measuring spoons, scales, strainers, sieves, staples and staplers, and other tools used or intended to be used in the production and distribution of illegal drugs.
Use of the Law
A conviction for possession or manufacturing of drug paraphernalia in Virginia is one of the few drug charges that does not include an automatic six-month driver’s license suspension. Because of this, your Virginia drug paraphernalia attorney may use the law as part of a plea bargain for you to avoid having your license suspended for six months in the event you are exposed to more serious charges. Every case is unique and every potential plea negotiation is unique, so be sure to discuss the Virginia drug paraphernalia laws if you face potential prosecution under that code section or any other drug charges.
The law is complicated and can be confusing but your personal Virginia drug attorney knows the law and can help you understand your options. Consult your Virginia drug paraphernalia attorney for any questions you may have concerning your arrest for these offenses. Call our firm for a free consultation.