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Florida has strict drug laws regarding simple possession, delivery and trafficking, and is one of only a handful of states that considers it a felony to possess trace amounts of certain drugs. As such, it is no surprise that the laws regarding drug paraphernalia in Florida are harsh as well. If you have been charged with any offense related to drug paraphernalia you cannot afford to take the charges lightly. Even if the majority of defendants do not face jail time in paraphernalia cases, a permanent criminal conviction, fines and probation are all real possibilities if the case is not handled properly. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in drug paraphernalia cases. He has successfully defended hundreds of clients in courthouses around the state, and continues to fight for dismissals in all paraphernalia cases. Benjamin is available 7 days a week for a free consultation at (954) 543-0305, and has flexible office hours at his locations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. He has extensive experience in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, and also handles cases in Martin and St. Lucie County.
The use or possession of drug paraphernalia is an extremely common charge, and is often filed along with other drug charges such as possession or possession with intent to sell. Anyone found guilty of this first-degree misdemeanor offense faces up to one year in jail, fines and probation in addition to a potential permanent criminal conviction. Paraphernalia has a broad definition, and police have a great deal of authority to charge a person. Florida law defines paraphernalia as equipment, products and materials that are used in manufacturing, processing, preparing, testing, packaging, storing, concealing or using any type of controlled substance. Basically, any tangible item that is used in connection with a controlled substance can be classified as paraphernalia, and there are really no limits. Common items include pipes, syringes, grinders, scales, containers (including plastic baggies) and cutting agents. Even balloons can be considered paraphernalia in cases involving nitrous oxide. Cannabis growing equipment such as lights and hydroponic systems also qualify as paraphernalia. A drug paraphernalia charge can easily escalate into a drug possession charge if law enforcement tests the item and it comes back positive for a narcotic or other illegal substance.
Other misdemeanor charges include advertising drug paraphernalia and retail sale of certain drug paraphernalia. These charges are directed at shop vendors or online retailers, and a violation is typically a first-degree misdemeanor. While most paraphernalia cases in Florida are charged as misdemeanors, the law also provides a few felony-level charges. Manufacturing, possession with intent and delivery of drug paraphernalia are all considered third-degree felonies. These felony punishments include all types of paraphernalia such as pipes and marijuana growing equipment. If an adult defendant is accused of delivering paraphernalia to a minor under the age of 18 the charge becomes a second-degree felony with a 15-year maximum penalty.
Many defendants are surprised to learn that their Florida drug paraphernalia charges can have serious legal consequences, including a potential felony conviction, but an experienced lawyer can increase the odds your case is resolved with little or no impact on your life. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal lawyer who specializes in drug paraphernalia cases, and starts fighting for his clients the minute he is hired. In some cases, he can contact the state’s attorney and argue for a dismissal or a “no info” before charges are filed, and in others he can negotiate for some type of pre-trial diversion. There are also a variety of defenses such as the failure of the state to establish actual or constructive possession, or lack of sufficient evidence the object was used in connection with a controlled substance. Benjamin can go over your case in detail and point out which defenses may be available. He is available on nights and weekends to discuss the case, and provides his cell phone number to all clients for access during off hours.