Is Drug Paraphernalia Illegal in Virginia?
Simply possessing most drug paraphernalia in Virginia by it self is not a crime but hundreds of people get ticketed, arrested and convicted because they are caught with drug paraphernalia. Here is why:
Possession of drug paraphernalia such as bongs, pipes, grinders, wrapping papers, baggies, hookas, spoons or roach clips is not illegal in Virginia. However, if those items have been used with illegal drugs then there is probably some drug residue on the paraphernalia. If the police are able to successfully test that residue then you can be charged with possession of that drug.
For example: If a driver is stopped and caught with an empty marijuana pipe and the police shove a swab into the bowl and test the bowl they will likely get a a positive hit for marijuana even if the pipe is fairly clean. The driver will them be charged with possession of marijuana. There is not minimum quantities for possession of drugs in Virginia. If the police can test the drugs they can convicted you for possession of drugs regardless of the actual amount.
In addition there are also several laws that govern drug paraphernalia: Va. Code 54.1-3466 makes it illegal to possess syringes and equipment for making pills or capsules for distribution of controlled drugs but not the type of drug paraphernalia associated with street drugs.
Va. Code 18.2-265.3 makes it illegal to sell or possess with intentions to sell drug paraphernalia such as bongs, grinders, roach clips ect. In this statute, street drug paraphernalia are covered but the government must prove two things: 1) that the drug paraphernalia was intended for use with illegal or prescription drugs and 2) that the defendant was selling or intending to sell the paraphernalia.
Va. Code 18.2-265.5 and Va. Code 18.2-255.1 make it illegal to advertise for sale drug paraphernalia. Va. Code 265.5 governs advertising to anyone. Va. Code 18.2-255.1 makes it illegal to advertise to minors. Both of these crimes come with a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and $2,500 fines.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
The only items that count as drug paraphernalia under Va. Code 54.1-3466 are syringes and items used for injecting drugs. Scales, grinders, bongs, etc. are not paraphernalia under Virginia law.
However, this statute is often used by defense attorneys as a substitute for many other drug crimes. This charge is a popular plea deal because it won’t result in a license suspension. People who need to drive may prefer a conviction for paraphernalia rather than a conviction of any of the other drug crimes.
A prosecutor and defense attorney can agree to amend a drug charge to possession of paraphernalia even if the defendant did not possess any syringes, but only if both the defense attorney and the prosecution agree.
Call Nichols & Green pllc is you are charged with possession of drug paraphernalia or if you are charged with any drug crime in Virginia. (703) 383-9222
At Nichols & Green pllc we wrote the book on defending drug paraphernalia charges and other drug crimes. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Green have defended hundreds of people accused of crimes in Northern Virginia and they defend a lot of drug crimes. Call today (703) 383-9222 to get a free consultation from our lawyers.