Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in California

gloved hand holding covered syringes

In California, not only is it against the law to possess illegal drugs and medications that are not prescribed to you, but you can also face criminal charges to possess drug paraphernalia. This applies to any device or instrument used to smoke, inject, or otherwise consume a controlled substance.

Common types of drug paraphernalia include:

  • Needles or syringes
  • Crack or methamphetamine pipes
  • Cocaine spoons
  • Tin foil
  • Small mirrors
  • Straws or paper tubes
  • Razorblades or cards
  • Cocaine free base kits
  • Plastic baggies or any bag containing drugs

However, as of 2021, it is legal to possess hypodermic needles or syringes if they are only for personal use and they were obtained from a doctor, pharmacist, needle or syringe exchange program, or any other authorized source to provide sterile needles or syringes without a prescription. The purpose of this exception is to prevent transmission of HIV and other bloodborne diseases among those who use heroin and other injectable narcotics.

To be convicted of illegal possession of drug paraphernalia, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • You had control or constructive possession over drug paraphernalia
  • You were aware of the paraphernalia’s presence
  • You knew it was drug paraphernalia

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense, which carries a maximum jail sentence of six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, even an arrest could result in professional consequences for individuals who have professional licenses.

The following are other drug offenses related to illegal possession of drug paraphernalia:

  • Operating a business that stores, displays, or sells drug paraphernalia, which is punishable by the loss of a California business license or permit.
  • Possessing, furnishing, manufacturing, or transporting drug paraphernalia with knowledge that the paraphernalia is for illegal drug use or sales, which can be charged as either a misdemeanor (punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $1,000) or a felony (which carries a maximum three-year prison term and/or a fine of up to $10,000)
  • Being present while someone else is using a controlled substance, or aiding/abetting drug use, which is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum six-month jail sentence and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Santa Rosa, CA, call the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. at (707) 418-5352 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Our firm has successfully represented thousands of people facing a variety of criminal charges.

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