Tennessee law outlines various rules prohibiting the use, possession, production, and sale of controlled substances. In addition to criminalizing the drug itself, the law prohibits individuals from possessing any material that they used, or intended to use, with a controlled substance. These materials are considered drug paraphernalia.
What Is Drug Paraphernalia?
Tennessee defines drug paraphernalia as any equipment or material that is used to grow, make, or use a controlled substance.
Even if an object as it exists for its original purpose is legal, if an individual uses it to make or use drugs, it can be considered drug paraphernalia and result in a criminal charge. Commonly misused items that could result in a conviction include:
- Kitchen scales
- Pill crushers
- Plastic bags
- Rolling papers
- Tobacco pipes
It is not the material itself that is important, but rather the way that an individual uses it. When determining whether an object is an innocent household item or a criminal drug tool, prosecutors will look for any evidence of apparent drug use. This could be evaluated through residue of an illegal substance, burn marks on the object in question, and more.
Penalties for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia
Personal possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor in Tennessee. As such, it carries penalties such as:
- A fine of up to $2,500
- A jail sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days
- Court costs
The maximum fine for a drug paraphernalia offense is $2,500 regardless of if the individual had a prior conviction. The minimum fine, however, does change based on whether an individual had a prior offense. The minimum fine one could face is:
- At least $150 for a first conviction
- At least $250 for a subsequent conviction
If an individual possessed drug paraphernalia with the intent to deliver or sell controlled substances, however, the offense becomes a Class E felony. As such, the guilty party could face:
- A fine of up to $50,000
- A prison sentence of up to two years
Individuals who are found guilty of possessing drug paraphernalia will face consequences beyond the legal penalties. These charges typically leave a permanent mark on the offender’s public record. Guilty parties could face:
- Difficulty finding a job
- Jeopardized professional licenses
- Loss of scholarships
The potential consequences of a drug paraphernalia conviction are too great to risk going unrepresented in your case. If you or a loved one have been arrested for a drug paraphernalia charge, contact Eldridge & Blakney, PC for aggressive defense.