Possession of drug paraphernalia in Ohio does not always mean that drugs were involved. While drug possession charges often accompany drug paraphernalia charges, these offenses are mutually exclusive (i.e., drug paraphernalia charges can result even when no drugs are found).
Possession of drug paraphernalia is defined pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 2925.14 as possessing equipment, products or any kind or material that is designed with the purpose or intent of using illegal substances. Drug paraphernalia encompasses any kind of material that is involved in cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, producing, packaging, storing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, etc.
Common examples of drug paraphernalia include bongs, water pipes, marijuana cultivation or growing equipment, measuring scales, syringes or needles, separation or sifting devices, containers, and plastic baggies.
Penalties for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Ohio
Possession of drug paraphernalia in Ohio is classified as a 4th degree misdemeanor, which carries a potential 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. Selling drug paraphernalia to an adult is a 2nd degree misdemeanor, which entails up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. However, selling drug paraphernalia to a minor is a 1st degree misdemeanor, which mandates 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine.
Ohio Revised Code 2925.141 specifically deals with marijuana drug paraphernalia. If you are found in possession of drug paraphernalia related to marijuana (i.e., bongs, water pipes, etc.), you will be charged with a minor misdemeanor. This offense only carries a $150 fine and no jail time.
In addition to jail time and fines, almost all drug convictions in Ohio carry a mandatory 6 months to multiple year driver’s license suspension. Moreover, offenders face difficulty securing employment, financial aid for college and professional licenses with a drug conviction on their record.
Drug Paraphernalia v. Drug Abuse Instruments
Ohio Revised Code 2925.12 states that it is illegal to make, possess, obtain or use drug abuse instruments. This statute specifically applies to any hypodermic needle or syringe that has the primary purpose of allowing the user to administer a dangerous drug, and that has been used to inject an illegal drug. Those charged under this statute face a 2nd degree misdemeanor.
What makes things confusing is that the drug paraphernalia statute (ORC 2925.14) also includes hypodermic needles and syringes. While it seems duplicative, the drug abuse instrument statute is primarily used for those possessing needles and syringes, while the drug paraphernalia statute is applied more broadly for other items associated with drug use.
Defenses to Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Ohio
Several defenses exist for those accused of possessing drug paraphernalia in Ohio. First, many people are charged with drug paraphernalia as a result of being pulled over by the police while driving. However, before the police can stop your vehicle, they must have reasonable suspicion that you committed a criminal or traffic violation. If the police lacked reasonable suspicion, any evidence gained will be inadmissible.
A second prominent defense is unreasonable search and seizure. This often occurs when the police stop and ask questions of people. For example, the police may ask you for identification. After cooperating, the officer may think you look “nervous” or his “cop radar” may tell him that something is wrong, resulting in the officer conducting a search or your person. Since nothing is present suggesting that you have violated or were about to violate the law, the search would be unconstitutional.
Finally, law enforcement is required to obtain a search warrant before they are permitted to search your person, house, car, etc., unless an exception applies (i.e., hot pursuit, exigent circumstances, plain view, etc.). If an exception does not apply, and the police conduct a search absent a warrant, the search may violate your constitutional rights.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your criminal offense case.