Drug Paraphernalia..Do they have to prove it was to be used with drugs?

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer
West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

Under Pennsylvania law, there is a statute that prohibits possessing anything for:

 

“The use of, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this act.”

 

It may seem like a statute that encompasses a lot of circumstances and items – and it does. Still, what must be understood is that while many different items may seemingly “fit” under the statutes verbiage – the Commonwealth still has the burden to prove that the alleged drug paraphernalia was exactly that – drug paraphernalia.

 

How do they do that and what does it really mean? There is case law that states the Commonwealth must prove a specific intent that the item possessed or delivered was to be used with controlled substances.

 

Now, what does this mean – practically speaking?

 

The Commonwealth must provide more than the item itself. They must prove that there was the intent to use the item with/for/etc. a controlled substance. Further, a skilled criminal defense attorney should cross-examine the Commonwealth witnesses and potentially point out legal uses for the items claimed to be drug paraphernalia.

 

While there are many cases where there is other circumstantial or corroborative evidence that the item claimed to be drug paraphernalia was in fact just that – the law must be understood, and a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney will be aware of what the law requires and make sure the Commonwealth is made to meet its burden fully and completely.

 

Small Amount of Marijuana in Philadelphia

Possessing Small Amount of Marijuana now only a fine in Philadelphia

chester county criminal lawyer
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today

New legislation in Philadelphia has gone into effect today minimizing the penalties of being caught with a small amount of marijuana.   The goal behind the legislation is aimed at easing the punishment of offenders of this kind while also lowering the burden police officers and prosecutors have experienced in aggressively enforcing the crimes code when it comes to small amount of marijuana charges.

An offender who is found in possession of a small amount of marijuana will now face a minimal fine and one who is found using marijuana will be subject to a slightly higher, yet still minimal fine.   Once the identification of the individual is ascertained, by showing ID, the interaction between police and an accused is supposed to stop. Still, if no valid ID is found on the person, they can be held until their identity is determined and then must be released.  This new bill does not legalize marijuana, but instead decriminalizes certain levels of possession and use and minimalizes what law enforcement officers may do when faced with those circumstances.

This legislation is bound to raise questions in enforcement, prosecution and defense of cases that either involve a small amount of marijuana and/or cases that begin with marijuana as the inception of the contact between an individual and a police officer.

For one, many cases start with police officers locating a small amount of marijuana and using that as reasonable suspicion or probable cause to further investigate and detain an individual. This new bill may raise many challenges to the search and seizure of individuals in the coming months, causing the Courts in the county to interpret whether officers may still use this/these circumstances as reasonable suspicion or probable cause to further detain and search.

 It is too early to determine the true impact this change will have on the implementation of the laws in Philadelphia County. Still, it is something that criminal defense lawyers and law enforcement must be aware of when prosecuting or defending a case that involves a small amount of marijuana.

Contact Mike DiCindio today to discuss your case today.

***This blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used, nor is it meant to be, as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. This blog also does not discuss all aspects of the topics involved or the bill that has been placed into effect***