Criminal charges for possession of drug paraphernalia in Utah are typically filed at the misdemeanor level. Any criminal charge should be taken seriously, and the assistance of an experienced defense attorney can be key in achieving the outcome you need in your case.
The following information is not a substitute for competent legal advice. Please contact us directly to see how our experienced criminal defense legal team can help you.
Penalties for a Paraphernalia Conviction in Davis County
Davis County Utah Salt LakeA criminal conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia at the class B misdemeanor level carries potential penalties of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 plus a 90% surcharge and security fees (making a total potential financial penalty of nearly $2,000). A judge is not required to sentence a defendant to the maximum penalty, but many judges will order the maximum jail and fines and then suspend some part or all of the jail or fines conditioned on the successful completion of probation.
Conditions of probation (if granted) will frequently include a substance abuse evaluation and completion of any recommended treatment, drug testing, community service, good behavior (no further criminal charges), and any other conditions or terms that the court may find to be appropriate under the specific circumstances of the case. A court may impose supervised probation through either a government probation agency or a private probation provider, or the court may place the defendant on court-supervised probation (sometimes referred to as “good behavior” probation or “unsupervised” probation).
A charge of possession of drug paraphernalia can sometimes result in a negotiated abeyance agreement. When a plea is held in abeyance, the plea typically is not entered as a conviction but is instead held by the court and later dismissed if the conditions of the abeyance agreement are met.
Understanding the options that are available in defending against a drug paraphernalia prosecution is vital in making a complete assessment of which options may be best-suited to a specific case and a specific defendant’s circumstances. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is a critical part of that process.
Definition of Paraphernalia under Utah Law
The term “drug paraphernalia” is broadly defined under Utah law and can include a variety of items – some of which are commonly recognized as drug paraphernalia and some of which are ordinary items which become paraphernalia only if the defendant has a particular intent or state of mind. In some circumstances, an object that would often be treated as an item of drug paraphernalia may not meet the Utah statutory definition of drug paraphernalia based on the defendant’s intent or state of mind.
Utah Code section 58-37a-3, “drug paraphernalia” is defined as including “any equipment, product, or material used, or intended for use, to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, package, repackage, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or to otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body” in violation of the Utah Controlled Substances Act.
Common Charges Accompanying Drug Paraphernalia Prosecutions
It is rare that a drug paraphernalia charge will be filed in isolation. Because an item must have an intended use that relates to illegal drugs in some way before the item will be considered drug paraphernalia, the crime of unlawful drug possession (unlawful possession of a controlled substance) is the most common charge seen alongside a charge for possession of drug paraphernalia. If minors (children under the age of 18) are present where drugs are possessed, the level of a drug possession charge may be enhanced. If children or “vulnerable” adults (as defined by statute) are “exposed” to drugs, the person responsible for such exposure can face felony charges for endangerment of a child or vulnerable adult.