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Salt Lake Criminal Defense - Drug Paraphernalia

Possession of drug paraphernalia in Utah is typically filed as a class B misdemeanor.  But if you are convicted, you could be facing substantial jail time, fines, losing your driver's license, and more.  Salt Lake criminal attorney Stephen Howard has extensive experience representing clients in drug cases in Utah.  He has represented thousands of clients, with a track record that speaks for itself.  If you are being prosecuted for possession of drug paraphernalia or other criminal charges, call now to schedule an initial consultation and learn what an experienced Salt Lake criminal defense attorney can do for you.

Utah Law on Drug Paraphernlia

Under Utah criminal law, the definition of drug paraphernalia can include many items that have innocent and perfectly legitimate uses: spoons, plastic bags, pens, razor blades, aluminum foil, scales and many more items.  If a police officer believes that you intend to use one of these items to use, package, weigh, transport, or manufacture an illegal controlled substance (drug), you may be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

More frequently, prosecutors will file drug paraphernalia charges based on alleged possession of items that are commonly associated with drug use (such as syringes or pipes). But even in such cases, the prosecutor must still prove the intent to use those items in connection with illegal drugs.

The intent element of a drug paraphernalia charge is sometimes overlooked by prosecutors. This element requires proof that the defendant intended to use the item of paraphernalia in violation of the Utah Controlled Substance Act. To illustrate, consider a pill cutter or pill crusher that could be used to crush or cut opioid pills that were either legally obtained or illegally obtained. In a case where the intended or actual use of the pill crusher involved pills that were illegally obtained, the pill crusher or cutter would be considered unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. But if the facts of the case were altered to involve pills that had been lawfully prescribed to the defendant, possession of that same item of drug paraphernalia would not be illegal.

Potential Defense Options

Under the United States Constitution, you are entitled to a presumption of innocence and to require that the prosecution prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Understanding your rights is critical to developing the best defense strategy.

A syringe may be used by a diabetic to inject insulin.  A pipe may be used to smoke legal substances as well as illegal controlled substances. If the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial that you intended to use the item in connection with an illegal controlled substance, you are entitled to be found not guilty.

Constructive possession often presents a possible defense in drug possession and drug paraphernalia cases. If police search a defendant's car and find a pipe with methamphetamine residue, the pipe may or may not have ever been possessed by the defendant. Merely owning a vehicle does not make the owner responsible for every item of property that might end up in the vehicle. Unless the prosecutor can show actual direct possession by the defendant (for example, the defendant was holding the pipe in his hand when police approached), then the prosecutor must prove constructive possession by showing knowledge of the item and the ability and intent to exercise control over the item.

Contact an Attorney

If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia or other crimes in Salt Lake City, contact us for an initial consultation and case analysis with Utah criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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