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Utah Drug Paraphernalia Attorney in Salt Lake

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Utah

A Utah drug paraphernalia conviction can mean jail time, fines, and losing your driver's license. Stephen Howard is an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney based in Salt Lake City who represents clients facing drug paraphernalia and all criminal charges throughout the state. His extensive experience and knowledge of the legal system allow him to achieve real results for his clients. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential attorney consultation.

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What is Considered "Drug Paraphernalia" in Utah?

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia - Salt Lake Attorney UtahUtah's definition of "drug paraphernalia" is very broad. Pipes and syringes are some of the more obvious items. But things with innocent uses such as plastic bags, aluminum foil, and pens can suddenly become "drug paraphernalia" if a police officer believes that their intended use involves drugs.

There is nothing illegal in simply possessing a plastic baggy, foil, or even a syringe. Under the Constitutional protections guaranteed to all people charged with a crime, you are presumed innocent. The law places a burden on the prosecutor to convince a jury of your peers, beyond a reasonable doubt, of each and every element of the crime of possession of drug paraphernalia. That means proving more than just possession of the items, but also that the items intended use related to illegal drugs in some way.

Proving "Possession" in a Utah Drug Paraphernalia Case

Sometimes, police catch a person red handed - with drug paraphernalia in their hand, pocket, etc. But many Utah drug cases involve more subtle legal issues in what is referred to "constructive possession."

Constructive possession means that the item is not in your immediate possession (your hand, pocket, etc.), but rather that you have knowledge of the item and both the ability and the intent to exercise control over the item. In other words, if you are aware of the item, and you intend to do something with it, you are considered to be in constructive possession of the item.

Many constructive possession cases in Utah involve drugs or paraphernalia found in a car driven or owned by the defendant. Some defendants have reported being told by police that they are legally responsible for anything found in their car. This is not an accurate statement of Utah law. Simply because an item is found close to you (in the same car, the same room, etc.), you are not automatically considered to be in possession of that item.

Drug possession cases in Utah can also involve an "innocent possession" defense. The defense of innocent possession is relevant in cases where a person innocently discovers drugs, and takes possession of said drugs only briefly and only for the purpose of disposing of said drugs. The innocent possession defense will not normally be relevant to a charge of drug paraphernalia possession, because the intent element (mens rea requirement) of Utah's drug paraphernalia statute essentially negates the innocent possession defense.

Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia Possession in Utah

Most Utah drug paraphernalia charges are filed as class B misdemeanors (180 days jail maximum). But possession of drug paraphernalia can be charged as a class A misdemeanor (365 days jail maximum) if a drug free zone enhancement is found to apply. Delivering drug paraphernalia to another person can also be punished as a class A misdemeanor. In rare cases, a felony charge may be filed for delivery of drug paraphernalia to a minor.

Finding an Experienced Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake

Criminal Defense Attorney UtahBased in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has substantial experience defending Utah drug cases. He has also worked extensively in Utah's drug court system. He has successfully defended drug cases ranging from first-degree felony distribution crimes to misdemeanor paraphernalia charges.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and case analysis.


Full Text of Utah Code 58-37a-5 - Unlawful Acts (Drug Paraphernalia)

Following is the full text of Utah Code 58-37a-5, setting forth unlawful acts under the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act. This is the text of the statute as amended by the legislature in 2011. This statute may have been amended since published on this page. You are encouraged to consult with an experienced criminal attorney for advice specific to your circumstances. (Commentary and analysis are in italics.)

Subsection (1) establishes a mens rea requirement and provides a misdemeanor penalty for simple possession of drug paraphernalia.

(1) (a) It is unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body in violation of this chapter.
  (b) Any person who violates Subsection (1)(a) is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

Subsection (2) prohibits manufacturing, delivery, or possession with the intent to deliver paraphernalia. The potential penalties are substantially higher than the penalties for mere possession of drug paraphernalia.

(2) (a) It is unlawful for any person to deliver, possess with intent to deliver, or manufacture with intent to deliver, any drug paraphernalia, knowing that the drug paraphernalia will be used to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body in violation of this act.
  (b) Any person who violates Subsection (2)(a) is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

Subsection (3) creates a felony offense for delivering drug paraphernalia to a minor who is three years younger than the defendant.

(3) Any person 18 years of age or older who delivers drug paraphernalia to a person younger than 18 years of age and who is three years or more younger than the person making the delivery is guilty of a third degree felony.

Subsection (4) prohibits, as a misdemeanor offense, the advertising of drug paraphernalia for sale.

(4) (a) It is unlawful for any person to place in this state in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publication any advertisement, knowing that the purpose of the advertisement is to promote the sale of drug paraphernalia.
  (b) Any person who violates Subsection (4)(a) is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

Subsection (5) provides protection from prosecution the distribution of hypodermic syringes in sealed sterile packaging if the intended use is a legitimate medical purpose.

(5) (a) A person may not be charged with distribution of hypodermic syringes as drug paraphernalia if at the time of sale or distribution the syringes are in a sealed sterile package and are for a legitimate medical purpose, including:
    (i) injection of prescription medications as prescribed by a practitioner; or
    (ii) the prevention of disease transmission.
  (b) A person may not be charged with possession of hypodermic syringes as drug paraphernalia if the syringe is unused and is in a sealed sterile package.

Subsection (6) provides merely that a prosecution for possession paraphernalia can be in addition to prosecution for other violations of this chapter.

(6) A person may be charged and sentenced for a violation of this section, notwithstanding a charge and sentence for a violation of any other section of this chapter.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Drug Paraphernalia Charges

If you are facing prosecution for possession of drug paraphernalia or other criminal charges, the assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer can be vital. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. He has a track record that includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals in some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah.

Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

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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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