Like most other states, Tennessee has some stiff penalties for those who possess controlled substances. Even though first-time offenders typically face misdemeanor charges, convictions may result in imprisonment.
Even if you do not have drugs with you at the time of your arrest, prosecutors may bring charges against you for possession of drug paraphernalia.
What is drug paraphernalia?
As outlined in a recent case, Tennessee v. Foster, Tennessee law has an expansive definition of “drug paraphernalia” Essentially, anything you can use to manufacture, cultivate, produce, distribute or consume a controlled substance probably meets the definition. Common drug paraphernalia includes the following:
- Marijuana rolling papers
- Grow lights
- Kitchen scales
- Pipes and bongs
What are the penalties for possessing drug paraphernalia?
Prosecutors typically charge those in possession of drug paraphernalia for personal use with a Class A misdemeanor. Upon conviction, you may face up to a year in jail, probation, fines and court costs. You may also encounter some collateral consequences for a drug paraphernalia conviction, including difficulty obtaining both employment and academic financial aid.
What are some common defenses to a paraphernalia charge?
You probably do not have to stand idly by while prosecutors pursue a conviction against you for possessing drug paraphernalia. That is, you may be able to mount a successful defense. Here are some common defenses to a paraphernalia charge:
- Legal possession
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of controlled substance
- Illegal search and seizure
Your defense options likely depend on the facts and circumstances of your arrest. Ultimately, though, exploring all possible defenses may help you avoid the serious legal and life consequences that often accompany a paraphernalia conviction.