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Can You Be Charged For Possessing Drug Paraphernalia Without Any Drugs Present In Raleigh, NC?

During a routine traffic stop, a police officer finds that you’re in possession of some small, self-sealing clear plastic bags that are commonly used to hold jewelry and other small handmade items. Inexpensive, and purchased at a local craft store chain, they’re sold in packages of 150 and are available in sizes from 1½” x 2” to 4” x 6”.

But the officer doesn’t buy your explanation of your jewelry making business for craft shows and an Etsy store online, calling them “baggies.” Now, you’re facing charges of possession of drug paraphernalia. What just happened?

Defining Drug Paraphernalia

In a literal sense, nearly anything that can be used in the production, packaging, or use of a drug can be considered “drug paraphernalia,” including everyday items like the aforementioned small plastic bags. The prosecutor must also prove that these items were intended for a drug-related use.

If the officer discovered drugs or drug residue on an item, this charge will generally accompany another one. Other ordinary items that could be considered drug paraphernalia include:

Can You Be Charged For Possessing Drug Paraphernalia Without Any Drugs Present In Raleigh, NC?

  • Plastic food storage bags of any size with a zipper-lock (i.e., “baggies”)
  • Scales of any kind, including kitchen food scales to measure small amounts
  • Items that can be used in drug processing such as:
    • Bowls
    • Blenders and other mixing tools
    • Spoons
    • Containers, such as balloons, envelopes, capsules and other items for compounding
    • Small-scale containers for storing
  • Containers used to store and/or conceal controlled substances

Other items that are considered drug paraphernalia include:

  • Pipes used for inhaling
  • Grinders
  • Bongs
  • Rolling papers (which can also be used for tobacco)
  • Planting/cultivation kits and equipment, including grow lights
  • Separation gins and sifters (to clean and remove twigs and seeds from marijuana)
  • Hypodermic syringes and needles for injecting controlled substances
  • Objects that assist with ingesting controlled substances, such as pipes and masks

The North Carolina Drug Paraphernalia Act has a complete listing of these items, as well as a description of different related charges.


Possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by a jail term of 120 days and possibly fine at the judge’s discretion. However, this also depends on one’s past criminal history.

This charge is frequently combined with other drug-related charges, such as:

  • Possession of a controlled substance (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.)
  • Sale/intent to sell and deliver
  • Drug cultivation
  • Drug manufacturing
  • Drug trafficking
  • Drug distribution

A charge of marijuana paraphernalia (items used with marijuana consumption) is a Class 3 misdemeanor with lesser penalties.

Even though possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a misdemeanor, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. A criminal defense attorney can defend you against the charge or charges, as well as:

  • Challenge the circumstances of the search and arrest
  • Request the search warrant involved
  • Request if the officer had reason to believe that the items were used with or intended for use with drugs
  • Ensure that your rights are protected in court

Your charges may be dropped or reduced when your defense attorney raises these defenses.

Contact Dewey P. Brinkley For Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Raleigh

If you’ve been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, call us! It’s important to have strong legal counsel to help you fight the charges. Going to court without legal representation raises the odds that you will lose your case and see jail time that will affect every aspect of your life.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who will prepare a strong defense and make sure you receive a fair trial. He has considerable experience defending those charged with drug-related offenses and works for the best possible outcome. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation.