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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.

Do You Need A Raleigh NC Drug Possession Attorney?

Drug possession — two words that can mean the end of your life as you know it. Like DUI, North Carolina has some of the strictest laws and harshest penalties in the country. One mistake can mean lifelong consequences—even jail time.

Do You Need A Raleigh NC Drug Possession Attorney?Possession of drug paraphernalia can also see you arrested, whether or not you intend to use it for drug consumption. Even everyday items like a scale and small bags can be considered “paraphernalia” for either using or selling.

Drug trafficking (sale, distribution, and possession of large amounts for those purposes) are more serious charges that can get you long-term jail time and heavy fines.

Even a misdemeanor drug conviction can negatively affect your life for years to come. It can be even worse if you’re actually innocent.

The North Carolina Controlled Substances Act

North Carolina divides different drugs into categories, or “schedules,” and the penalties differ with each classification, depending on their potential for abuse. The state’s Controlled Substances Act spells out each category and grades each substance. Penalties and jail times vary with the severity of the charges.

  • Schedule I: this is a class I felony for drugs like opiates, heroin, ecstasy, and peyote, among others, with no “accepted medical use” and are at high risk for addiction and abuse.
  • Schedule II: this is a class 1 misdemeanor for drugs that have a medical use, but also have the potential for addiction, such as opium, cocaine, morphine, Oxycodone, Methadone, and others.
  • Schedule III: this is a class 1 misdemeanor for addictive substances that also have a medical use, such as anabolic steroids, ketamine, Lysergic Acid and Nalorphine with a lower potential for addiction.
  • Schedule IV: this is a class 1 misdemeanor for prescription drugs with an accepted medical use but a lower risk of abuse and addiction. This class includes prescriptions such as Xanax, Darvon, Valium, Clonazepam, and others.
  • Schedule V: this is a class 1 misdemeanor for prescription narcotic drugs that aren’t as addictive, but still have the potential for abuse. This includes over-the-counter medications such as cough syrup with codeine.
  • Schedule VI: this is a class 3 misdemeanor for drugs with no recognized medical use in North Carolina, have a low potential for addiction and abuse, including marijuana, hashish oil, and hashish.

A Note About Marijuana

Having marijuana in your possession is still a crime in North Carolina. “For medicinal purposes” is not a valid defense.

Many states have passed varying amounts of marijuana legalization for different reasons. One of the latest, Louisiana, has only legalized marijuana for medical uses, not in smokeable form or for recreational use. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, as well as neighboring Kentucky and Tennessee, have not passed any laws legalizing it, and you can still be charged.

North Carolina state lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation this year to allow medical marijuana in the state of North Carolina this year, and some doctors now have the limited ability to prescribe it.  This map shows which states have legalized marijuana, and in what capacity.

Until then, marijuana is still illegal in North Carolina. You can still be arrested for having it, even in small amounts.

Call A Strong Criminal Defense Attorney in Raleigh, NC

Do you need an attorney to defend you for drug charges in North Carolina? Absolutely, or you could risk even more jail time, fines and other penalties. Hiring the right Raleigh drug possession attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

Whatever you do, don’t just plead guilty because you’re not sure what you should do (especially if you’re innocent.) You have the right to have an attorney who can aggressively defend you and make sure your rights are protected.

As a former Wake County prosecutor, Dewey P. Brinkley is now an experienced criminal defense attorney who will aggressively defend you and work towards the most favorable outcome. He can defend you against drug charges, fight any wrongful charges and work for a more reasonable sentence if convicted. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your child’s case at (919) 832-0307.