Drug Paraphernalia Possession

Unlike a handful of other Western states, Utah has not legalized marijuana in any form. Even medical marijuana is still banned in Utah. Senate Bill 73, an initiative to provide a low-THC grade of cannabis to sick people in need of medical help, failed to get out of a Senate committee in 2016 and therefore no vote was taken.

So it goes without saying that possession of any type of drug paraphernalia in conservative Utah is also illegal. Depending on the circumstances, pipes, bongs, scales — even straws or pieces of tin foil — can be construed as "drug paraphernalia" by law enforcement authorities resulting in an arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Utah is serious about drug crimes. In Utah, crimes for possession of drug paraphernalia are based on whether the item was simply possessed or offered for sale. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum sentence of six (6) months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Sale of drug paraphernalia in Utah is a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of up to one (1) year and a fine of up to $2,500. Sale of drug paraphernalia to a minor under 18 years old is a third-degree felony, with a maximum prison sentence of up to five (5) years and a maximum fine of $2,500.

Attorneys for Drug Paraphernalia Crimes in Salt Lake City, Utah

If you were arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia in Salt Lake City or anywhere else in Utah, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

The experienced attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP fight drug charges throughout Utah. Our clients come to us from all over the State of Utah including Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities including Provo, Orem, West Valley City, West Jordan, and Sandy.

Many paraphernalia possession charges in Utah also involve the alleged illegal possession of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or ecstasy, which can result in additional and even more serious criminal charges.

The smart thing to do if you were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia is to consult with an experienced Utah attorney to assist you with your case. Call (801) 532-5297 to contact the criminal defense lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP today.

Overview of Drug Paraphernalia Possession in Utah

  • Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia Crimes under Utah Law
  • Elements of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Factors Relevant to Identifying Drug Paraphernalia
  • Additional Resources

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Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia Crimes under Utah Law

Under the Utah Code Sections 58 and 76, the mere possession of drugs and the mere possession of drug paraphernalia are both illegal in Utah. In fact, Utah Code Ann., §§ 58-37A(3-5) makes it unlawful for any person 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 the law.

Depending on the circumstances, the possession of drug paraphernalia can be charged as follows:

  • Possession of paraphernalia is a Class B misdemeanor in Utah, punishable by a maximum sentence of six (6) months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000;
  • The sale of paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of sentence of one (1) year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,500 under Utah Code Ann., §§ 76-3, Sections 203-301; or
  • The sale of paraphernalia to a minor is a third-degree felony, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of five (5) years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.

It is notable that possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in Utah is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The sale of drug paraphernalia to a minor or in the presence of a minor, or within 1,000 feet of a school or other designated public drug-free area is subject to increased penalties under Utah Code Ann. § 58-37-8.

Utah's harsh drug laws also impose driver's license suspensions for persons convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia. Any conviction could result in a driver's license suspension of up to six (6) months under Utah Code Ann. § 53-3-2201(1)(c)(i)(A).

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Elements of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

The crime of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt of the following elements:

  1. the defendant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly;
  2. used drug paraphernalia or possessed drug paraphernalia with intent to use it; and
  3. to inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body; or
  4. did so to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, conceal, contain, store, repack, pack, analyze, test, prepare, process, produce, convert, compound, or manufacture a controlled substance.

The standard jury instructions include an instruction on the definition of “drug paraphernalia.” The definition provides that the term drug paraphernalia means:

  • any product, equipment, or material used, or intended for use, to conceal, contain, store, repackage, package, analyze, test, prepare, process, produce, convert, compound, manufacture, plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, or harvest a controlled substance; or
  • to inhale, ingest, inject or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body.

The definition of "drug paraphernalia" in Utah includes but is not limited to:

  • containers and other objects used, or intended for use to store or conceal a controlled substance;
  • capsules, balloons, envelopes, and other containers used, or intended for use to package small quantities of a controlled substance;
  • blenders, bowls, containers, spoons and mixing devices used, or intended for use to compound a controlled substance;
  • separation gins and sifters used, or intended for use to remove twigs, seeds, or other impurities from marihuana;
  • diluents and adulterants, such as quinine hydrochloride, mannitol, mannited, dextrose and lactose, used, or intended for use to cut a controlled substance;
  • scales and balances used, or intended for use, in weighing or measuring a controlled substance;
  • testing equipment used, or intended for use, to identify or to analyze the strength, effectiveness, or purity of a controlled substance;
  • isomerization devices used, or intended for use, to increase the potency of any species of plant which is a controlled substance;
  • kits used, or intended for use, in manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, or preparing a controlled substance;
  • kits used, or intended for use, in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, or harvesting any species of plant which is a controlled substance or from which a controlled substance can be derived;

Drug paraphernalia also includes hypodermic syringes, needles, and other objects used, or intended for use to parenterally inject a controlled substance into the human body, except as provided in Section 58-37a-5.

Additionally, the definition of drug paraphernalia can include objects used, or intended for use to ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body, including but not limited to any of the following:

  • bongs;
  • water pipes;
  • roach clips: meaning objects used to hold burning material, such as a marihuana cigarette, that has become too small or too short to be held in the hand;
  • smoking and carburetion masks;
  • ice pipes or chillers;
  • carburetor pipes
  • electric pipes;
  • air-driven pipes;
  • chillums;
  • miniature cocaine spoons and cocaine vials;
  • chamber pipes;
  • metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic, or ceramic pipes with or without screens, permanent screens, hashish heads, or punctured metal bowls; and
  • carburetion tubes and devices.

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Factors Relevant to Identifying Drug Paraphernalia

The standard jury instructions also include factors relevant to identifying drug paraphernalia. The jury instruction provides that when determining whether an object is drug paraphernalia, the jury should consider relevant factors such as:

  • statements by an owner or by anyone in control of the object concerning its use;
  • prior convictions, if any, of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, under any state or federal law relating to a controlled substance;
  • the existence of any residue of a controlled substance on the object;
  • the proximity of the object to a controlled substance;
  • the proximity of the object, in time and space, to a direct violation of this chapter;
  • instructions whether oral or written, provided with the object concerning its use;
  • national and local advertising concerning its use;
  • descriptive materials accompanying the object which explain or depict its use;
  • the manner in which the object is displayed for sale;
  • expert testimony concerning its use;
  • whether the object is subject to Section 58-37a-5;
  • the existence and scope of legitimate uses of the object in the community;
  • direct or circumstantial evidence of the ratio of sales of the object to the total sales of the business enterprise; and
  • whether the owner or anyone in control of the object is a legitimate supplier of like or related items to the community, such as a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products.

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Additional Resources

Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act — Read the text of the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act, Title 58, Chapter 37(a), Sections 3-5, to learn about the laws related to Utah's drug paraphernalia laws.

Utah’s Drug Paraphernalia Act under Section 58-37a-1 - Visit the Utah Legislature’s website to find the purpose of the Act, the definition of “drug paraphernalia,” considerations in determining whether an object is drug paraphernalia, unlawful acts, and sentencing requirements for minors.

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Finding a Lawyer for Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Salt Lake City, UT

If you were arrested for a crime in Utah related to possession of drug paraphernalia, then you should call to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP are prepared to assist you, no matter what criminal charges you face.

Our familiarity with the courts and the resources available for people accused of crimes may help you avoid the most serious criminal penalties and keep you out of jail. We may be able to assist in helping you find a court-approved program that can lead to a reduction or dismissal of the original charges.

Contact the dedicated criminal defense lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP today by calling (801) 532-5297 to discuss your case.

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