Did you know that if you are found in possession of tools associated with drug use, even if no drugs are found, that you can be arrested in Colorado? It’s true!
Possession of drug paraphernalia a serious crime in Colorado. Just as with other drug offenses, it goes on your criminal record and can have a huge impact on the rest of your life.
That’s why it critical to understand what drug paraphernalia is and what the consequences are if you are found in possession of it. Here’s what you need to know.
Drug Paraphernalia: What Is It?
Under the law in Colorado, a person is guilty of possessing drug paraphernalia if they are in possession of it and reasonably knows or should know that it could be used to violate drug laws in the state.
Even if no illegal drugs are found along with the items, prosecutors only need to show that the paraphernalia could be used to take illegal drugs, which is a very easy standard to meet in court.
Paraphernalia Explicitly Listed Under CO Law
The big question this law raises is what constitutes drug paraphernalia? The law spells this out as well. Illegal drug paraphernalia is defined as:
- Drug containers
- Hypodermic needles
- Testing equipment
- Separation gins
- Meth pipes
- Purity analyzers
- Coke spoons
Other Items That May Be Considered Paraphernalia
The law also states that any other materials, products, or equipment that can be used or fashioned to use as a way to introduce into the body a controlled substance is also considered drug paraphernalia.
This final part of the drug paraphernalia law is what can get some people into trouble unexpectedly. After all, there are many household objects that can double as drug paraphernalia in the consumption, storage, or manufacture of illegal drugs.
That means that some people may be totally unsuspecting that they are actually in possession of drug paraphernalia.
Exception for Cannabis
In Colorado recreational marijuana is legal. That means that possession of marijuana or any paraphernalia related to it is not a crime in the state any longer.
Of course, some tools used with marijuana can be construed to be used with other drugs that are illegal can be grounds for charges, but those are easy to fight with the help of an experienced attorney.
Hypodermic needles are another item considered drug paraphernalia that has other, non-illegal drug-related purposes, but many people also have them on their person in order to introduce controlled substances into their system.
It’s not uncommon if you are stopped and searched by the police for them to ask if you are in possession of a syringe or hypodermic needle before they pat you down or before you are treated by a first responder.
It’s important to let them know when asked if you are in possession of a needle, this way you cannot be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia related to the needle.
Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia Charges
In Colorado, anyone found guilty of drug paraphernalia charges is found guilty of a petty drug offense. This is punishable by fines up to $100.
While this may not seem like a big deal, don’t forget that this will go on your criminal record and can impact your job or even your housing situation in the future since it can show up on a background check.
Good Faith Reporting
There is one more exception to the drug paraphernalia law in Colorado, which is when someone reports alcohol or drug overdose to law enforcement, a medical provider, or by calling 911 in good faith.
Law enforcement will not charge you will drug paraphernalia possession as long as you remain at the scene until the first responders arrive.
You must also identify yourself to the police and cooperate with them and medical personnel on the scene.
Fighting Drug Paraphernalia Charges
Even though the offense and the penalty may not seem severe, you may still choose to fight drug paraphernalia charges. An experienced attorney can help to present your case and work on your behalf to negotiate a lesser charge, reduce the amount of your fine, or making sure the offense doesn’t go on your criminal record.
Understanding charges related to drug paraphernalia possession are important. After all, you don’t want to find yourself in a sticky situation because you didn’t understand the law or lose a friend or loved one because you don’t understand the exceptions to the law.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.