When people think of drug crimes, they often think of drug rings, meth labs, and hiding weed in your closet. Indeed, the possession of drugs is criminalized in Utah and taken seriously. However, what you may not think of right away is that possessing drug paraphernalia is also criminalized. Drug paraphernalia can be anything that is made to create or use controlled substances. The possession of these items can be met with criminal penalties if you are convicted.
If you are convicted of possessing drug paraphernalia in Utah, there can be serious consequences. You will have crimes on your record, which could make it difficult to get certain jobs or live in certain areas. Moreover, although the penalties are less than those for actually possessing drugs, they are still serious and involve prison sentences.
If you need legal assistance, call our Salt Lake City drug crime defense lawyers with Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 for a free, confidential analysis of your case.
The Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act
Utah Code § 58-37a is better known as the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act. This is the set of laws that criminalizes the possession of drug paraphernalia. The stated goal of the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act is to curb drug usage by criminalizing the things that are used to use and make drugs.
As we go through this article, our Utah drug defense lawyers will explain the important parts of the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act, including what paraphernalia is, the penalties for possessing paraphernalia, and other important information you need to know if you are facing drug charges in Utah.
What is Considered “Drug Paraphernalia” in Utah?
Perhaps the most important part of understanding the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act is what exactly “paraphernalia” is in the first place. Under Utah Code § 58-37a-3, drug paraphernalia is defined as equipment, products, or materials used to work with drugs in any way. This encompasses a great deal of items. Below, our drug defense lawyers have compiled some examples of what can be considered drug paraphernalia under Utah law.
Perhaps the most well-known piece of drug paraphernalia is the bong. Generally, a bong is a globular glass vessel with an area to place marijuana and a long tube extending upward. However, bongs come in all shapes and sizes, and their variety has only grown with the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in many states.
Pipes and Bowls
Purpose-made pipes and blows are also considered drug paraphernalia in Utah. These pieces are also frequently custom-made for use with marijuana. Although pipes are frequently used for other, harder drugs, like the infamous “crack pipe.” Pipes and bowls, however, are not always paraphernalia, as they have other uses.
Drug Farm Equipment
The equipment used to grow marijuana can also be considered drug paraphernalia under Utah law. This would include lamps, greenhouses, seeds, and soil used to cultivate the plant.
Equipment used to manufacture drugs is also paraphernalia. So, for example, if a SWAT team raids a meth lab, the drug makers will face charges related to the possession and distribution of drugs as well as charges related to drug paraphernalia.
Test Strip Carve Out
Hidden among the large list of things that are drug paraphernalia are some things that are not drug paraphernalia. Specifically, equipment such as fentanyl “test strips” that are used to determine whether something is a harmful drug or not is exempt. That is good since such equipment saves lives but would otherwise be considered illegal under this law.
Penalties for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia in Utah
There are severe penalties for possessing drug paraphernalia in Utah. There are different penalties associated with different crimes involving drug paraphernalia. Those crimes are laid out in Utah Code § 58-37a-5.
Using Drug Paraphernalia
Using drug paraphernalia – or intending to use it – for anything from taking drugs to growing them and anything in between is a class b misdemeanor under Utah law. These crimes have a potential prison term of six months attached.
Delivering Drug Paraphernalia
It is actually a more serious crime to deliver drug paraphernalia than it is to use it. If you give drug paraphernalia to someone and you know that it is going to be used to make or take drugs, you might be convicted of a class A misdemeanor, which is punished with a prison sentence of up to 364 days.
Giving Drug Paraphernalia to Minors
It is a crime for anyone over the age of 18 to give drug paraphernalia to minors. Doing so is a felony in the third degree. Third-degree felonies are punished by up to five years in prison in Utah.
Advertising for Drugs
This section also criminalizes advertising for drugs in the State of Utah. Doing so in a newspaper, magazine, or any other place is a class B misdemeanor, which has a potential prison sentence of up to six months.
How to Defend Against Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Utah
There are a couple of strategies that our Utah drug defense lawyers can employ to help defend you against a drug paraphernalia charge. Which one is best for you will depend on your situation.
First, we can explain an alternative use for the alleged paraphernalia. This, however, will only work well if there is indeed another use for the item. For example, a scale has other uses besides measuring drugs. A crack pipe, on the other hand, does not have another use besides the use of crack cocaine.
Second, we can file a motion to suppress evidence if the paraphernalia was confiscated illegally. For example, if a police officer did not have a warrant or probable cause to search where they found the paraphernalia, that evidence can probably be excluded from trial.
Get Help from Our Utah Drug Defense Lawyers Today
Call Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 and get a free case review from our Utah criminal defense defense lawyers.