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How does a prosecutor prove something is paraphernalia?

| Nov 4, 2020 | Firm News |

While people create some objects specifically for drug-related activities such as growing, transporting, compounding, injecting or inhaling controlled substances, other objects that may perform these same functions also have legal uses. Drug paraphernalia is illegal, but determining whether an object is paraphernalia or not may be difficult.

The Louisiana legislature set out these guidelines for courts to use in deciding whether an object is drug paraphernalia.

Is there evidence of drug-related use?

Drug residue on the object or the proximity of drugs to the object may be difficult evidence to refute. If someone has the object in his or her possession or claims to be the owner of the object and identifies the object’s drug-related usage, the court may also use that as evidence.

Are there instructions for using the objects?

If law enforcement finds written instructions that explain how to use an object for a drug-related purpose, the prosecutor may present that as evidence. Oral instructions and descriptive materials depicting how the object functions are also evidence. If someone displays the object for sale in a manner that implies it has a drug-related use, that may also indicate that it is paraphernalia.

A prosecutor may have expert testimony that explains an object’s drug-related uses to the court.

Does the object have another purpose?

The court should consider the object’s legitimate use and its prevalence in the community. For example, balloons, tubes of glue, small spoons, straws and razor blades have many uses. If no direct evidence ties these to controlled substance activities, the court might not rule that they are paraphernalia.

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