Is Having Drug Paraphernalia a Crime in Illinois?
Drug paraphernalia is a term that refers to any equipment, product, or material that is used to prepare, inject, inhale, or consume drugs. The possession of drug paraphernalia is often considered a misdemeanor offense in many states, including Illinois.
What Specifically Constitutes Drug Paraphernalia in Illinois?
Drug paraphernalia includes but is not limited to:
- Kits for growing or processing cannabis or other drugs, such as hydroponic systems, fertilizers, and pesticides;
- Pipes, bongs, chillums, or other smoking devices for inhaling cannabis or other drugs;
- Syringes, needles, or other injection devices for injecting drugs;
- Scales, balances, or other weighing devices for measuring drugs;
- Grinders, sifters, or other devices for preparing drugs for ingestion;
- Roach clips, used to hold the end of a cannabis cigarette (joint) or blunt; and
- Any other item that can be used to facilitate drug use.
When Does Illinois Consider Having Drug Paraphernalia a Crime?
Under Illinois law, possession of drug paraphernalia is a crime if the person knows or reasonably should know that the object is drug paraphernalia, or if the person intends to use the object for a drug-related purpose.
Specifically, the Illinois drug paraphernalia statute (720 ILCS 600/3.5) provides that:
“A person commits the offense of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia when he or she knowingly uses, or possesses 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 into the human body a controlled substance.”
It is not a defense that the person used the object for a lawful purpose or that the object had other legitimate uses.
However, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person knew or should have known that the object was drug paraphernalia, or that the person intended to use the object for a drug-related purpose. The fact that drugs were found in close proximity to the object may be used as evidence of the person’s knowledge or intent, but it is not conclusive.
Consequences for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia in Illinois
The penalties for unlawful use of drug paraphernalia in Illinois vary depending on the circumstances and the amount and type of drugs involved.
Generally, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. However, if the object is used to inject a controlled substance into a person under the age of 18, the offense is a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
If the object is used to inject a controlled substance into a person who subsequently dies as a result of the injection, the charge is even more severe – a Class 3 felony, punishable by two to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
In addition to the criminal penalties, a conviction for drug paraphernalia may have other consequences, such as loss of employment, housing, or driver’s license.
Fighting Illinois Charges Related to Drug Paraphernalia Possession
If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in Illinois, there are several defenses that your lawyer may be able to use to fight back.
Some common defenses include:
- Lack of knowledge. If you didn’t know that the item in question was drug paraphernalia, you may be able to argue that you lacked the knowledge necessary to be guilty of the offense. For example, if you were carrying a pipe you believed to be a tobacco pipe, you might be able to say that you didn’t realize it was drug paraphernalia.
- No intent to use. If the prosecution cannot prove that you intended to use the item as drug paraphernalia, you may be able to argue that you did not commit the offense. For example, if you were found with a scale in your possession, you may be able to argue that you intended to use it for weighing food or other non-drug related items.
- Unlawful search and seizure. If the police obtained the evidence of drug paraphernalia through an illegal search or seizure, you may be able to argue that the evidence should be suppressed and the charges dismissed. This defense is often used when the police did not have a warrant or probable cause to search your person, vehicle, or home.
- Medical necessity. If you were in possession of drug paraphernalia for a medical necessity, such as for the administration of insulin or other prescription drugs, you may be able to argue that you had a lawful purpose for possessing the item.
Bottom line? If you are facing charges of drug paraphernalia in Illinois, you have several options to fight the charges. Which defense strategy is best for your case? That is something an experienced Illinois criminal attorney should decide.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.