In order to convict a person of possession of drug paraphernalia in Utah, prosecuting attorneys must prove three things: First, they must prove that the item found is drug paraphernalia. Second, they must prove that the defendant was in possession. Third, they must prove that the defendant knew that he or she was in possession. All three of these elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the defendant to be found guilty.
“Drug paraphernalia” is the term Utah law uses to describe any item used for or intended to be used in connection with a controlled substance or used for making a controlled substance. Examples of the kinds of items that courts have considered to be drug paraphernalia are roach clips, rolling papers, hypodermic needles, pipes, scales, balances, balloons, envelopes, chemicals used to cut drugs like cocaine, items such as lamps used to grow marijuana, and kits used to manufacture methamphetamine. In deciding whether an item is drug paraphernalia, courts will often look at whether the item was found near illegal drugs. For example, plastic baggies found near an illegal drug would probably be considered drug paraphernalia, where plastic baggies found in a location where there was no other sign of drug activity would most likely not be considered drug paraphernalia.
If drug paraphernalia is found on a person’s body, such as in a pocket, or in a person’s property, such as in a car or a purse, Utah law considers whether that person had actual possession of the item. If it is found close to the person, such as on the ground at his or her feet, the prosecution must prove that the person was in control of the item. This can be a complicated issue. A good defense lawyer can show the court that there is reasonable doubt whether the defendant had actual possession of the item.
Finally, Utah law requires that the defendant knows that he or she was in possession of the drug paraphernalia. A person is not guilty if the item was planted on them or in their belongings.
Possession of drug paraphernalia in Utah is often charged in conjunction with other drug related crimes. It is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000.
If the case is solid against you, the Salt Lake City legal team at Intermountain Legal will negotiate to minimize the consequences and find the best solution for you. Because we have experience on the other side, we know what judges and prosecutors are looking for, and we will help you make the best decisions every step of the way.
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