Wisconsin residents may be aware that possessing drugs such as heroin or cocaine is illegal. However, it is also illegal in some cases to possess drug paraphernalia, and doing so could lead to charges even if an individual isn’t in possession of the drugs themselves. It is a federal crime to sell some of these objects or offer to sell them. Furthermore, it is a violation of federal law to mail, import or export drug paraphernalia.

Context is important when determining if possession of such objects is a crime. For instance, if a pipe is used to smoke tobacco, it is generally not illegal to possess that pipe. However, if there is drug residue on the pipe, an individual could face a criminal charge in states where the use of marijuana for personal or medical reasons is unlawful. Technically, any item used to either distribute or consume illegal drugs could be considered paraphernalia. This means that everyday objects like a spoon or scale could fall under that definition.

In most cases, a charge of possessing drug paraphernalia is minor compared to a drug possession charge. Depending on the state in which a person was found with the items, he or she may not face any charges. However, a conviction on a federal drug paraphernalia charge could bring a prison sentence as well as a fine.

An individual who is facing drug paraphernalia charges may wish to talk with an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to come up with a defense to the charge that may result in a plea deal or an acquittal. For instance, it may be possible to argue that a pipe mailed to another state was meant to be used to smoke tobacco. It may also be possible to argue that an individual didn’t know that an object was meant to be used to ingest or distribute a controlled substance.