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Alabama's drug paraphernalia laws can trap the unwary

Like other states, Alabama law criminalizes the possession of and transfer items that are referred to as drug paraphernalia. These items can be household products and other common goods, including things like rolling paper, pipes, weighing scales, blenders and the like.

Basically, anything that can be used for the creation, distribution or use of controlled substances, including marijuana, is potentially drug paraphernalia. Even without aggravating circumstances, just possessing drug paraphernalia can lead to a misdemeanor conviction under Alabama's anti-drug laws.

Depending on the circumstances, a felony charge related to drug paraphernalia is possible, even if police and prosecutors never locate actual controlled substances.

The trick with drug paraphernalia charges is that many items used in the drug trade are not in themselves illegal and may have innocent or, at worst, non-criminal purposes. As such, courts and juries must look at the circumstances and consider a number of factors before deciding that a particular item is actually drug paraphernalia.

Some of these factors include whether remnants of a controlled substance were found on the object and whether the object was located in a place where controlled substances themselves were also located.

Other factors are a little nebulous to say the least. For instance, police can consider their suspect's incriminating statements and criminal history when deciding whether an object is paraphernalia. They can also consider factors like how the product is advertised and the testimony of an expert, often one who frequently gets used in court by police and prosecutors.

Many young people in Mobile and others, including those trying to earn a living in a legitimate business, may find themselves accused of serious drug crimes under Alabama law that are related to drug paraphernalia. In these sorts of situations, consulting with a criminal defense attorney can be critical.

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