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How do Montana courts determine what is drug paraphernalia?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Along with illegal drugs, sometimes the police find an object that they think is drug paraphernalia, a tool or object used to produce or package drugs. Since a paraphernalia conviction can add more punishment on top of other drug charges, mounting a defense could prevent more jail time and fines.

The problem with drug paraphernalia is that common household objects such as spoons or paper packaging qualify as paraphernalia under certain circumstances. State law describes different criteria for Montana courts to use to determine whether an object is illegal paraphernalia.

Statements concerning object usage

A court can use statements about an object to determine if it qualifies as paraphernalia. They can include the following:

  • Claims made by the person controlling the object
  • Verbal or oral instructions that come with the object
  • Materials accompanying the object describing use
  • Local or national advertisements featuring the object
  • How a vendor has displayed the object for sale

This is important to keep in mind since the court may consider statements from sources other than yourself.

Evidence of drug use

If someone has used suspected paraphernalia in connection with illegal drugs, certain kinds of evidence may appear. Residue of a drug could be on the object in question, or the supposed paraphernalia may be in close proximity to illegal substances.

The possible legitimacy of the object

State law also instructs courts to look at legitimizing factors. An object may have a broad scope of legal uses in a community. The object could be under the control of a legal supplier of similar items in the area. An expert witness may also explain whether the object qualifies as paraphernalia or not.

Other determining factors can include whether you had any previous criminal convictions and whether you knew or should have reasonable knowledge than an object is drug paraphernalia. Learn about your legal options so you know the best possible defense against a paraphernalia possession charge.