Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Virginia

It goes without saying that possession of illegal drugs—including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and LSD—carries with it severe penalties. However, so does the possession of “drug paraphernalia.” In Virginia, possession of controlled paraphernalia is also a crime.

“Controlled paraphernalia” specifically refers to hypodermic needles, syringes or “other instruments” used to illegally administer a controlled substance. However, it may also include items found in “close proximity” to adulterants (substances used to “cut” the drug) or equipment used to manufacture, distribute or dispense controlled substances, including:

  • Scales
  • Sieves and strainers
  • Measuring spoons
  • Staples and staplers
  • Gelatin capsules or glassine envelopes

It typically does not include “bongs,” water pipes, hookahs or rolling papers.

Possession of controlled paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor

In Virginia, a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 or a jail term of up to 12 months—or both. Class 1 misdemeanor charges should not be taken lightly. In addition to beingthe most serious misdemeanor crime (just one step below a felony), it becomes part of a criminal record that can follow you for a lifetime.

The naloxone exception

Possession of a hypodermic syringe is not illegal for “a person who dispenses naloxone in accordance with the provisions of subsection Y of § 54.1-3408 and who, in conjunction with such dispensing of naloxone, dispenses or distributes hypodermic needles and syringes for injecting such naloxone or a person who possesses naloxone that has been dispensed in accordance with the provisions of and possesses hypodermic needles and syringes for injecting such naloxone in conjunction with such possession of naloxone.”

This does not mean that anybody can have a syringe for the purpose of administering naloxone (also known as Narcan and Evzio). Under Subsection Y, the exception is only made for a person who has been authorized by “a person who is authorized by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services” and “who is acting on behalf of an organization that provides services to individuals at risk of experiencing an opioid overdose or training in the administration of naloxone for overdose reversal and that has obtained a controlled substances registration from the Board of Pharmacy.”

What to do if you have been arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia

Because of the severity of the penalties, it is in your best interest to seek legal help as soon as you’ve been charged. At the NoVa Law Firm, we thoroughly investigate your case, and develop a strong defense strategy on your behalf. Our best defense attorney is a trial-tested veteran of the courts with a track record of success in defending clients against these types of charges. To schedule a consultation, please contact us online or call our office at (703) 352-9347.

Eric Clingan
About the Author: Eric Clingan
Eric Clingan is an experienced Criminal Defense attorney and the founder of the NoVA Law firm. He focuses his practice on defending residents of Northern Virginia charged with DUIs, reckless driving, drug charges, and other criminal accusations.