A myriad of circumstances could affect whether a judge convicts a defendant of a drug paraphernalia offense, and even the smallest detail may be relevant. In court, the prosecutor will focus on trying to prove that the defendant is guilty.
According to Florida Statutes, here is what the law says about a paraphernalia manufacture or delivery case.
Elements of proof
The prosecutor has three things to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant either manufactured or possessed with the intent to deliver or actually delivered the paraphernalia.
- The defendant knew that the paraphernalia was present.
- The defendant knew the purpose of the paraphernalia was to ingest a controlled substance.
Reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof, and it means that the prosecutor has presented evidence and arguments that show guilt so obviously that any rational person would accept it as fact.
A prosecutor may not be able to achieve the standard of proof if the defendant can show, for example, that the bag or jacket the paraphernalia is in belonged to someone else. This could present the possibility that the defendant did not know it was there or did not know what it was, or that it belonged to someone else.
Possible penalties for conviction
If the person the defendant has delivered the paraphernalia to is a legal adult, then the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor. If the person is a minor, then the offense is a second-degree felony.
A misdemeanor conviction could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a prison sentence of no more than one year, according to Florida Statute 775.082. However, for a second-degree felony, the prison term could be as high as 15 years.
Judges have considerable latitude when sentencing, so even if a person does receive a conviction, there may be mitigating factors that lessen the consequences.