Even though drug use can seem like a personal matter, it often has wide-sweeping effects on others. For that reason, according to the Tennesse Department of Health, the state has an interest in promoting healthy communities and individual lifestyles. There are a variety of ways to accomplish these objectives, of course.
As all Tennesseeans know, though, law enforcement agencies across the state take a hard-line approach to drugs. Indeed, the Volunteer State has some serious penalties for those who possess controlled substances. The state also criminalizes the possession of drug paraphernalia.
What exactly is drug paraphernalia?
Tennessee has a broad and expansive definition of “paraphernalia.” Specifically, anything you can use to make, distribute, package, hide or use controlled substances might meet the definition. In the right context, even household items, such as scales, plastic bags and spoons, may qualify.
Can you accidentally have drug paraphernalia?
You should not panic, however. While some common items technically might be drug paraphernalia, context matters a great deal.
When considering whether an object is paraphernalia, officers typically look at the entirety of the circumstances. The following details are usually relevant:
- Whether the person with the object has a drug-related criminal record
- Whether the drug-associated activities are part of the object’s usual purpose
- Whether the person with the object makes incriminating statements
- Whether there are drugs or drug residue on or near the object
As you can see, because the context makes a difference, it is not possible to accidentally have drug paraphernalia. Ultimately, if you are facing paraphernalia charges, proving you had an object for innocent reasons might help you avoid a conviction.