Florida law specifically defines "drug paraphernalia" as:
"all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance..."
The statute goes on to describe materials which may be used in planting marijuana, such as items found for cultivation in a marijuana grow house. Furthermore, the statute specifically lists scales (if used in conjunction with drug activity), hypodermic needles (for injecting heroin), pipes, bongs, roach clips, rolling papers, and other items used for smoking marijuana, as well as items such as straws or glass pipes used for ingesting cocaine.
Drug paraphernalia may be a crime in and of itself, or it may be an accompanying charge to another crime. For instance, if you are arrested for trafficking in oxycodone, and the police find scales and baggies along with the suspect narcotics, you can be charged with both trafficking in oxycodone (for the possession of the pills), as well as possession of drug paraphernalia (for the scales and baggies).
Now, if you were found with only baggies and scales, you could not be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia unless there was drug residue on the inside of the baggies. That is because the law requires a "nexus," or connection between drug activity and the paraphernalia.
You may walk into a shop on South Beach and find bongs and other glass pipes for sale. These items are not illegal by themselves, but if you are found with these items in addition to drugs, you can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia because there is a nexus between the bong and marijuana (for instance) because the bong is the instrument by which the marijuana is smoked.
However, if a police officer finds you with a bong but the bong contains marijuana residue, the existence of that residue is the sufficient nexus by which you can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Drug paraphernalia is often discovered during searches of your vehicle, home, or person. As with any police intrusion, your right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures applies.
I am a Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney who practices in Miami-Dade and Broward. I handle drug possession and paraphernalia possession crimes.
If you or a loved one is facing drug paraphernalia charges, call me to discuss your options. If there is no nexus between the paraphernalia and drug activity, or the discovery of the paraphernalia was the result of an illegal search, you may be able to get your case dismissed.