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Water bongs can land you in hot water: Drug paraphernalia defense

The state of Louisiana takes marijuana prohibition and its enforcement very seriously. Getting caught in possession of marijuana itself can result in being charged with a number of criminal offenses, but if there are smoking accessories discovered at the same time, you can be facing additional charges. Those additional charges can result in greater fines or even longer jail time or probation requirements. If you are facing drug possession charges compounded with paraphernalia charges, you should consult with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.

Drug charges are serious business in Louisiana

Cultural attitudes toward marijuana have shifted substantially in the last decade. Many people no longer consider marijuana use a serious crime, but that attitude does not extend to the courts or law enforcement. While the process of marijuana legalization has been reducing arrests in other states and in areas that have decriminalized, like New Orleans, many people in the state of Louisiana are still being cited, arrested, and prosecuted for violating state marijuana laws.

Even a first time offender found with less than fourteen grams on one's person is subject to up to fifteen days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $300. Penalties increase substantially with the amount of marijuana found and the number of previous offenses. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that this is "just a marijuana possession charge." Without the right approach to defending yourself, you could face long-term consequences.

What is drug paraphernalia?

The laws in Louisiana are very clear: It is illegal to sell, rent, share, use, or own drug paraphernalia. Under state law, drug paraphernalia includes any product intended to aid in the planting, growing, harvesting, concentration or preparation, consumption, or combustion of a prohibited substance. This means that any smoking or vaporizing device used to consume marijuana is illegal, as are storage devices, grinders, and anything else that can be argued to be used in the production of consumption of marijuana.

Labs are able to determine if a substance is a marijuana extract or concentrate, and they can also determine if items have come into contact with marijuana or its active ingredients, cannabinoids. If law enforcement found and seized any paraphernalia when citing or arresting you for marijuana possession, you may face additional charges.

Marijuana charges can cost you your license

In addition to court costs, the social cost of having a drug offense on your record, and lost time to incarceration or substance abuse treatment programs, a guilty plea or conviction for a drug offense in the state of Louisiana can cost you your driver's license for an entire year! The law allows for discretion in sentencing, with the minimum being 30 days and the maximum being a full year. Without an experienced attorney who understands the state drug laws and has tried similar cases in the past, you could be subject to maximum penalties. An attorney can help you explore potential defenses to your charges and advocate on your behalf to reduce the impact of the charges you are facing.

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Law Office of John E. Fitz-Gerald, L.L.C.
1 Lakeshore Dr, Suite 1230
Lake Charles, LA 70629

Phone: 337-494-1200
Fax: 337-494-1009
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