If you read our blog piece earlier this week, then you learned the basics concerning drug paraphernalia in Maryland. If not, start here.
Okay, now, you’re an expert. So here’s a funny story to explain this subject matter a bit further. This all started during a 2008 trial. During a quick break in the trial, I was in the restroom with opposing counsel, when he looked at me and said, “you know I’m about to destroy your witness.” When we returned to the courtroom, he showed me a photograph he downloaded from Facebook. Mind you, opposing counsel is a phenomenal lawyer, he found this photo and believed it to be a scandalous photo of my star witness smoking marijuana from the largest bong ever created.
As he showed me the photo, I could see him salivating. I looked at the photo, and simply said: “okay, have at him.” The lawyer approached my witness to sink his teeth into my witness’s earlier statements concerning sober living. The lawyer showed the witness the photo, and asked him “isn’t this you smoking marijuana from this giant bong?” The witness politely answered “no!” The lawyer was apoplectic. The lawyer accused him three times of lying until my witness stated, “that’s not a bong, it’s a Didgeridoo, an Australian woodwind instrument!” I then proceeded to ask the witness, as the other lawyer deflated, how many other instruments he played. Of course, I knew the entire time it was not a bong, because I already went on my witness’ Facebook page, saw the photo, and knew what the photo depicted. It pays to be prepared!
Moral of the Story
The moral of this story is three-fold. First, a lawyer should never make assumptions about evidence, as this rarely results in anything positive at trial. Second, not everything that appears to be drug paraphernalia, or could be used as drug paraphernalia, is drug paraphernalia. Third, don’t put any photo on Facebook that you would not want a Judge or Jury to see if you were a witness or accused of a crime.
You already have enough toppings on the Sundae, so eat it and stop letting the ice cream melt!
Police and Prosecutors seem to frequently and almost purposefully confuse everyday items for drug paraphernalia once someone has been arrested for drug possession. I am referring to crimes of simple possession, small amounts of controlled dangerous substances (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, pills). Because once the police search you….if your marijuana is inside a plastic bag, oops, the bag is paraphernalia. If marijuana is found inside of your car, and there is also a Tupperware that your lunch was inside earlier that day, oops, it’s paraphernalia too. If the pills are inside of a bottle—you get the drift!
I often feel as though this charge is a sign of the police losing the forest for the trees. Now if you are a dealer, and the police seize scales, and 400 gel caps, 200 vials used to package crack cocaine, this does not apply to you! However, if you are given a Maryland citation for possession of drug paraphernalia, and they added a paraphernalia charge because you had a smoking device like a stem, one-hitter
There are occasions in which a paraphernalia charge can be used in negotiations to convince the prosecutor to drop the more serious drug possession charge, but don’t think this charge is harmless.
Make sure you Hire a ENLawyer who:
- conducts extensive investigations into the crime
- requests discovery, which is permitted by the rules and reviews it with you
- investigates the law-enforcement officers who make the arrest
- conducts independent investigations and interview all potential witnesses
If you need a lawyer, who knows about narcotics violations, call us, two former prosecutors who have handled thousands of violations of Maryland Criminal Drug Laws.