What are the Laws Against & Penalties for Drug Paraphernalia in Virginia?
In addition to other drug crimes in Virginia, it is unlawful to possess, sell, or advertise for any type of tools or equipment associated with illegal drugs. Legally referred to as drug paraphernalia under Virginia law, these tools and equipment help the user prepare and consume illegal drugs. As a result, Virginia treats drug paraphernalia in a substantially similar ways as drug possession or distribution.
Definition of Drug Paraphernalia
Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-265.1, there is a broad definition of drug paraphernalia. In general terms, drug paraphernalia includes various equipment, products, and other materials associated with illegal drugs. Specifically, the uses of drug paraphernalia include but are not limited to:
- Strength testing;
- Inhalation; or
- Similar production or consumption.
Examples of drug paraphernalia include but are not limited to:
- Kits designed to manufacture, produce, or cultivate illegal drugs;
- Testing equipment designed to evaluate type of potency of illegal drugs;
- Weighing devices designed to measure weight or mass of illegal drugs;
- Containers designed to store and transport illegal drugs;
- Needles and syringes designed to inject illegal drugs; and
- Pipes and bowls designed for inhalation of illegal drugs.
Penalties for Sale of Drug Paraphernalia
Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-265.3, it is unlawful to sell or possess with the intent to sell drug paraphernalia. In most circumstances, any person who knowingly violates this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and subject to criminal penalties under Virginia law. Upon conviction, a Class 1 misdemeanor is normally punishable by 12 months in jail and $2,500 in criminal fines, either or both.
That being said, selling — or possessing with the intent to sell — drug paraphernalia can become a Class 6 felony under Virginia law. These heightened penalties apply when an adult sells drug paraphernalia to a minor who is at least three years younger. In these cases, a conviction is typically punishable by one to five years in prison and $2,500 in criminal fines.
Advertisement of Drug Paraphernalia
Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-265.5, it is unlawful to advertise the sale of drug paraphernalia in certain publications. Specifically, this section applies to advertisements placed in:
- Handbills; or
- Similar publications.
If the person who places the advertisement knows — or reasonably should know — that the content promotes the sale of drug paraphernalia, then it is a violation of Section 18.2-265.5.
Any person who violates Section 18.2-265.5 is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia law. Upon conviction, the penalties for this offense are usually identical to those described in the previous section.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about drug paraphernalia or other drug crimes in Virginia, it is worthwhile to reach out to a talented drug crime attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP, servicing Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Manassas, have vast experience in the field of criminal defense, including drug paraphernalia charges and related offenses. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.