• North Carolina Criminal Law | What's the Difference Between Possession of Drugs and Possession of Paraphernalia
  • August 3, 2012
  • Law Firm: Matheson Law Office PLLC - Raleigh Office
  • Some of the more common North Carolina Drug Charges that I see are Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana and Misdemeanor Possession of Paraphernalia. While the differences between these two charges may seem evident, there are important distinctions which should be discussed. As a Cary Criminal Lawyer and Holly Springs DWI Attorney I have many clients who have been charged with either or both of these charges. I spend a good amount of time explaining what these charges mean, what defense my client may have, and most importantly, what consequences they may face if convicted. This article will review these two charges and what differences are important to those facing either or both of these North Carolina Criminal Charges.

    When a Defendant is charged with either of these charges, one of the first things they should do is get in contact with a good North Carolina Criminal Attorney so they can better understand what these charges mean. The first thing I inform my clients is that these are two separate, distinct charges. Though possession of marijuana can seem very obvious, the paraphernalia can sometimes be confusing. Paraphernalia can include ANYTHING which could be used in the purchasing, selling, distributing, manufacturing or selling of drugs. While the more obvious items can include, bongs, bowls, and pipes, there are other, less obvious items which can lead to a paraphernalia charge, including: rolling paper, scales, baggies, and grinders.

    The other thing which should be stressed about these two charges, is the difference in the seriousness of the offenses. Believe it or not, in North Carolina, a Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana charge is NOT as serious as a Misdemeanor Possession of Paraphernalia charge. Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana is a level 3 offense where a Misdemeanor Possession of Paraphernalia is actually a level 1 offense. Depending on the Defendant's prior record level, the difference can be as much as 120 days in jail compared to 20 days. In most cases, a Defendant will not face that much jail time, this is especially true for first-time offenders, who will not face any jail time. Additionally, a good Criminal Attorney Raleigh should be able to negotiate a plea deal (assuming there are no facts worth trying) whereby the Defendant will face the Marijuana charge as oppose to the paraphernalia charge.

    If you have received a Marijuana charge, paraphernalia charge or any other North Carolina Drug Charge, speak with a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible so they can begin a case evaluation and determine what defenses you may have.

    Disclaimer - Information and advice offered in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is specific to North Carolina law. The viewing, receipt and/or exchange of information from this article does not constitute an Attorney-Client Relationship. For assistance regarding your particular legal question speak with an Attorney practicing in the field from which your questions derives.