It's not just drugs themselves that are illegal in Alabama. Our state's criminal code also makes it illegal to possess drug paraphernalia, which is broadly defined as anything that can help a person produce, store, sell or use drugs. Alabamans are also prohibited from possessing anhydrous ammonia if they know or should know it will be used to make a controlled substance. And the state prohibits the possession or sale of "precursor chemicals" -- which include many common household items -- knowing that they will be used to unlawfully make a controlled substance. Similar restrictions exist under federal law.
If you've been arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia or drug ingredients, chances are that law enforcement isn't done investigating or charging you. These types of arrests are often a way to "get" a person who law enforcement believes -- but cannot prove -- is guilty of other drug-related crimes. You may be interrogated at length or asked to submit to searches despite a lack of evidence that you've committed drug crimes. Don't agree to any voluntary searches or any interrogations until experienced drug crime defense lawyer Steven Eversole is by your side.
Alabama Drug Paraphernalia Law
Under Alabama criminal law, it is illegal to possess or use drug paraphernalia -- anything that's used, intended for use or designed for use with drugs. That includes objects used in growing, manufacturing, processing, concealing or ingesting drugs. Because the law is so broad, and because it covers a variety of drugs, this means many common household items can be mistakenly swept up in the law, including cooking equipment, gardening tools, small containers and pipes intended for smoking tobacco. State law requires courts to decide whether something is paraphernalia by taking into account factors such as:
- Statements by the owner
- The existence and scope of non-narcotic uses of the object
- Any residue of controlled substances on the object
- Any prior convictions of the owner
- Packaging and instructions
- How the object is displayed or advertised
- Expert testimony
On first offense, possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor carrying up to a year in prison. Any subsequent offense is a Class C felony punishable by one to ten years in prison. Delivering paraphernalia to a minor who is at least three years younger than you is a Class B felony carrying 2 to 20 years.
Restrictions on Precursor Chemicals in Alabama
It is illegal in Alabama to possess anhydrous ammonia (the same kind of ammonia used in glass cleaners) and certain other chemicals or products that are considered ingredients or precursors to illegal drugs. Generally, enforcement of these laws focuses on ingredients in methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or speed, including:
- Cold medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine
- Drain cleaners
- Rat poison
- Paint thinner
- Acetone (sometimes found in nail polish remover)
- Propane fuel
Possession of any amount of these and other precursor chemicals is illegal, but only if the possessor intends or knows the chemical will be used to manufacture a controlled substance. For that reason, law enforcement frequently focuses on people who are buying an unusually large amount of these chemicals. Possession of a precursor chemical or anhydrous ammonia with intent to manufacture are Class B felonies carrying 2 to 20 years in prison. For retail establishments, selling precursor chemicals without following the restrictions and reporting requirements set down by law is also illegal. Violations range from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class C felony, depending on their seriousness.
Alabama Drug Ingredients and Paraphernalia Defense
Drug paraphernalia and ingredients are not drugs. But all too often, law enforcement behaves as if they are. Even if you aren't charged with a related drug crime, a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia, drug ingredients or precursor chemicals can still lead to years in prison, steep fines and a lifelong, permanent felony criminal record. If the charges are stacked on top of charges for drug possession, manufacture, sales or trafficking, you may lose your freedom for decades. With so much at stake, you need an experienced, aggressive criminal defender standing by your side.
Birmingham criminal defense lawyer Steven Eversole can help. He represents clients throughout Alabama who are facing drug paraphernalia or ingredient possession charges, including pharmacists and retailers charged with illegal sales of precursor chemicals. After taking a new client, he will always comb through the prosecution's case to look for mistakes, careless assumptions and violations of your civil rights that can get the charges dropped or substantially reduced. When that's not possible, he will negotiate with prosecutors to get clients alternative or reduced sentences or charges that are more appropriate for their situations. If the case goes to trial, he's prepared to vigorously defend you in court, using expert witnesses and other resources to force the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And because Steven Eversole never charges for an initial consultation, there's never any risk in meeting with him to learn about your legal rights and your options.
If you or someone you care about is accused of crimes related to drug paraphernalia, anhydrous ammonia or precursor chemicals, call Steven Eversole today at 1-866-831-5292, or in Birmingham, (205) 994-0616.