The police stopped you for a routine traffic offense. When giving you the ticket, they noticed a marijuana bong on the seat of your car. Or maybe they frisked you and found a couple syringes in your pocket, and you don’t have a medical condition. Now you are under arrest.

Under Illinois law, a person who knowingly possesses drug paraphernalia with the intent of using or preparing drugs is guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum $750 fine. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 600/3.5.) The law does not apply to hypodermic syringes if you are authorized to have them under the Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act. (720 ILCS 635.) Drug paraphernalia is defined as all equipment, products and materials to be used in planting, growing, manufacturing, converting, testing, injecting, ingesting, packaging or using drugs, except for methamphetamines which is a separate offense.

If you sell your paraphernalia, you can be charged with a Class 4 Misdemeanor, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail and a $25,000 fine. Sell to a minor and it’s a Class 3 Misdemeanor punishable by 2 to 5 years. If the buyer is pregnant, you can face 3 to 7 years on a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Since the state must prove that you intended to use the paraphernalia to take or make drugs, simply owning a collection of bong pipes may not be enough to convict you. However, any drugs found near or residue on the paraphernalia can be used to show that you had the necessary illegal intent.

If you are charged with possessing paraphernalia, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with third parties or the police. Any statements you make can restrict your options in presenting a defense.

As with other criminal offenses, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can examine the evidence for holes in the state’s case. Was the search that revealed the paraphernalia legal? Can the state show that the paraphernalia was yours or that you meant to use it? Even if the state has more than enough evidence to convict you, an attorney can help negotiate a better plea agreement than you might do on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

Source: Illinois Drug Paraphernalia Law.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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