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Arizona Drug Paraphernalia Laws

Found with a pipe in your pocket during a routine traffic stop? You could be facing a felony drug charge. In Arizona, almost any item can be classified as drug paraphernalia. The law is broadly written and covers a range of objects, from typical household items, like a spoon, to novelty items found in specialty stores.

So you may wonder when your kitchen spoon can be considered paraphernalia. The line between legal and illegal is drawn based on the intent of the person possessing the object. A spoon found in your lunch bag is not an issue. If it’s found near illegal drugs or other paraphernalia, that same spoon can be considered an illegal object. Let’s take a closer look at what is involved with a drug paraphernalia possession charge and the punishments imposed for a convicted.

Overview of Arizona Drug Paraphernalia Laws

Arizona criminalizes several offenses within its law, including the possession, distribution or advertising of drug paraphernalia. Most of these crimes are considered a class 6 felony. The following chart provides a general overview of the elements, defenses, and penalties related to a criminal charge involving drug paraphernalia:

Arizona Statute

Statutory Definitions

  • Drug Paraphernalia: All equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a drug in violation of this “section of the law”.
  • Illegal Actions: deliver, possess with intent to deliver, or manufacture with intent to deliver, drug paraphernalia, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that it will be used” by someone for any of the above listed things.

Penalties and Sentences

  • 1st or 2nd Non-Violent Offense: Diversion programs and/or suspended sentence.
  • 1st or 2nd Offense (not qualified for diversion): Up to 2 years in jail, fines and informal probation.
  • 3 or more offenses: Up to 6 years in jail, fines and informal probation.


  • Insufficient Evidence: means that the prosecutor can’t prove the criminal case because there is not enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Mistake of Fact: Defendant asserts the mistaken belief prevents proving the accused had the required intent to commit the offense.
  • Entrapment: Entrapment can exist when a defendant was coaxed into committing a crime by an officer. This type of defense is difficult to prove.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. It’s important to verify the laws you’re researching by conducting your own research or consulting with a qualified Arizona criminal defense attorney.

Defining Paraphernalia in Arizona

Any instrument or item used in close connection with illegal drugs can be considered paraphernalia. Simply possessing such an item is enough for a drug paraphernalia charge. In determining whether a spoon is just a spoon, or drug paraphernalia, a court considers all logically relevant factors, including:

  1. Statements by an owner or by anyone in control of the object concerning its use.
  2. Prior convictions, if any, of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, under any state or federal law relating to any drug.
  3. The proximity of the object, in time and space, to other prohibited items.
  4. The proximity of the object to drugs.
  5. The existence of any residue of drugs on the object.
  6. Direct or circumstantial evidence of the intent of an owner, or of anyone in control of the object, to deliver it to persons whom he knows, or should reasonably know, intend to use the object to facilitate a violation of this chapter.
  7. Expert testimony concerning its use.

Factors the State Must Prove Against You

Arizona law makes it illegal to possess anything that allows one to use, prepare, plant or do a number of other things related to drugs. A conviction for the crime of possession of drug paraphernalia requires the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did each of the following:

  • Used, or possessed with the intent to use, drug paraphernalia to conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, plant, propagate, cultivate, compound, pack, store, contain an illegal drug.
  • The item was drug paraphernalia as defined by the statute.

Penalties for Paraphernalia Possession

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a class 6 felony. Although this is the lowest form of felony charge, it is punishable by up to 2 years in prison if the defendant has no prior criminal convictions. With a prior criminal conviction, the defendant can be sentenced up to 6 years in prison.

First-time and low-level drug offenders are frequently able to benefit from “out-of-custody” sentencing options. Many Arizona counties have drug diversion programs, that provide a drug monitoring program that lasts three to six months.

After the passage of Proposition 200 (A.R.S. §13-901.01) a defendant with a first or second nonviolent possession or paraphernalia conviction, can avoid jail and sentenced to probation only. However, if the terms of probation are violated, the defendant can be taken into custody until the judge reinstates the terms of probation.

Research the Law

Related Resources

Charged under Arizona Drug Paraphernalia Laws? Get Legal Help

Criminal charges for possession of drug paraphernalia can carry significant fines and exposure to jail time. Offenders who don’t fall under the Proposition 200 protections can face a jail sentence of up to one year for a first-time felony, or longer for those with multiple felony convictions. If you've been charged with a drug crime in Arizona, consider contacting an experienced drug crime lawyer in your area to learn more about your legal rights.

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