Being in possession of certain drugs, considered controlled substances, is illegal. The possession, sale and distribution of drugs are criminal acts that both state and federal law prohibit and the larger the amount of drugs that you have under your control, the more serious the criminal
charges you face. Unfortunately, you can not only be arrested and charged with a crime for actually being in possession of drugs, but you can also be arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. This means that it may be possible for you to face arrest and criminal prosecution simply by having a pipe under your control.
Drug Crimes in Minnesota
A pipe can be considered drug paraphernalia, depending upon the circumstances. A standard tobacco pipe, for example, would not cause you to be arrested since there is nothing illegal about smoking tobacco in a pipe. However, if you have a pipe on you that was used to smoke crack cocaine, marijuana or other controlled substances, then you could be arrested.
The police would need to be able to prove that you actually had the pipe under your control in order for you to be arrested and convicted of a crime. It is easiest to do this when the pipe is physically on your person, such as in your pocket. However, you could also be arrested for having a pipe in your glove compartment in your car or on your desk in your house as long as it was sufficiently clear that the pipe was yours.
Police also need to have lawful permission to conduct a search on you, otherwise the search may be considered an illegal search in violation of the protections found in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. If police ask to check your pockets or conduct a search, you do not necessarily have to agree to allow them to do so and they cannot legally search you without a warrant and/or reasonable cause to believe you have done something wrong. If you’ve been the victim of an illegal police search and a pipe was found, then you can usually keep the evidence from the illegal search out of court and avoid a conviction. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you to determine if you can argue a constitutional violation.
Responding to Drug Charges
While you can be arrested for having a pipe on you, the criminal offense is a minor misdemeanor. This means you usually will get just probation and no jail time for the crime. You may also be able to arrange a plea bargain or be able to enter into a first-time offender or diversion program in order to avoid having a criminal record of your arrest and conviction. Your criminal defense lawyer can help you to understand the best way to respond to being arrested for having a pipe on you so you can minimize any serious long-term consequences that a conviction might have on your future.