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New York Penal Code 220.55: Criminally using drug paraphernalia in the first degree

By Spodek Law Group | May 3, 2017
(Last Updated On: July 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 08:56 pm

New York Penal Law 220.55, or Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the First Degree, Is a class D felony. To be convicted, one must commit a crime of using drug paraphernalia in the second degree and have already been previously convicted of using drug paraphernalia in the second degree. This charge is usually, but not always, associated with another charge, such as using or selling drugs in the state of New York. Related drug paraphernalia is also against the law, and it is important for one0 to be in touch with a NYC criminal attorney if facing such a charge.

Being charged with using drug paraphernalia in the second degree requires the prosecutor to show that you possessed or sold various items with knowledge of their intended purpose. This can include diluents, dilutants, or adulterants used for altering the chemical compound of narcotics for sale or use. Drug paraphernalia that warrants a second-degree charge also includes any packaging products used for narcotics including capsules, vials, and glassine envelopes. Scales and balances used for measuring narcotics is another example of drug paraphernalia under the second-degree umbrella.

In order to face a charge, the prosecution must prove that the one in possession of these various types of paraphernalia knew they were used for the manufacture or sale of drugs.

There are several related offenses that are often seen in connection to NY Penal Code 220.55. The first is New York Penal Code 220.50: Criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree. As mentioned above, in order to be convicted of Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the First Degree, one must have already be convicted of 22.50. The second related charge is New York Penal Code 220.60: Criminal possession of precursors of controlled substances. It is possible to face charges of 220.55 and 220.60 concurrently. The third related offense is New York penal law 220.70: Criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the second degree. A conviction of 220.70 would result in the next related offense, New York Penal Law 220.71: Criminal possession of methamphetamine manufacturing material in the first degree.


If police entered one’s home with a legal search warrant and found a scale and a package of several dozen small Ziploc bags on the kitchen table, there would be an initial cause for alarm. However, the case would be furthered if upon continued search, police found a small box under one’s bed containing a narcotic substance, such as cocaine, inside several of the same Ziploc bags. Police could even measure out the small bags to be sure that each contained a specific quantity of cocaine. If the one in possession of the bags, scale, and cocaine had faced a previous conviction of criminally using during paraphernalia in the second degree, they would be arrested and charged with criminally using during paraphernalia in the first degree.


The major defense against New York Penal Law 220.55 is possession of the various drug paraphernalia mentioned above for a use other than narcotic sale or manufacturing. For instance, many of the items that are banned in the state of New York may have other uses. A scale or balance is perhaps the best example of this, whereby one may use either of these in the kitchen to measure food for cooking. In addition, the gel capsules that are often associated with the production of narcotics may also be used for the production of perfectly legal pills, such as vitamins and natural medicine. The defense could prove that the one in possession of these items had no intention to sell or produce narcotics.

are glass bongs illegal to carry with you? or can you get arrested

If you have a glass bong, one common question you may be wondering about is whether you’re legally able to carry it around in public, or if a police officer could arrest you for that.

There’s no simple yes or no answer, because whether you’re arrested will depend quite a bit on any substances in the bong, where you’re located and the officer who stops you. To play it safe, your best bet is to avoid openly carrying your glass bong around whenever possible.

Here’s what you need to know about the legality of glass bongs.

The Distinction Between Water Pipes and Drug Paraphernalia

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has a long list of items that it classifies as drug paraphernalia, and this list includes items that can be used to either make or consume illegal drugs. It’s not a black and white issue with every item, though, as certain items exist in a gray area where they could be considered either a legal item or drug paraphernalia, depending on the use. Glass bongs are one such item.

A glass bong is technically drug paraphernalia, which is why shops don’t refer to the item as such. Instead, they sell water pipes and indicate that the items are only intended for use with tobacco. It’s basically a loophole, as a glass bong and a water pipe are the same thing.

Now, could you use this as a defense if you were carrying around a glass bong? You could tell any police officer who stopped you that it’s a water pipe and you only use it to smoke tobacco. You’re within your rights to carry it around if that’s the case.

The two potential problems you can run into are whether there’s any marijuana resin in the pipe and if the officer fully understands drug paraphernalia laws or not.

If there is any marijuana resin in the pipe, then technically you’re carrying around drug paraphernalia.

Even if it’s a water pipe that hasn’t ever been near any marijuana, you could still end up under arrest if you run into an overzealous police officer. This obviously isn’t your fault and a good lawyer could likely get the case dismissed, but it’s a major inconvenience.

Penalties for Carrying a Glass Bong with You

The penalties for possession of a glass bong will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and the state you were in when the arrest occurred. Not every state has laws prohibiting possession of a glass bong, and if you’re in a state that doesn’t, you’re unlikely to be arrested for it. This kind of leniency is more common in states with relaxed marijuana laws.

Possession of a glass bong is typically considered a misdemeanor. If you’re found guilty or plead guilty, you’ll need to pay a fine. On a first offense, you may be able to get the charge taken off your record if you avoid committing any other crimes for a set period of time.

The penalties will increase on subsequent offenses. Another potential issue that can make your penalties worse is if you were in a school zone and carrying a glass bong around. Going across state lines can also be a bigger problem, because then you’re breaking a federal law by transporting drug paraphernalia from state to state.

With the complexities and confusion regarding drug paraphernalia laws, it’s a good idea to avoid carrying your glass bong around with you. If you decide to do it anyway, make sure it’s clean and doesn’t have any marijuana residue.

New York Penal Code 220.50: Criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree

All About The Charges
There are numerous elements that the prosecution needs to look at in order to charge someone with using drug paraphernalia in the second degree. The first is that the defendant has to knowingly understand that the actions are wrong. The defendant knowingly possesses and uses in a criminal manner drugs that are narcotics or cause the same impacts that narcotics would for the body. Stimulants are also included in the list of drugs that are considered to be paraphernalia. Second-degree use often consists of mixing and compounding drugs that are to be used by the defendant or someone else who intends to buy the drug or use it in the near future.

Capsules, gel caps, vials and other items that can be used for packaging narcotics or stimulants that are in the possession of the defendant will warrant a second-degree charge. The defendant could also have in possession scales or other tools that are used to measure or weigh the amount of the drug that will be used or sold. Second-degree drug use is considered a misdemeanor. While this is still a criminal charge, the defendant will likely see less time in jail or a lower fine than someone who has a first-degree charge.

It is important to understand that any drug use or possession is illegal no matter what the drug is and what the intended use for the drug would be when the defendant maintains possession. Most charges are given a second degree because of the type of drug involved or the amount of the drug that was in the possession of the defendant at the time of arrest.

When officers started searching a home because of a warrant that was issued, they believed that there would be drugs inside, which was the basis of the warrant being issued. The officers completed the search and found gel caps as well as other items that could be used for packaging narcotics or stimulants. The owner of the home was arrested and charged with second-degree drug paraphernalia usage.

Another example would be if someone is pulled over and has a set of scales in the car. The officer would question the defendant to find that there is a small amount of a narcotic in the car as well. This would warrant a further search of the vehicle and result in second-degree charges being filed as the defendant knowingly had the drugs and the items inside the vehicle.

One of the defenses that a NYC criminal attorney can use is that the defendant didn’t intend to use materials found for the use of drugs. While some items are clearly known for being used with drugs, the prosecution has to prove that it’s the reason as to why the defendant has them in the first place. Unless the drug is actually there as well, then this is difficult to show, and the charges would likely be dismissed. An attorney will often be able to show that the items that are used for drugs do have legitimate uses as well. This is usually how an attorney can get charges dropped, especially if there is no evidence of drugs being used with the paraphernalia. Some of the items that are used with drugs are also used to store food and other items in the home.

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