If you have been charged with a count of drug possession in Phoenix, you understand the seriousness of the offense. Arizona drug laws have become more severe over the years in order to combat the rising amount of border violence linked to drug trafficking. However, it is important to keep in mind that an arrest does not equal a conviction, and regardless of the offense, we have an opportunity to keep it off your record with the assistance of an experienced Phoenix drug possession attorney.
Drug possession offenses in Arizona cover a wide range of drug types and punishment ranges. Most drug offenses are harshly punished as legislators have begun to tackle a rising drug problem within the state. As a result, even a small amount of drugs found on your possession has the potential to drastically impact your future.
Drug possession charges can be based on federal or state law, and each comes with a different set amount of punishments and penalties. Trafficking drugs between states is a federal crime and tend to include heightened fines and longer punishments unless the accusations are disputed by a Phoenix federal crimes lawyer.
Aside from solely possessing a drug, drug possession offenses can include the following:
Drug possession charges can usually be tacked onto other drug crimes which in turn lead to heightened punishments unless they are contested with the help of a Phoenix drug crimes attorney, and may even lead to federal charges if the drugs have crossed state or international lines.
Arizona has some of the toughest drug laws on record due to its proximity to the Mexican border. These laws to prevent drug trafficking across borders include the sale, use, and possession of: marijuana, crystal meth, cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin. Legislators and politicians have tried to combat the drug problems by instilling severe penalties for even first time offenses in small quantities. For example, if you are arrested with even a small amount of marijuana found in your possession, you will face felony charges. Felony charges involve years in prison and heightened fines.
Phoenix is, unfortunately, one of the stops of the drug trade from Mexico to the United States and has led the state to develop stricter laws to tackle the drug problem head-on. These laws did not account for first time offenders who may have experimented one time, or maybe unintentionally had a friend’s drugs in their car. These laws leave little wiggle room, but an experienced Phoenix criminal attorney will be able to develop a successful defense strategy to protect their clients.
Punishment for drug possession will vary depending on the gravity of the offense, amount on your person, and criminal history. Possession charges may fall under both state and federal laws. Generally, there are two types of drug possession: simple possession, and possession with intent to sell.
Simple possession assumes that drugs found in your possession are for personal consumption. In Arizona, there are “threshold levels” that distinguish between simple possession and intent to sell. The intent to sell amount in Arizona is a weight, market value, or measure of an unlawful substance, including:
Penalties for Arizona drug charges pertain to Title 13, Chapter 34, Sections 3401-3421 of Arizona’s revised statutes. Under these laws:
Possession with intent to sell carries higher penalties and constitutes a felony offense. You may face these charges if you have a substance in excess of the threshold listed above, though the prosecution may use other evidence, such as the presence of scales, to pursue felony possession with intent to sell charges. Possession with intent to sell is a Class 4 felony, which can lead to 3.75 years for multiple offenses. You may also face additional fines and penalties – up to $100,000 or more.
Under Proposition 200, judges may no longer send first or second-time offenders to prison until they face their third conviction. Today, most drug offenders complete a standard probation term and undergo a mandatory drug treatment program. However, you may still face jail time if you violate the terms of your probation.
Additionally, conviction of a drug-related offense can lead to a loss of public benefits. These include scholarships and tuition waivers, access to public housing, and other subsidies such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
All crimes, including drug possession, require a high burden of proof – a jury must be certain beyond a reasonable double that the following two statements are true:
It’s not enough, for example, to be in the same room as a dangerous or narcotic drug. Evidence must link you to the drug, such that you knew about its existence. A prosecutor must also show that you had control over the drug.
The prosecution must also establish that the substance recovered from your person was indeed dangerous or a narcotic – for example, it’s an established, scheduled drug by the DEA. This often requires scientific testing from a forensic scientist, who must testify in court about his or her findings.
If a prosecutor cannot provide evidence of these things beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot face a conviction for possession. Your criminal defense attorney will work to mount a defense on your behalf, whether it’s lack of knowledge, illegal search, and seizure, or even entrapment. If you’re facing possession charges, contact Phoenix criminal defense attorney Craig Orent to discuss your legal options today.
If you have been arrested for drug possession, do not hesitate to contact the Orent Law Offices. Craig Orent, a renowned Phoenix drug possession attorney, has over 30 years of experience in handling drug possession cases and understands the severity that Arizona’s drug laws bring. He works tirelessly to ensure that his clients do not face these penalties and develops defense strategies to protect his clients from years in prison.