According to Arizona’s Department of Public Safety, Arizona arrests thousands of individuals per year on drug related charges.
Those who are found guilty of drug related crimes face the heavy hand of the law, especially in a state where the consequences of such convictions are high.
To protect yourself and your rights, it can be extremely useful to understand Arizona’s possession charges, their punishments, and possible defenses that your attorney may raise in order to mitigate or defeat the charges.
What Classifies as a Controlled Dangerous Substance?
Under Arizona Revised Statute 13-3401, Arizona divides drugs into six categories:
• Prescription Drugs
• Substances that release toxic vapors
• Dangerous Drugs (meth, salts, optimal isomers)
In addition to these six categories, persons who are in possession of the compounds that can be used to make the above drugs can also be prosecuted under Arizona Revised Statute 13-3408.
The penalties involved for possessing substances used to manufacture drugs is detailed in section (F) and indicate that the violator will be required of paying a fine of not less than $2,000 or “three times the value as determined by the court of the narcotic drugs involved in or giving rise to the charge, whichever is greater.”
Possession of a Dangerous Drug
Possession of a dangerous drug is a very serious offense that comes with severe consequences.
Under Arizona Revised Statue 13-3407, a person is prohibited from knowingly possessing, using, manufacturing, transporting, selling, or distributing the dangerous drug.
Dangerous drugs include substances such as methamphetamines, salts, and optimal isomers.
Those who are found to be in possession of a dangerous drug are guilty of a class 4 felony.
However, if the drug in possession is not lysergic acid diethylamide, meth, amphetamine, or phencyclidine or the person was not previously convicted of a felony under this section or section 13-3408, your drug defense attorney may be able to motion the state to reduce the charge to a class one misdemeanor with probation.
Those who are charged under a class four felony face the maximum punishment of 3.75 years in prison, probation for up to four years, and a fine of $150,000 with surcharges.
On the other hand, if your charge is reduced to a class four misdemeanor, you can face a reduced sentence of up to six months in jail, a maximum of five years probation, and a $2,500 surcharge.
Possession of Marijuana
Since the legalization of medical marijuana, the issue of marijuana possession has become significantly blurry.
Under Arizona Revised Statute 13-3405, “A person shall not knowingly possess or use marijuana.” Possession of marijuana also includes transportation, distribution, and manufacture of the substance.
The criminal consequences of possessing marijuana depend on a number of factors.
These factors include how much marijuana you
were in possession of and whether or not you have any repeat offenses.
For instance, under the statute, if you are in possession of less than two pounds of marijuana, you can be charged with a class six felony.
On the other hand, if you are possession of four pounds, then you can be charged with a class four felony.
In terms of marijuana, your lawyer may try to persuade the State to allowed “deferred prosecution.”
Deferred prosecution applies if you are a first time offender and you are willing to enter into an agreement with the state.
The agreement requires you to fulfill a number of conditions and, if you successfully complete the terms, the charges against you may be dropped.
Driving Under the Influence
Under Arizona Revised Statute 28-1381, it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or a vapor containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs, or a toxic substance.
This type of violation is known as a “zero-tolerance” violation.
Essentially, if the officer has reasonable suspicion that you are driving with even the slightest trace of a drug, the officer can stop and arrest you. Since this is a driving offense related to drugs, you will be charged under Arizona’s DUI laws.
If you are found guilty of the violation, you face a class 1 misdemeanor.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that aside from the DUI charge, you may also face other drug-related charges.
To mitigate or absolve you of your charges, your defense lawyer can raise a few defenses.
The most common defense is that you did not knowingly possess a dangerous drug.
For example, you may not have known that the substance was a drug.
In terms of manufacture, it could have been the case that you were living in a residence but were unaware that your co-tenant was manufacturing illegal substances.
Another possible defense is to raise a constitutional fourth amendment violation.
For example, an unlawful search and seizure may have taken place or you may not have been read your Miranda rights.
In addition, the drugs could have belonged to someone else, there may have been issues with the crime lab, the drugs could have been placed in your vicinity or person by someone else, or you may have been the victim of entrapment.
An attorney with years of experience in the field is fully aware of the possible defenses and is able to protect you and your rights from unlawful incrimination.
Being charged with a drug related crime is a serious matter, as you are being prosecuted under the criminal system.
If found guilty, not only can you face jail time and fines, but you’ll also have a criminal record.
To ensure that you receive the justice that you deserve, a criminal defense attorney is necessary.
With a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, the proper defenses to protect your interests can be raised, thus helping to reduce your charges or to clear them altogether.