If you get indicted on drug crime charges in Arizona, you could be facing serious penalties. The state has many drug-related laws in place to discourage the possession, use and sale of illegal drugs or controlled substances. Many of these crimes are considered felonies in Arizona. The more you know about drug crimes in Arizona, the easier it can be to protect yourself if you are arrested for an alleged drug crime. If you are looking for more information on crime statistics in Arizona, the attorneys at AZ Defenders recently conducted a study you can use as a resource.
Drug Possession Laws in Arizona
In Arizona, it is against the law to illegally possess or use a controlled substance without a prescription. A “controlled substance” is one that is regulated by the government, such as opioids, depressants or stimulants. If law enforcement finds you under the influence of a controlled substance or with drugs on your person or in your home or vehicle, you can be charged with felony drug possession.
Controlled substances in Arizona are classified into six groups:
- Narcotic drugs
- Substances that release toxic vapors
- Prescription drugs
- Dangerous drugs
The type of charge will depend on the substance possessed or used and whether you are being charged with simple possession or possession with intent to sell. Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 13-3401 to 13-3421 has a detailed breakdown of the state’s drug laws. It defines each type of illicit substance and the penalties associated with the possession or use of that drug. These penalties can vary according to the circumstances of the alleged crime and the defendant’s criminal history.
Burden of Proof
If you get arrested on suspicion of committing a drug crime in Arizona, the prosecution has the burden of proof. This means it is the prosecutor’s job to establish that you committed the crime with proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Proving a drug crime case requires evidence that you knowingly possessed a narcotic drug. The prosecutor must show that you were aware or knew that you possessed the substance and that the substance at issue was actually a narcotic drug. This requires the need for testing and scientific testimony.
Drug Sentencing Laws in Arizona
The criminal sentence for a drug crime is based largely on the class of the controlled substance and the amount of the substance found in the defendant’s possession. A large amount of a prohibited narcotic found on your person or near you can be considered “presumptive of sales.” This can result in a mandatory prison term if you are convicted, even if it is your first offense and there is no evidence of actual sales. The threshold level for a controlled dangerous substance depends on the drug.
A conviction for first-offense possession of less than two pounds of marijuana but more than what is now legal to possess under Proposition 207 can result in up to 5.75 years in prison and/or a fine of $2,000 or three times the value of the marijuana, whichever is higher. A conviction for a dangerous drug can be charged as a class 4 felony, which could potentially be reduced to a class 1 misdemeanor. The sentence for this crime can include 1 to 3.75 years in prison and/or a fine.
Click here – In New York State, Who Is at Fault After a Car Accident?
Do I Need a Drug Crimes Attorney or Can I Solve This on My Own?
An experienced drug crimes defense attorney in Phoenix can build the strongest possible argument in your defense. Examples of potential defenses are wrong defendant, the substance seized was not a controlled substance, the police conducted an illegal search and seizure or violated other constitutional rights, or that you had a prescription or were in legal possession of the drug.
Since you could be facing severe penalties as a drug crime defendant in Arizona, do not risk your future by representing yourself. Retain a private defense attorney to fight for a positive outcome on your behalf. Your lawyer will use smart legal strategies and aggressive negotiation tactics to protect your rights and future. To learn more about drug crimes and how to defend against them if you’ve been arrested, contact AZ Defenders for a free case consultation with an attorney.