Types of Drug Offenses in Arizona
Drug crimes in Arizona run the gamut from misdemeanors to serious felonies, although most are felonies. And the penalties vary accordingly. A charge will be a function of a number of factors, including the conduct alleged, the particular drug involved, and the amount you are alleged to have possessed. The following sets forth how some drugs are treated under Arizona law:
- Prescription Drugs. Charges involving prescription-only drugs range from a class 2 misdemeanor (possession of a misbranded drug) to a class 4 felony (unauthorized sale). Charges often include related offenses such as prescription forgery.
- Illegal possession of even a small amount of marijuana could lead to a felony conviction. The classification and the potential penalties increase by the amount of marijuana, and by whether the charge is possession for sale, or production, sale, importation, or transportation.
- The penalties associated with narcotics offenses are severe. Possession of a small amount of a narcotic (including cocaine, heroin and others is a class 4 felony, and sale or transportation is a class 2 felony.
- Sale of meth is a class 2 felony, as is possession for sale. These offenses carry a mandatory prison sentence.
- Dangerous Drugs. This category includes such drugs as Xanax, Ecstasy, Valium, bath salts and others. Illegal possession, sale transportation and other offenses are felonies.
Additional rules apply with respect to certain drugs, such as peyote and nitrous oxide. Penalties can also be affected by numerous other factors, such as where the alleged offense took place (school zone); prior criminal history of the defendant; and whether the defendant qualifies for probation.
Alternatives to Jail or Prison for Drug Crimes
Since most drug crimes are felonies, they all carry, depending upon the circumstances, at least the possibility, and in many cases the likelihood, of incarceration. Under A.R.S. 13-901.01, however, mandatory probation may be a possibility, providing that you qualify under the terms of the statute. It applies, in the first instance, only to a first or second conviction for personal possession or use of a controlled substance (or drug paraphernalia). Additional factors, however, may affect your ability to take advantage of the law. For example, a conviction for a violent crime will make you ineligible, as will offenses involving methamphetamine, prior refusal of drug treatment as a term of probation, as well as a number of others.
Defending Drug Crimes in Phoenix, AZ
The drug laws are complicated. In addition to the complexities of the statutes themselves, many additional legal issues are often involved, such as illegal search and seizure (beginning in some cases with an unlawful traffic stop), entrapment, questions concerning actual or constructive possession, the accuracy of chemical tests, and others. Moreover, questions can and, in appropriate situations should be raised regarding chain of custody, missing evidence, duress, alleged confessions, and numerous other potential issues.
It is essential that your lawyer be fully familiar with all aspects of defending these types of charges, as well as how best to avoid incarceration if you enter a guilty plea or are found guilty.
Finding the right lawyer is the key to minimizing the damage of being charged with a drug crime. But it is also important that your attorney be by your side as early in the process as possible. So if you have been charged with a drug crime, or if you are under investigation, contact Feldman & Royle, Attorneys at Law today at 602-899-8000. We will provide you with an honest evaluation of your case, and the initial consultation is free.