Recreational drugs are becoming more widespread and even legal for some adults, such as marijuana for people over the age of 21. Yet not all drugs are legal, and drug users can only possess small amounts.
Illegal drugs can lead to a criminal conviction and probation, as well as jail time, scaled by the severity of the offense. An Avondale drug lawyer can help you figure out the potential consequences of your charges and prepare your defense. Grand Canyon Law Group is a team of criminal defense attorneys, some of whom used to be prosecutors and know how they think about these cases.
Drug offenses generally fall into the categories of possession and sale and vary by the type of drug. So while possession of small amounts of marijuana is legal under Arizona Code § 36-2852, possession of any amount of cocaine is illegal and is a different class of felony than illegal possession of marijuana or another drug.
Both the possession and sale of drugs are non-violent offenses and generally range from a Class 2 felony to a Class 4 felony—with some offenses falling to a Class 6 felony, the sentences for which are laid out by Criminal Code Sentencing Provisions. While the sentencing provisions appear simple based on the offense, an Avondale drug lawyer can show how felonies fall into many categories and result in different penalties depending on the situation.
For a person with no prior felony convictions, a Class 2 felony can result in a minimum of 3 years in jail (if mitigating factors exist) to a maximum of 12.5 years (if aggravating factors exist), or 7 years of probation. On the lower end, a Class 4 felony can result in a minimum of 4 months to a maximum of 2 years, or only 3 years of probation.
State law defines different threshold amounts for different types of drugs, and those thresholds can redefine the legal consequences. For example, marijuana possession by adults over 21 is legal if the adult has less than one ounce. If that adult has more than one ounce—and less than the threshold amount (listed below)—the penalties would not be as severe as if the threshold was exceeded.
If a drug amount exceeds a threshold, then the convicted person loses the chance for a sentence suspension, parole, probation, pardon, or any other release until the full sentence has been served. The threshold amounts for several drugs also come from the Criminal Code Sentencing Provisions:
Threshold amounts also affect the penalties for repeat offenses, increasing sentences and changing probation. Second offenses are usually eligible for probation, but second offenses over the threshold amount lose that privilege. An increase in penalties could look like this: A third offense, Class 3 drug felony below the threshold amount has a minimum sentence of 1.8 years and a maximum of 8.7 years with no possibility of probation, but the same crime above the threshold amount has a minimum sentence of 2.5 years instead.
These sentencing tiers can confuse an alleged violator, especially as offenses for different drugs can fall into different felony classes. A lawyer familiar with drug offenses in Avondale can help figure out the ranges and increases based on the drug, prior felony convictions, and the possibility of probation.
Drug charges can lead to hefty jail sentences that can increase with multiple offenses. A conviction can lead to probation instead of jail, but the possibility of probation can disappear based on the amount of drugs present.
To make sense of Arizona’s varied drug penalties, speak with an Avondale drug lawyer about any charges you might face. The attorneys at the Grand Canyon Law Group can explain the consequences of a particular charge and how it might affect your chance for probation.