Mesa Drug Penalties

Arizona has enacted a complicated set of laws to penalize the possession and distribution of drugs, trying to reduce the flow of drug traffic.

Mesa drug penalties can be extremely harsh, with mandatory minimum prison sentences in many cases. Contact our local drug defense attorneys TODAY when you are in trouble with the law. The potential consequences are too significant for you to take any chances on your defense.

Quantity and Type Determine the Severity of Charges

The drug laws are based on the type and quantity of illegal drugs someone possess. The statutes list scores of illegal drugs that could lead to possession or distribution charges.

Someone possessing an amount appropriate for personal use faces more lenient treatment than someone who possesses more than the threshold amount described in Arizona Revised Statute § 13-3401(36). When someone possesses more than the threshold amount of a specific drug, prosecutors assume they intend to sell, distribute, or traffic the drugs, and penalties are much harsher.

Most drug charges are felonies. Regardless of the sentence imposed, a felony conviction can limit a person’s choices and opportunities for a lifetime. Anyone facing drug penalties should work with our Mesa attorneys to resolve the matter with minimal long-term consequences, if possible.

Penalties That Avoid Incarceration

The state recognizes that many people who commit drug crimes have problems with substance misuse. The law offers alternative sentencing for most people who are convicted of possessing small quantities of drugs.


Arizona Statute § 13-901.01 requires a first- or second-time offender convicted of possessing paraphernalia or less than the threshold amount of an illegal drug to be sentenced to probation. An offender’s conditions of probation could include a drug assessment and treatment, community service, a requirement that the offender find a job to pay their probation fees, and other conditions a judge might impose.

Probation is available to offenders facing misdemeanor and felony charges. However, offenders convicted of charges involving methamphetamine are not eligible for probation. A judge cannot sentence someone to probation if they have been convicted of a violent crime or have refused probation or drug treatment in the past.

Drug Court

When an offender does not qualify for probation, drug court might be an attractive alternative. Drug court is open to people facing felony charges with no more than one prior felony conviction, but not to people charged with possession with intent to distribute or any crime involving a weapon.

An offender who applies for drug court and is accepted must engage in a rigorous program of drug treatment and counseling. They also must submit to frequent drug tests and report regularly to court to discuss their progress. Drug court allows an offender to receive treatment for substance abuse and get support for their sobriety. When an offender completes the program, their felony conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor.

Incarceration is Required for Some Drug Offenses

Arizona has a complex set of sentencing guidelines that judges must follow. The guidelines limit the judge’s discretion in many cases and sometimes require the judge to impose minimum prison sentences.

The sentences listed are for first offenders. People with prior convictions face substantially longer sentences. Our Mesa attorney could discuss the possible sentence an accused might face in a drug charge based on their specific circumstances.

Class 4 Felony Sentences

Possessing controlled substances and other dangerous drugs in less than threshold amounts is a Class 4 felony in most cases. If the offender has no prior convictions but is not eligible for probation, they face a presumptive sentence of two and half years in prison. If the judge finds mitigating circumstances, the sentence could be one year, and if the judge finds aggravating circumstances, the prison sentence could be as long as three years and nine months.

Class 3 Felony Sentences

Possessing the materials to manufacture a controlled substance is a Class 3 felony. The presumptive sentence for a first offender is three and half years, with a range from two years to eight years and nine months.

Class 2 Felony Sentences

Drug possession with intent to distribute, drug trafficking, and drug manufacturing are Class 2 felonies. The presumptive sentence is five years for a first offender, with a possible range of three years to 12 and a half years.

Contact a Mesa Attorney When You Face Drug Charges

Arizona law allows people convicted of possessing small quantities of drugs to serve their sentences on probation and get substance abuse treatment. However, anyone convicted of a more serious drug offense faces significant time in prison. Do not let this happen to you!

Working with our local attorneys can help you avoid the more severe Mesa drug penalties. Call today and talk with the team at Grand Canyon Law Group.

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