Although possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use was recently legalized in Arizona, the law still allows harsh punishments for possessing large quantities of marijuana or any amount of another controlled substance. Depending on the circumstances, this type of offense can be treated as a minor misdemeanor or prosecuted as a high-level felony punishable by several years of imprisonment, even for a first-time offender.
Understanding what sanctions you could face after a substance-related conviction can be key to determining an effective defense strategy in your case. Here is a brief primer on Phoenix drug penalties work and the impact of different mitigating or aggravating factors. Reach out to the experienced lawyers at Grand Canyon Law Group for more information.
Arizona state law divides controlled substances into six categories: narcotic drugs, dangerous drugs, prescription drugs, substances emitting toxic vapors, marijuana, and peyote. The category of substance can significantly affect the severity of sanctions for possessing, distributing, transporting, or intending to sell that drug.
For example, possession of peyote can technically be prosecuted as a Class 6 felony. Still, the charges can be dropped at the court’s discretion if the defendant shows they used the substance for religious purposes and did not pose any threat to other people. Conversely, Arizona Revised Statute §13-3408 classifies offenses involving narcotic drugs as anywhere from Class 4 felonies to Class 2 felonies, depending on what the defendant was accused of doing.
A.R.S. §13-3419 defines unique sentencing ranges for people convicted of repeat drug offenses. Most notably, the penalties for drug possession charges in Phoenix increase for third and subsequent convictions if the defendant was found possessing above the “threshold amount” established under state law.
A.R.S. §13-901.01 sets out special rules for courts when deciding on penalties for someone convicted of drug possession solely for personal use. The court must suspend any jail or prison term and place the defendant on probation unless they refuse probation, refuse drug treatment as a term of probation, or have three or more convictions for this offense.
Courts can and usually do require participation in drug treatment or education for someone on probation for a drug possession conviction. They have the authority to order more intensive treatment, house arrest, community restitution, and other sanctions for anyone found violating their probation or convicted of a second drug possession offense. This alternative to traditional drug penalties in Phoenix is unavailable to individuals convicted of possessing methamphetamine for personal use.
Given the number and complexity of factors that can affect the outcome of a criminal case involving drug crimes, it is crucial to discuss your specific circumstances with legal counsel. A skilled attorney can explain the range of applicable penalties in your case and help you understand the repercussions of a conviction.
Discuss Phoenix drug penalties with a seasoned lawyer from our firm. At Grand Canyon Law Group, we are prepared to build an effective defense to minimize the consequences you face and protect your way of life. Call us today to get started on your case.