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Scottsdale law enforcement officers devote significant time and resources to reducing illegal drug activity, and prosecutors pursue these cases aggressively.
When you are facing any type of drug charge in Scottsdale, contact a local drug attorney immediately. Skilled legal representation from Grand Canyon Law Group can help you achieve the most favorable outcome possible in your case.
Arizona has complicated drug laws. It penalizes unlawful possession of all substances listed on the DEA’s schedule of controlled substances but distinguishes between possession of narcotics and other dangerous drugs.
Narcotics are drugs that could be used to treat a medical condition, even though they are no longer used for medicinal purposes. Cocaine and Vicodin are examples of narcotics. Dangerous drugs are substances with little or no medicinal value, strong addictive qualities, or both. Methamphetamine, LSD, and ecstasy are examples of dangerous drugs.
The severity of different types of drug charges depends on the quantity of the substance the accused allegedly possessed. Arizona Revised Statute § 13-3401(36) describes the threshold quantities for possessing various drugs. Exceeding the threshold amount leads to more severe charges. Other factors, such as whether the accused was in a drug-free school zone when the drugs were found, also influence the charge and penalty.
A Scottsdale attorney defending a drug charge could challenge the procedures the police used to collect, weigh, and identify the drugs. If there is doubt about the accuracy of the results, a prosecutor could reduce a charge or dismiss it entirely.
Possessing drugs under the threshold quantities for personal use is a Class 4 felony in most cases. The prosecutor must show the defendant knew the substance was an illegal drug and was in their possession.
Being found in possession of more than the threshold quantity of a drug could lead to charges of possession with intent to distribute, a Class 2 felony. Possessing the drug in the appropriate quantity triggers a presumption that the defendant plans to sell or give away the drugs. Someone could face possession with intent to distribute if they possessed less than the threshold quantity but had drug selling supplies like small baggies, scales, or large amounts of cash.
Drug trafficking is also a Class 2 felony and is typically the charge when someone transports or orders the transport of drugs from one place to another. Even driving with drugs in a bag could lead to trafficking charges. The drugs do not have to cross a state or international border to warrant a trafficking charge.
Possessing the materials to make a dangerous drug is illegal, even if the accused has no manufactured drugs in their possession. Possessing paraphernalia to make a prescription-only drug is a Class 1 misdemeanor; however, possessing the materials to manufacture a drug that appears on the DEA Schedule of controlled substances is a Class 3 felony. If someone actually manufactures the drugs, they could face a Class 2 felony charge.
Arizona decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2020. It is legal to possess up to an ounce of cannabis for personal use, and no more than five grams of concentrated marijuana. Someone caught with more than an ounce but less than two and half ounces can be cited for a non-criminal infraction. Larger quantities will still subject a person to criminal penalties.
Although possession of narcotics and dangerous drugs is a Class 4 felony, the law allows some non-violent offenders to avoid jail or prison. A convicted offender could receive probation if they have not had more than two prior drug possession convictions, have not committed any violent crimes, and their crime did not involve methamphetamine. Some offenders with drug addiction could enroll in a drug diversion program focusing on treatment and developing life skills to manage their addiction.
However, if someone convicted of a Class 4 felony drug possession charge does not complete their probation, they face a possible prison term. The presumptive sentence for a first offender upon conviction of a Class 4 felony is two and a half years. It could be as little as one year if a Scottsdale attorney could establish mitigating factors in this type of drug charge. With aggravating factors, a sentence could be as long as three years, nine months. If the offender has prior felony convictions, the presumptive sentence is four years and six months with one prior, and ten years with two or more priors.
Many drug crimes are Class 2 felonies. The presumptive sentence for a first offender is five years, but with mitigating factors could be as little as three years, and aggravating factors could extend a sentence to 12 years, six months.
Drug convictions can have a lifelong impact, limiting your opportunities for employment and housing, and endanger your immigration status. Do not try to combat a drug charge without assistance from a seasoned drug lawyer with experience as a former prosecutor.