Drug Possession Charges in Arizona
Drug possession charges certainly sound like a simple idea. In Arizona, however, it can rapidly get very complicated. The crime of “simple possession” means that you had illegal drugs for personal use. In most instances, that’s a relatively minor offense. It’s a very different story when the drugs were going to be sold to other people, though; that’s considerably more serious and draws much heavier potential penalties. The penalties for possession span a wide range from misdemeanors to serious felonies which involve lengthy prison sentences.
Many cases of possession of illegal drugs also allow the state to charge related offenses, most commonly the possession of “paraphernalia” associated with the use of the drug involved, which are made separate crimes under Arizona’s laws.
The Type and Quantity of Drug Matters
Arizona has created several basic categories of drugs for purposes of classifying offenses and penalties:
Some other specific drugs are addressed separately.
The laws also specifically assign different levels of severity to the offense based on the amount of the drug that the defendant possessed.
Other Indications of Intent to Sell
There are numerous facts other than the amount of the drug involved that may be considered to have some bearing on whether the defendant possessed illegal drugs for personal use or for sale. Other evidence that may bear on the personal use versus sale distinction may include:
- Large amount of cash found on the defendant or under his control, for which there is no good explanation
- The presence or absence of the kinds of equipment usually associated with sale of the type of drug involved (bags for packaging, scales for weighing, etc.)
Experienced defense attorneys know how to deal with these facts, and anticipate how the prosecutor will try to spin them.
You may also be charged with a federal crime if the drugs were taken across state or international boundaries, or if “interstate” mechanisms were used to facilitate any aspect of the drug transaction (making arrangements and deals by mail, e-mail, etc.). The addition of federal charges complicates the case, and magnifies the importance of getting immediate, experienced legal help. There are then two sets of laws to analyze and defend, and the prosecution has the services of federal investigative agencies to help make the case against you.
Defending the Possession Case
Defending possession cases requires in-depth understanding of Arizona’s laws, the likely impact of the various facts of the case and how the prosecutors go about building their case. For example, you aren’t guilty of possession if you never knew the drugs were there, but prosecutors don’t usually have much incentive to investigate that angle of the case until the defense attorney gives them good reason. And there are several ways that innocent people end up in “possession” of drugs without ever knowing it, including:
- People you know can use your property—a vehicle, a tool box, a cabinet in your home—as hiding places for their drugs
- You may be tricked into driving a vehicle that the owner knows contains drugs
- Co-workers may hide drugs in your work area
Some cases involve improper actions by the police or by the prosecutors. Examples of these defenses include:
- Failure to adequately inform you about your right to remain silent and to consult an attorney
- Not living up to the legal requirements for detaining you and bringing you to trial
- Lack of probable cause for the police search that found the drugs
- Search warrants that are invalid
Help for Drug Possession in the Phoenix/Scottsdale Area
Get the legal help you need to get the best result possible by calling attorney Howard A, Snader. Howard has the in-depth understanding that comes from having been a Maricopa County prosecutor before he began the exclusive practice of criminal defense work 25 years ago. He carries the highest rating by his peers, and is a certified specialist in criminal law. Don’t settle for less when your reputation and future are on the line. If you’re facing prosecution for a drug offense anywhere in Arizona, call Howard Snader and get him working on your defense the right way.