Phoenix Drug Crime Lawyer

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Phoenix Drug Crime Attorney

Being charged with a drug-related criminal offense can be a life-altering and confusing experience. Depending on the substance, amount, and actions involved in the allegations, the specific state statute you may be charged under can vary drastically. Another person in similar circumstances might be prosecuted differently.

Every drug case is different. Some of our clients facing drug charges have been falsely accused, while others have gotten in trouble over occasional drug use. Meanwhile, others are dealing with addiction issues and are repeat offenders. Regardless of the nature of your charges, we are here to help.

Guidance from a skilled drug defense lawyer is the best way to move forward in these situations. Grand Canyon Law Group can explain the nature of your drug charges in Phoenix and help fight them both in and out of court. With that in mind, here is some basic information about how state law differentiates between different kinds of drug offenses, as well as what amounts of certain substances can lead to more severe charges.

At Grand Canyon Law Group, we are committed to protecting the rights of those facing drug charges. If you or a loved one is facing charges for possession, distribution, or other drug-related offense, our dedicated attorneys can help. Get in touch with a Phoenix drug lawyer today to get started.

DRUG CLASSIFICATIONS IN PHOENIX

Drugs are classified into three categories in the state of Arizona:

  • Dangerous drugs, such as LSD, methamphetamine, or ecstasy
  • Narcotics, such as heroin, oxycodone, or cocaine
  • Marijuana, including flower or concentrate

Drug charges can vary greatly based on the classification of the drug involved. A drug lawyer can provide more information about the specific classification of drugs that you have been charged with and the penalties associated with it.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF DRUG POSSESSION CHARGES IN PHOENIX

Federal law divides controlled substances into one of five “schedules” based on the perceived dangers of abuse and the number of legitimate medical uses of each substance. On the other hand, Arizona state law categorizes most controlled substances as “narcotic drugs” or “dangerous drugs.” State law also separates marijuana, peyote, prescription drugs, and inhalants into distinct categories. Each has unique sentencing ranges and penalty structures for possession charges, which our experienced local attorneys can further explain.

These categories of controlled substances and the criminal classifications assigned to different actions involving them are defined in Arizona Revised Statute §13-3402 through 13-3408. More specifically, the following statutes address different substances:

  • Peyote – A.R.S. §13-3402
  • Inhalants – A.R.S. §13-3403
  • Precursor substances and other regulated chemicals – A.R.S. §13-3404
  • Marijuana – A.R.S. §13-3405
  • Prescription drugs – A.R.S. §13-3406
  • Dangerous drugs – A.R.S. §13-3407
  • Narcotic drugs – A.R.S. §13-3408

“Serious drug offenders” who have demonstrated a pattern of selling and distributing as part of a criminal enterprise or a significant part of their income may be prosecuted harshly under A.R.S. §13-3410. Unique sentencing ranges for repeat offenders are outlined in A.R.S. §13-3419. The seasoned lawyers at our Phoenix office could further explain these drug charges during a confidential consultation.

WHAT ARE “THRESHOLD AMOUNTS” FOR DRUG CHARGES?

Another important thing to understand about how Arizona state law defines drug charges is the “threshold amounts” for certain controlled substances. As per A.R.S. §13-3420, if someone is found in possession of a controlled substance equal to or greater than the threshold amount, the legal system can presume intent to distribute even without any other evidence supporting that presumption.

The threshold amounts for Phoenix drug charges, as defined in subsection 36 of A.R.S. §13-3401, are as follows:

  • One-half milliliter—or fifty dosage units—of LSD
  • 750 milligrams of hydrolyzed cocaine or cocaine base
  • One gram of heroin
  • Four grams—or 50 milliliters—of PCP
  • Nine grams of cocaine, fentanyl, amphetamine, or methamphetamine
  • Two pounds of marijuana

Additionally, any amount of a controlled substance not listed under the statute valued at $1,000 or more can be treated as a “threshold amount,” which can justify charges for intent to distribute.

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES FOR DRUG CHARGES IN PHOENIX

Most drug offenses, including simple possession, are classified as felonies. These carry much more severe consequences than misdemeanor offenses. Some of the considerations when the judge is determining what sentence to impose for a drug-related conviction include whether the defendant is a prior offender, whether a child was involved in the alleged incident, and the quantity and type of substance that was involved.

A Class 1 misdemeanor drug conviction (such as a prescription drug manufacturing without an appropriate license), with no previous charges, could result in up to six months in jail, three years on probation, and a fine of $2,500. A more severe charge, such as Dangerous Drug Possession (a Class 4 felony,) could result in up to eight years in jail.

Individuals who are charged with offenses involving drugs are often facing multiple charges for the same incident. This can result in harsher penalties if the individual is convicted on all charges. Working with an experienced Phoenix attorney can give those facing multiple drug charges a better chance at a favorable outcome.

SHORT-TERM CONSEQUENCES FOR A DRUG ARREST

Once a drug case starts in court, the judge may establish release conditions for the defendant. These could include submitting to drug tests, checking in with pretrial services, and reporting to certain places. The defendant may be monitored within the community and face restrictions on their freedom of travel.

Additionally, if their employer learns they have been charged with a drug offense, they may be suspended from work. They could even lose their job before the case is adjudicated. For example, a licensed professional like a doctor or a nurse must report the charge to the governing board and let them know the case is pending. The board may suspend their ability to practice until the case is concluded. Even before the case concludes, there are many potential consequences to drug charges, which our local attorneys could help navigate.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR DRUG POSSESSION

Anyone found in possession of an illegal drug will likely be charged with a felony. In some instances, the state will allow a first-time offender to enter a diversion program and avoid having a permanent criminal record. The defendant may face severe criminal consequences for the possession of large quantities, drug sale charges, or repeat offenses.

The most important factors in determining the severity of penalties for a drug charge include:

  • The quantity of the drug possessed
  • Whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that the defendant possessed it for sale
  • Whether the defendant has previous felony convictions

A conviction on drug charges could result in penalties ranging from probation and mandatory rehabilitation to hefty fines and years in prison.

THE IMPACT OF DRUG CHARGES ON A CRIMINAL RECORD

When a drug charge is initially filed with the court, it will appear on the defendant’s record. The record will show that a case is pending in municipal, justice, or superior court.

Drug convictions will appear in any background checks. This can impact a person’s ability to obtain a job, housing, or public benefits. It can also prevent them from getting student loans, being admitted into school, or obtaining certain professional licenses. It is crucial for those facing drug charges in Phoenix to work with an experienced lawyer who can help avoid the many collateral consequences of a conviction.

PHOENIX DRUG PENALTIES

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.

FACTORS DETERMINING THE SEVERITY OF DRUG PENALTIES

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 possessingdistributingtransporting, 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.

SPECIAL RULES FOR DRUG CHARGES INVOLVING PERSONAL USE

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.

CONSULT A PHOENIX ATTORNEY ON POTENTIAL DRUG PENALTIES IN YOUR CASE

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.

WHAT QUALIFIES AS AN ILLEGAL SUBSTANCE?

In Phoenix, possessing or using certain regulated drugs is against the law. Many substances fall under this category, such as street drugs and their derivatives, narcotics, and even some prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Additionally, a person could face charges for possessing paraphernalia to use those substances or precursor chemicals to make them.

The type of substance involved in your case can significantly impact the severity of charges and penalties you face.

Illegal substances in Phoenix include standard street drugs, any derivatives, narcotics, and different types of narcotic and dangerous drugs, such as:

  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Fentanyl
  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • LSD

PROSECUTION FOR USING OR POSSESSING DIFFERENT DRUGS

Because of a voted proposition in Arizona called Prop 200, first or second-time offenses for the personal use of most drugs must be dealt with through probation. This means a defendant generally cannot go to prison for their first two convictions on simple drug possession charges.

However, the possession, use, or sale of certain drugs are penalized more harshly than others. For instance, a conviction for selling methamphetamine has a much harsher sentencing range than selling cocaine, heroin, or fentanyl. This is due to Arizona legislature that removed methamphetamines from the mandatory probation situation if the person possessed it for personal use. The same legislature also enacted enhanced penalties for the sale of methamphetamine. Possession of large quantities of drugs like heroin, cocaine, or fentanyl is also prosecuted harshly in Phoenix and throughout Arizona, as our attorneys can attest.

COMMON SUBSTANCES IN PHOENIX DRUG CASES

Our local drug lawyers handle many cases involving possession of heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. Recently, there has been a huge increase in fentanyl cases. The Phoenix area sees many drug transport crimes and drug busts for large quantities of methamphetamines, fentanyl, and heroin coming across the US-Mexico border in Arizona.

In response, Phoenix law enforcement officers have been trying to crack down on drug-related offenses, especially those involving fentanyl possession. Any type of drug charge may be prosecuted harshly and can lead to significant penalties, making it essential for defendants to seek legal counsel from a seasoned attorney at Grand Canyon Law Group.

If you are accused of possessing or selling any type of illegal drug in Phoenix, you need skilled representation to protect your rights and future. Certain substances are prosecuted more harshly than others, and the type of drug involved in your case will impact the potential penalties you face upon conviction.

LEGAL PROCESS FOR DRUG CASES IN PHOENIX

Arizona prosecutes and has statutes to address all types of drugs, from marijuana to narcotic and dangerous drugs. Mere possession of an illegal drug, no matter what it is, can lead to charges. Possessing prescription medication without a prescription is a violation of the law, as is possessing drug paraphernalia with intent to use it. Some of the most severe charges allege the possession of drugs or prescription medication for sale.

No matter the charge you face, you need representation from someone who understands the legal process for drug cases in Phoenix. At Grand Canyon Law Group, our dedicated attorneys have the experience and expertise necessary to help you resolve your case favorably.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I AM CHARGED WITH A DRUG OFFENSE?

A couple of things could happen when a person is charged with a drug offense. After a traffic stop, the officer could release them from the scene and have charges filed later. This could result in a summons to appear in court.

Behind the scenes, the officer will typically need to have the substance tested by a lab to determine the type and quantity of the drug. In other cases, officers may arrest, book, and charge the person immediately. This is more typical in drug sales cases or other serious charges. A Phoenix lawyer could further explain these early stages in the drug prosecution process.

FILING SUBSTANCE-RELATED CHARGES IN PHOENIX

At the misdemeanor level, like in drug paraphernalia cases, the police will file the charges. Minor offenses will be charged as misdemeanors in the municipalities or Justice Courts. In these circumstances, the police officer files a short-form complaint with the Municipal Court.

For more serious charges, the deputy county attorney is responsible for filing a long-form criminal complaint with whichever court has jurisdiction over the situation. Police officers typically file misdemeanor complaints, while prosecutors file for felonies.

When a charge is filed with the court, it will appear on the person’s record. This will show that they have been charged and that a case is pending. At this stage of the process, it is crucial for those accused of drug offenses to contact a nearby attorney.

CAN A DRUG CHARGE BE DROPPED RIGHT AWAY?

Any charge can be dropped immediately, but this is not typically what happens. Usually, there must be some form of adjudication of the case—the person either must plead guilty or go to trial, or the defense attorney must find a maneuver to force the case to get dismissed. This could be because of a constitutional rights violation or a lack of proof that would make the prosecutor unable to pursue the case.

For diversion cases, the prosecution may be suspended while the person completes the diversion program. If they complete the program, the case will be dismissed. However, this is different from charges being dropped right away.

If a person thinks they are under investigation for a drug crime, especially if the investigation involves drug sales or large-scale operations, they need to contact an attorney right away. Even those found with paraphernalia or small quantities of a drug need legal representation.

At Grand Canyon Law Group, we deal with these cases day in and day out. We know the legal process for drug cases in Phoenix and understand the procedures, laws, courts, and prosecutors involved. This prepares us to effectively defend you against these types of charges and seek the best possible resolution to your case.

LEGAL DEFINITIONS IN BUILDING A DRUG DEFENSE

Possession is a broad concept in many drug cases. Suppose four people are driving in a car, and a baggie is in the center console. Who possesses that baggie? In theory, anyone in the vehicle could possess it. The legal definition of possession involves being able to exercise dominion or control over a certain item. One potential defense in a drug possession case is to argue that the defendant did not actually possess the substance in question.

A Phoenix lawyer could also create a defense around a person’s intent in a drug sale case. Sale cases can be difficult for the state to prove since many factors must be considered. This also means there are many potential defenses, such as questioning a defendant’s intent to sell or arguing joint possession of the substances.

CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES IN PHOENIX DRUG CASES

Drug cases often involve search and seizure issues, such as home or vehicle searches executed without warrants. There are also many potential issues related to police interviews. In a drug case, a seasoned local attorney could question whether the person’s statements were voluntarily given or whether their Miranda rights were properly read.

TRAFFIC STOPS

Many drug charges and arrests arise from traffic stops. Sometimes, those traffic stops are done with less than reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If the officer pulls over a vehicle without a good reason, the evidence obtained from that traffic stop may be suppressed in the resulting drug case.

If someone is pulled over for a turn signal violation or other minor traffic offense, the law says that the traffic stop can only last as long as necessary to complete the objective of the stop. In other words, the stop must be brief. Police have been known to delay these stops to bring in drug-sniffing dogs. A savvy drug attorney could argue to suppress the evidence obtained in an unreasonably long traffic stop.

Even if you have not been arrested or charged yet, you need legal representation as soon as you suspect you are under investigation for drug charges. There are things an attorney can do to begin defending you and help avoid charges.

A PHOENIX DRUG ATTORNEY CAN HELP YOU DEFEND AGAINST YOUR CHARGES

If you are convicted of a drug offense, you face more than just probation or jail time. Your professional life is at stake, as these charges can lead to the loss of licenses or certifications. A criminal record can limit your housing and educational opportunities. You might be ineligible to receive public benefits like food stamps or welfare. To prevent the potential consequences of drug charges in Phoenix, it is crucial that you work with a skilled attorney.

Drug charges are not to be taken lightly. Many drug offenses are felonies, carrying with them the potential for years in prison, significant fines, and probation.

To ensure that you have the best possible chance at a positive outcome in your case, you must work with an attorney who understands the intricacies of these cases and is ready to build a strong defense. A skilled Phoenix drug lawyer can fight to have the case dismissed based on improper procedures used by the investigating law enforcement agency, or work to negotiate a favorable plea bargain with the prosecutor. To learn more about how our legal team can help you fight your charges, schedule a free consultation today.

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