Scottsdale Drug Crime Lawyer

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Scottsdale Drug Crime Attorney

Arizona has stringent drug laws. It is a crime to possess and use illegal drugs in Scottsdale knowingly. The ramifications for being charged with using or possessing illegal drugs can result in jail or lengthy imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines.

Scottsdale drug laws and sentencing provisions can be complex and will depend on a number of variables in a case. An experienced Scottsdale drug lawyer at Grand Canyon Law Group can help navigate the criminal process, negotiate with the prosecutor, and put forth applicable defenses to get the best possible outcome for you. We are former prosecutors who know how to obtain the best outcome for our clients.

UNDERSTANDING DRUG ADDICTION—COMPASSIONATE REPRESENTATION

While some drug possession cases involve people with one-time or rare drug use, many charged with this crime have an underlying drug addiction. It is obviously important to have a top-notch attorney fighting the legal side and consequences, but we also understand that there is a bigger issue. Our attorneys and staff are experienced at working with people with drug and alcohol addiction, providing help and resources, and in doing all we can to craft an outcome in the criminal case that focuses more on treatment and healing than on punishment. This is not always possible in our criminal justice system, but there are options and things we can do in most cases.

We take the time to understand our clients and listen with compassion. We have found that if we can express to the prosecution who our client is, the journey they have been on, and their prospects for successful recovery, we are able to get major improvements in the outcomes of our clients’ cases. But maybe more importantly, our clients are also on a more positive path at the end of their criminal case.

ELEMENTS OF DRUG OFFENSE

To prove possession of drugs, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly possessed a drug, and that the drug was, in fact, an illegal drug. Evidence must link defendant to the drugs to reasonably infer the defendant knew about the drug’s existence, and that defendant had control over the drugs. In addition, the drug must be tested by a forensic scientist who then must testify that the substance is, in fact, the drug they say it is.

UNDERSTANDING ARIZONA’S SCHEME FOR SUPPRESSING ILLEGAL DRUGS

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.

TYPES OF DRUG CHARGES IN SCOTTSDALE

POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE OR DANGEROUS DRUGS

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.

DRUG POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE

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

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.

DRUG MANUFACTURING

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.

MARIJUANA

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.

POTENTIAL PENALTIES FOR DRUG CRIMES

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.

ALTERNATIVE SENTENCING FOR DRUG POSSESSION CHARGES

A conviction for a first-time possession offense will likely allow a defendant to enter a diversion program or undergo drug treatment and probation rather than jail time. The law recognizes that therapeutic approaches are more effective than prison time at treating addiction. When a defendant completes their diversion program, the drug charges will be dismissed, allowing them to move forward with a clean record. Our Scottsdale attorneys can help those accused of minor drug offenses pursue this alternative to criminal penalties.

ENHANCED PENALTIES FOR SUBSTANCE-RELATED OFFENSES

Defendants with prior drug offenses on their records may be denied options for diversion programs. A second-time possession charge could lead to a jail sentence—a third offense could lead to prison, even for mere personal possession. In these cases, it is crucial to talk to a skilled lawyer at our firm about mitigating the potential penalties of a drug conviction.

When a defendant is accused of possessing large quantities of an illegal substance, they may face harsher charges for distribution or intent to sell. The type of drug can also aggravate the potential penalties. Distribution, transportation, and sale charges involving dangerous or narcotic drugs come with mandatory prison time upon conviction.

MITIGATING THE CONSEQUENCES OF A DRUG CHARGE

Anyone accused of a drug crime should take several immediate steps to protect their rights and prevent severe consequences. Do not consent to any type of search or make any statements to the police. Most importantly, ask to speak with a lawyer right away.

A skilled attorney who handles drug cases in Scottsdale can analyze the case and explain the sentencing factors. The legal team at our firm can then assess the prosecution’s strengths and weaknesses to determine an effective defense strategy for mitigating the penalties. We personalize our approach to the specific situation by understanding the defendant’s background and motivations. Our dedicated attorneys will look for constitutional rights violations and police errors that may help the person avoid punishment for a drug conviction.

DRUG ARRESTS IN SCOTTSDALE

Drug arrests can occur in various scenarios, with traffic stops and search warrants as the most common. In these situations, knowing your rights can make the difference between a dismissal of the charges and a conviction with life-changing penalties.

TYPICAL ARREST PROCEDURES FOR DRUG-RELATED CHARGES

Many drug arrests arise from traffic stops. For instance, suppose someone commits a traffic violation and gets pulled over by an officer. If the police develop reasonable suspicion to prolong the stop, they may investigate or search the car and find illegal substances, leading to an arrest.

In other situations, the police conduct intelligence to infiltrate a drug trade or trafficking organization. They may conduct phone wiretaps or observe people with suspected involvement. Once they develop sufficient probable cause, they will get search warrants and attempt to bring charges against anyone involved, often multiple people.

DOES THE TYPE AND QUANTITY OF DRUG AFFECT THE ARREST PROCESS?

When a case involves small quantities or items for personal use, the officer may release the person without arresting them. Police will send the substance to a lab to confirm the type of drug. This leads to long-form charges requiring the person to appear in court, potentially months after the incident.

In cases involving large quantities or organizations, the police may have other probable cause for a person’s arrest. Time is often of the essence with drug sale cases and trafficking organizations. The police will generally put their case together over a period of time, but they want to move quickly when they are ready to execute it. Sometimes, they have grand jury warrants or arrest warrants. These situations typically lead to someone being booked into jail with an initial appearance before a judge rather than receiving a summons in the mail.

AT THE SCENE OF A DRUG ARREST IN SCOTTSDALE

Anyone present at the scene of a drug crime is at risk of arrest. Even if they are not charged with the main offense, they may be accused of being an accomplice to a lesser degree. However, as our experienced local attorneys can attest, it is not a crime to merely be present at the scene of a drug arrest. If a person had no connection and did not aid or facilitate the drug offense in any way, they should not hold criminal liability. Those arrested in these situations should contact a Scottsdale attorney immediately to protect their rights.

YOUR RIGHTS WHEN YOU ARE BEING ARRESTED

Everyone has constitutional rights during the drug arrest process, including the following:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to not incriminate themselves
  • The right to have counsel present
  • The right to privacy, including the right to be free from searches and seizures without probable cause or warrants

Anyone arrested for a drug-related offense in Scottsdale should exercise their right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer before answering any questions.

Whether your arrest results from a sting operation or a traffic stop, you need representation from a savvy attorney. At Grand Canyon Law Group, our dedicated defense lawyers are former prosecutors who know how to fight for your rights and work toward a brighter future.

DRUG SCHEDULES IN SCOTTSDALE

The laws regarding illegal substances are complex. For instance, Arizona categorizes drugs into several “schedules” that can impact the severity of the charges. When you face drug-related allegations, you need someone with expertise to explain the nuances and develop a strategy for your defense.

TYPES OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES IN SCOTTSDALE

The state court in Maricopa County groups substances into two general categories: dangerous and narcotic drugs. Within these categories are several schedules of drugs subject to state regulation. Methamphetamines are a prominent example of a dangerous drug. Narcotic drugs include cocaine, crack, and opioids. These are different categorizations than the five schedules of drugs set by the DEA at the federal level, as our local attorneys can explain.

SCHEDULE ONE

Schedule one drugs are usually substances or chemicals without an accepted medical use. These drugs are often abused, such as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

SCHEDULE TWO

Schedule two drugs may have a medical use or purpose, but they are also highly subject to abuse. These include opioids like oxycontin, fentanyl, hydrocodone, cocaine, amphetamine, and methadone.

SCHEDULE THREE

Schedule three drugs also have a medical use for those with prescriptions. They are subject to potential abuse, although they are not as dangerous or addictive as schedule two drugs. This category could include anabolic steroids, Tylenol with codeine, and ketamine.

SCHEDULE FOUR

Schedule four drugs still have addictive properties and require a prescription. This includes drugs like Xanax, Valium, and Ambien.

SCHEDULE FIVE

Generally, schedule five drugs still require a prescription but have a low potential for abuse, such as cough medicines.

CONSULTING AN ATTORNEY ON DRUG SCHEDULES

The most important resource in a drug case is years of training and expertise in these areas. A skilled Scottsdale lawyer at our firm understands drug laws and schedules and how they may apply to a given case. We also know the system, how it operates, and what advantages it may afford a defendant.

Regardless of what schedule of drug a person is accused of possessingdistributing, or selling, legal counsel is crucial to minimizing the potential penalties. Grand Canyon Law Group will analyze all the available information in a case, including documents, paperwork, search warrants, and the defendant’s history. We are here to inform and guide defendants toward the best possible outcomes.

COURT PROCESS FOR SCOTTSDALE DRUG CASES

After an arrest for drug-related charges, you should expect a lengthy court process ahead. This begins with an appearance before a judge to set your release conditions while the case is pending. At each stage of the legal proceedings, representation from a skilled attorney is crucial to protecting your rights and pursuing a positive outcome to the case.

Grand Canyon Law Group can guide you through the court process for Scottsdale drug cases while minimizing the impact of the charges on your life. We will help determine whether going to trial or negotiating a plea deal is in your best interests. Either way, we are prepared to fight tirelessly for your future.

WHAT COURTS DEAL WITH DRUG CASES IN SCOTTSDALE?

Outside of federal drug trafficking or higher-level cases, felony drug charges will be heard by the Maricopa County Superior Court. Most cases are charged in state court. Misdemeanor drug offenses like simple possession will be charged in one of the justice courts or city courts in the area.

Misdemeanor drug cases involve bench trials, while felony charges entitle defendants to a jury trial. These offenses typically take three to four months to resolve, although larger-scale drug sale cases can be more complex and may take up to a year or more. The experienced local attorneys at our firm can explain what to expect from the court process for specific drug charges.

PROVING A SUBSTANCE-RELATED OFFENSE IN COURT

For any drug offense, the prosecutor must prove several elements in court to secure a conviction. In cases alleging personal possession, they must show that the defendant knowingly possessed a prohibited substance. If the charges involve transportation or possession with intent to sell, the prosecutor must also prove the defendant’s intent. The factors at play will also vary if the defendant is accused of being an accomplice to a drug crime.

Anyone facing trial for drug offenses needs representation from a knowledgeable Scottsdale lawyer to navigate the complex court proceedings, especially in larger-scale cases. A savvy attorney could contest the prosecution’s case by raising various constitutional issues throughout the legal process. Fourth Amendment issues involving illegal searches and seizures are often major topics in drug proceedings, as well as Fifth and Sixth Amendment issues involving Miranda rights and the right to counsel.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS FOR DRUG CRIME SENTENCING

The sentencing process varies drastically depending on the nature of the charges. Those convicted of personal use or possession will be placed on probation or offered entry into a drug diversion program. Convictions for drug sales and trafficking offenses can lead to much harsher sentencing, potentially years-long prison terms.

THE PROCESS OF APPEALING A DRUG CASE

When a defendant believes their conviction or sentence is unjust, they have options for seeking justice, whether their sentencing resulted from a guilty verdict at trial or a plea agreement. Our seasoned attorneys in Scottsdale could explain the court process for appealing a drug conviction if mistakes occurred at trial. Defendants who took plea agreements may have legal avenues for seeking post-conviction relief to correct an unfair sentence.

At Grand Canyon Law Group, our former prosecutors deeply understand the legal systems involved in drug cases. We know the police, prosecutors, and judges and can use these relationships to pursue the best avenues of defense for our clients. Our team will listen to your story and work tirelessly to secure a favorable result in your situation.

DEFENSES AGAINST DRUG CHARGES

Defenses to a drug charge are case-specific. One can claim they did not know the drugs were in the location where they were found or that the substance found was not the illegal drug they claim. These can be difficult defenses, depending on the surrounding circumstances.

Some of the most effective defenses are that the police committed illegal search and seizure by either illegally stopping or contacting the defendant, or searching them without sufficient suspicion. These are powerful because that can lead to the incriminating evidence and the case being dismissed. An experienced Scottsdale drug attorney could work to ensure all defenses are thoroughly researched to help lessen charges.

After being charged with a drug offense, your first move should be to speak to a lawyer experienced with handling these types of cases. The sentencing schemes for these charges are complex, so you need legal counsel to explain the possible range of punishments in your case.

The penalties for drug crimes in Scottsdale can be severe. Even after you finish your sentence, the repercussions of a mark on your criminal record are long-lasting. Do not trust your case to an inexperienced legal defender.

SENTENCING IN SCOTTSDALE DRUG OFFENSE

The Criminal Code Sentencing Provisions (“Sentencing Provisions”) and Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13, Chapter 34 lays out the range of sentencing for drug offenses. One’s sentence depends on the type and classification of the drug charge, the amount of drugs, whether it is a repeated offense, and if it is single or multiple offenses. Most drug charges are classified as felonies.

The Sentencing Provisions has separate categories for multiple drug offenses, personal possession and use of drugs, and non-multiple drug offenses. The Sentencing Provisions also detail threshold amounts for specific drugs.

SINGLE DRUG OFFENSE

You may have heard of “Prop 200,” which was an important law passed in Arizona to try to reduce the number of people in prison for drug offenses. The good news is that (in many cases) it requires that the court give a person probation when convicted of their first drug offense. But there are exceptions. The person must not have any prior drug convictions, no prior violent convictions, and it does not apply to methamphetamine possession.

Charges and sentencing for a drug offense are complex. A trained Scottsdale drug attorney skilled in navigating drug charges could help one better understand their case and help defend their rights.

HOW A SCOTTSDALE DRUG ATTORNEY CAN HELP

Drug charges are serious criminal offenses in Scottsdale, with sometimes lengthy prison sentences. A skilled Scottdale drug lawyer experienced in criminal defense could help you attain the best possible outcome either by mitigating charges or dismissing your case.

Call an attorney at Grand Canyon Law Group today who could advise you on proceeding with your criminal drug charge and protecting your rights.

Schedule A Consultation With The Grand Canyon Attorney Who Can Help