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Drug Possession Laws in Arizona

Posted on August 11, 2021 in drugs

Arizona is clear in its anti-drug laws: the possession or use of any illicit substance is illegal and can result in criminal charges for felony drug possession. Depending on the type of drug in your possession, the amount involved, your intent for possessing the drug and your criminal history, the penalties for drug possession in Arizona can be severe. It is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix as soon as possible if you are facing charges for drug possession.

Types of Drug Possession Charges

The crime of drug possession means that you exercised control over an illegal drug. To convict you of drug possession, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew about the drug’s existence and that the substance in question is in fact a narcotic drug. Any substance confiscated at the scene of the alleged crime must be tested by forensic scientists to prove that it is a dangerous drug. There must also be evidence linking you to the drug.

There are several different types of drug possession charges in Arizona:

  • Simple possession
  • Possession with intent to sell
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Manufacture of a dangerous drug
  • Selling or transporting a drug
  • Drug trafficking
  • Interstate drug crimes

The type of charge can determine factors such as what the prosecutor must prove for a criminal conviction and the penalties that you may face as a defendant. Understanding your type of charge can allow you to choose the correct legal strategy to defend your rights.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession in Arizona?

Arizona does not take drug possession crimes lightly. State laws penalize these crimes severely to discourage citizens from obtaining, possessing, purchasing and distributing illicit substances. If you are convicted of drug possession, regardless of the type or amount of the drug, you could face months to years in jail or prison, as well as expensive fines. The criminal penalties change according to the type and severity of the charge:

  • Dangerous drug. Possession of any type of dangerous drug is a class 4 felony. Without any prior convictions – unless the drug was meth or another type of amphetamine – this could be reduced to a class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of at least $2,000 or three times the value of the substance seized, whichever is greater, as well as up to a year in jail (or more with priors).
  • Narcotic. Possession of a narcotic, such as cocaine, is also a class 4 felony with a possible reduction to a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties are the same as possession of a dangerous drug in Arizona, with one exception. With prior convictions, possession of a narcotic can result in up to 15 years in jail, while possession of a dangerous drug can result in up to 3.75 years in prison.
  • Marijuana. Illegal possession of more than 1 ounce or 5 grams of marijuana (without a valid medical card) in Arizona is a class 6 felony if it is for personal use, a class 5 felony if it was personally grown or a class 4 felony if it is for sale. The penalties can include a fine of at least $2,000 or three times the value of the substance (whichever is greater), up to 1 year in jail with no priors, or up to 3.75 years in jail with priors.

Drug possession with intent to sell, as well as the possession of a large quantity of drugs, can enhance the basic penalties for a drug possession crime in Arizona. In addition to fines and jail time, you could lose public benefits for a drug possession conviction, including scholarships or welfare benefits. You may also face probation and mandatory community service.

The best way to protect yourself from a drug possession charge is by contacting a lawyer to represent you right away. A criminal defense lawyer can help you determine the drug possession charge(s) you are facing, as well as craft a defense on your behalf.