Phoenix, Mesa, and Gilbert, Arizona, Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys
According to recent data from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Maricopa County law enforcement arrested more than 20,000 people in 2017, mostly for drug crimes. Drug crime arrests in Arizona come with serious consequences, especially if the charges result in convictions. Prosecutors can charge defendants with numerous different offenses, depending on the drugs involved, the amount, and the defendant’s actions.
Dealing with drug charges requires the assistance of an experienced Arizona attorney who knows the laws and understands how to navigate the state’s criminal court system. If you were arrested for a drug crime in Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, or the surrounding area, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys of McPhie Law at (480) 400-5555, or contact us online, to discuss your case today.
What Are Drug Crimes?
Under Arizona law, examples of drug violations include:
- Production of controlled substances and associated devices
- Distribution of controlled substances and associated devices
- Use of controlled substances and associated devices
- Cultivation of a controlled drug or narcotic
- Manufacturing of a controlled drug or narcotic
- Distribution of a controlled drug or narcotic
- Purchase or sale of a controlled drug or narcotic
- Use or possession of a controlled drug or narcotic
- Transportation or importation of a controlled drug or narcotic substance
Which Controlled Substances Are Illegal?
Arizona criminal law statutes list hundreds of illegal substances that can give rise to a drug charge. Some of the most common drug charges in Arizona involve:
- Aside from medical marijuana and industrial hemp, the possession, use, transportation, and sale of marijuana remains illegal in Arizona. In fact, more than 9,700 arrests in Maricopa County in 2017 were marijuana-related, which constitutes nearly 50 percent of all Maricopa County arrests in 2017. Arizona, however, legalized medical marijuana since 2010. Users must obtain a medical marijuana card, and they must purchase their marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary, to avoid violating the law. Industrial hemp is also exempted from Arizona marijuana prohibition laws.
- Prescription drugs. Highly addictive prescription drugs may result in a user abusing them. Drug crimes related to prescription drugs include where individuals commit prescription fraud or illegally sell prescription pills to others. The prescription drugs most commonly abused include Vicodin, oxycodone, Lyrica, Xanax, and Valium. In addition, if police catch you with prescription drugs without a valid prescription, you can face charges for possession of dangerous and/or narcotic drugs.
- Dangerous drugs. Arizona law includes dozens of substances under the umbrella of “dangerous drugs” including, but not limited to, ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamines, LSD, and PCP. Some of these drugs are not only highly addictive, but also have caused overdoses, long-term health problems, and death.
- Narcotic drugs. Narcotic drugs include a wide range of substances, some of which a doctor may prescribe. The most common narcotic drug is opium, which includes all of its derivatives, such as heroin, fentanyl, morphine, and codeine.
- Substances that emit toxic vapors. Substances that emit toxic vapors broadly include inhalants with psychotropic properties, such as solvents, gases, aerosols, and nitrites. Using or selling these types of illegal substances pose significant danger, which is why Arizona law puts them in a category of their own, with strict penalties.
- Federal law protects those who use peyote, a small cactus with psychotropic properties, for legitimate religious or spiritual purposes. All other uses and types of possession are prohibited under state law.
What Are the Penalties for a Drug Crime?
The penalties associated with drug crimes vary greatly depending on various factors, but may include jail time, fines, probation, mandatory treatment, and more.
Arizona law categorizes some drug crimes as felonies, and others as misdemeanors, each with separate classes of severity. Felonies are divided into six classes, and misdemeanors are divided into three, with Class 1 being the most serious for both. Sentencing can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the charge(s).
Although there are exceptions, Arizona law generally punishes trafficking drugs more severely than selling them, and use or possession charges usually result in the lightest sentences. Arizona, however, attaches stricter punishments for drug crimes than many other jurisdictions across the country, and the state classifies many drug crimes as Class 4, 5, or 6 felonies, which may include mandatory prison sentences that range from a few months to many years.
What Are Possible Defenses Against Drug Charges?
A skilled criminal defense attorney, who has experience navigating Arizona’s laws regarding controlled substances, will decide the best defense strategy based on the individual circumstances of your case. The following commonly asserted defenses could result in a reduction of your charges, or a prosecutor dropping your case altogether:
- Lack of evidence that proves you are guilty
- Unlawful search and seizure of your property
- Police entrapment
- Constitutional violations
- Law enforcement failed to follow proper procedure
If appropriate, your attorney may assert following additional defenses against possession charges:
- Lack of knowledge of drug possession, whether at home or in a vehicle
- Shared living space with others who had drugs
- No knowledge that your passenger had illegal substances
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost Me?
Drug crime convictions in Arizona can bring serious consequences. Even if you avoid jail time, a conviction will likely remain on your record forever. Hiring an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney is a worthwhile investment, and can help ensure the best possible result in your case. At McPhie Law, we offer free consultations with one of our experienced attorneys, at which point you can reveal the details of your arrest and confidentially discuss your options, including the estimated cost of representation.
Call McPhie Law Today
If you were arrested and charged with a drug crime, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to guide you through the court process and protect your rights. At McPhie Law, we regularly represent criminal defendants in courts throughout Arizona.
In addition to guiding you through your arrest and release, your attorney will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and seek the best possible outcome given your circumstances. We have offices in Phoenix, Mesa, and Gilbert, and represent clients in the surrounding communities as well. Call McPhie Law today at (480) 400-5555, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation.