Possession of a Controlled Substance: Arizona Drug Possession Laws
In Arizona, possession or use of dangerous drugs is punishable by law, and it is a class 4 felony as proscribed by ARS §13-3407.
Illegal drugs in Arizona
Arizona drug possession laws are very precise and detailed, listing the type and quantity of substances that are considered dangerous, and thus, illegal to possess.
State law classifies illegal drugs (also referred to as CDS, i.e., controlled dangerous substances) into 6 categories:
- prescription drugs
- narcotic drugs
- dangerous drugs
- substances that emit toxic vapors
Although the state of Arizona decriminalized medical marijuana, recreational use, non-medical cultivation of marijuana, and possession with intent to sell are still serious felonies in the Grand Canyon State.
In addition to prohibiting possession of illegal drugs, ARS §13-3407 also prohibits drug use, manufacturing or cultivation, transportation, smuggling, trafficking, and other drug-related behaviors.
Drug possession charges and penalties
All charges carry a burden of proof that needs to be established, in order for a suspect to be found guilty.
The prosecutor must prove these two statements, beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The suspect knowingly and willingly possessed a narcotic drug – being present where the drugs were found is not sufficient to get you convicted for possession. In order to prove a crime, the public prosecutor must present evidence that proves that you were aware of the drugs and used them.
- The substance was a narcotic drug – the substance found in possession must be on the list of controlled dangerous substances, and the prosecutor must present evidence of that. The substance is tested by forensic experts, who testify in later proceedings.
The seriousness of charges and penalties that you may face are related to a number of factors:
- type of drugs involved
- the quantity of drugs involved
- possessor’s intent
- other criminal activity involved
- previous convictions
Since Arizona passed Proposition 200, first- and second-time non-violent drug offenders can no longer be convicted to a prison sentence, that is until their third-time conviction. A term of probation and mandatory drug treatment are regular sentences (TASC program). If the terms or conditions of probation are violated, a jail term is forced.
Arizona’s sentencing system for drug-related crimes is complicated, and it is well advised to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to review your case.
- Possession of marijuana – can be charged as a misdemeanor, but it’s classified as class 6 Felony more often. Class 6 Felony is punishable with up to 2 years in prison.
- Possession of narcotic drug – is charged as a class 4 Felony in Arizona. Narcotic drugs include, but are not limited to: crack, cocaine, heroin, and some prescription drugs. Possession of these can be punishable by up to 3.75 years in prison.
- Possession of dangerous drugs – dangerous drugs include different substances such as PCP, Methamphetamine, Ecstasy, Mushrooms, and LSD. Having these drugs in your possession is considered a class 4 Felony, with 3.75 years in prison as a sanction.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia – is possession of any object used to store, cultivate, conceal or use an illegal drug, mostly for personal use. This is a class 6 Felony, punishable with up to 2 years in prison.
Charged with drug-related crime in Arizona?
Arizona state laws take any drug-related crimes seriously, so it is vital for you to contact and retain an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Sonoran Law Group will help you fully understand your situation. Our Scottsdale criminal defense attorneys will provide professional representation.
Call us today at 480.477-8040 for free consultation and advice!