Consequences for a First Offense Felony Drug Charge in Arizona

Arizona is a state with some of the strictest laws regulating the possession of drugs and narcotics which can be legally used, as well as the drugs that can never be used or in your possession. In an effort to ensure that the strict laws regarding drugs are clear, Arizona has published detailed lists outlining the types and quantities of drugs that are prohibited in the state, as well as the punishment that corresponds to the possession of each drug.

This strictness in the laws is believed by many to exist as a form of protection for Arizonans from the terrible side effects and dangers that surround many harmful drugs. However, this strict view on drugs also leads to harsh penalties and even incarceration for many unknowing individuals.

Criteria for Felony Offense Drug Charge in Arizona:

  • Possession or use of a prohibited drug, including narcotics, dangerous drugs, and marijuana in certain cases, with intent to use or sell.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to use or sell.
  • Sale or distribution of prohibited drugs, including narcotics and dangerous drugs.
  • Manufacturing or producing prohibited drugs, including narcotics and dangerous drugs.
  • Transporting or importing prohibited drugs, including narcotics, dangerous drugs, and marijuana in certain cases.
  • Possession or use of prohibited drugs within a designated drug-free school zone or public housing project.
  • Possession or use of prohibited drugs while armed with a deadly weapon.
  • Repeat drug offenses or prior convictions for drug-related crimes.

Determining if the Drug Possession Charge is a Felony

Drug possession charges differ widely depending on several important variables in Arizona; charges depend on factors like the type and quantity of drugs present as well as how they were intended to be used.

Variables allow judges to be flexible and fair in their sentencing as they can take into account individual facts when making a sound decision instead of employing a cookie-cutter approach. A great example of how variable “type” impacts charges would be the disparate charges between marijuana and methamphetamine use.

Possession of Marijuana 

Arizona has legalized medical marijuana, yet recreational use remains illegal in the state. Arizona may classify marijuana differently than other drugs, but possession without valid medical authorization remains illegal and penalties for possession will vary based on weight and circumstances of each case.

Possession of Methamphetamine

For drugs considered to be dangerous, such as methamphetamine, the charges are much more severe and there is often little to no leniency that can be offered by a judge. Possession of methamphetamine is a felony that comes with both mandatory and maximum prison time.

Due to the complex differences in drug categories and the major impact the charges surrounding the illegal possession of drugs can have on your life, it is extremely important to hire a competent and experienced defense attorney to assist you with your legal matter ASAP.

Difference Between Drugs and Narcotics

Unlike drugs, which are illegal in every form (except for marijuana), narcotics,  commonly referred to as opioids, can be legally obtained and kept in your possession so long as they were obtained with a valid prescription from a doctor. Even though narcotics can be legal to possess, their addictive nature has caused them to be heavily regulated in an effort to prevent abuse but this heavy regulation has lead to harsh charges.

Narcotics Possession

Due to tight regulation, possession of the following common narcotics without a prescription is a felony in the state of Arizona according to A.R.S. 13-3408:

  • Methadone
  • Vicodin
  • Percacet
  • Xanax
  • Codeine
  • Morphine

If you are found to be in possession of an illegal narcotic, A.R.S 13-3408 outlines the following penalties:

  • Possession or use of a narcotic drug – Class 4 Felony
  • Possession of a narcotic drug for sale – Class 2 Felony
  • Possession of equipment or chemicals, or both, for the purpose of manufacturing a narcotic drug – Class 3 Felony

Narcotic possession charges are not taken lightly in Arizona, and unlike a first time offense for drugs, such as marijuana, the first offense with possession of a narcotic is a felony and has serious consequences. Due to the wide range of potential consequences stemming from a narcotic related arrest, it is recommended to contact a skilled Arizona criminal defense attorney to ensure you receive the best sentencing available.

Possession of Drugs or Narcotic with Intent to Sell

The third variable used to determine the charge for possession of a drug or narcotic is the intended use. More often the not, the amount police find helps them to determine the intended use; small amounts are seen as personal use, while large amounts are viewed to be possessed with an “intent to sell.” If it is determined that the possession of drugs is with an intent to sell, the charges become more severe and a felony conviction warrants serious jail time.

FAQ about Felony Drug Charges in Arizona

Q: What is a dangerous drug charge?

In Arizona, a dangerous drug is any drug or narcotic other than marijuana and possession of a dangerous drug is a class 4 felony.

Q: Is drug possession a felony in Arizona?

Drug possessions are considered to be felonies in the state of Arizona, however depending on the type, amount and intent, the charge can be lowered to a misdemeanor.

Q: What is the penalty for possession of narcotics?

Narcotics are extremely addictive drugs, and therefore they are highly regulated. All narcotics charges are a felony.

Receive Help with a Felony Drug Charge in Arizona

If you have been arrested on charges of drug trafficking or the intent to sell, these charges are serious enough to require a mandatory prison sentence for first-time offenders. Without an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney fighting for your freedom, you could face a long prison sentence and a heavy fine that can potentially devastate your finances for years to come.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 418-4281 to discuss your case today.

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