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 Charges in Arizona:

  • Amount of illegal drugs in possession
  • Classification of illegal drug as dangerous or non-dangerous
  • Intent of possession; personal use or intent to sell

Determining if the Drug Possession Charge is a Felony

In Arizona, drug possession charges are not the same across-the-board, rather the charges someone will face depend on several important variables. These variables are the type of drug, its amount as well as the intended use of the drug.

These differing variables allow for a judge to be somewhat lenient and fair in their sentencing as they are able to hear the facts and then make a sound decision instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. A great example of how the variable “type” affects charges, is the difference in charges between marijuana and methamphetamine.

Possession of Marijuana

Arizona considers marijuana to be a non-dangerous drug and A.R.S. § 13-3405(A)(1) states that a person “shall not knowingly possess or use marijuana” and anyone who breaks this law can be charged with a class 2-6 felony depending on the weight of marijuana in possession. Due to marijuana’s classification is a non-dangerous drug, a judge is granted more leniency in when dealing with sentencing.

In fact, in addition to leniency, with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer marijuana possession drug charges can be lowered from a felony to a class one misdemeanor. The lowering of the charges to a class 1 misdemeanor will prevent jail time and will require a fine and attendance of a diversion or education program, all of which is far better than spending time in prison.

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. Charges for methamphetamine possession cannot be lowered to a misdemeanor or probation. 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 Narcotics 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) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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