Drug Possession Charges in Arizona

Arizona is harsh in its prosecution and sentencing of drug crimes. It is one of the strictest states in the US in terms of drug laws and related charges. The crime of drug possession specifically refers to having an illicit drug on your person or property, such as your vehicle or home. The penalties for a drug possession conviction in Arizona can be severe and include jail time. It is important to contact an attorney if you are facing drug possession charges in Arizona.

What Is a Controlled Substance?

A controlled substance is one that can hurt a user’s health and wellbeing. It describes an illegal drug. In Arizona, being caught in possession of a controlled substance can lead to charges on a federal, state or local level. Under federal law, the Controlled Substances Act creates schedules for each drug based on its potential for drug abuse and its medicinal purposes. The schedule of the drug in your case can determine the severity of the penalty.

  • Schedule I. A drug classified as unsafe, with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Examples are marijuana, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy.
  • Schedule II. A drug with accepted medical use, but a high potential for abuse. Narcotics and stimulants such as oxycontin, hydrocodone, morphine and opium.
  • Schedule III. A drug with a mid-level potential for abuse that can still lead to high psychological dependence. Examples are ketamine and anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule IV. Drugs with a reduced potential for abuse compared to Schedule III drugs. They include Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Restoril.
  • Schedule V. Lower-risk drugs that contain only limited quantities of narcotics, such as certain cough syrups.

It is illegal to possess any controlled substance within these schedules in the United States. However, certain states and municipalities have passed their own laws legalizing the possession and use of certain substances. For the most part, you will not face federal criminal charges for drug possession unless the amount is significant or the crime is severe. If a certain type of possession is legal in your state or city, you generally will not face related criminal charges.

Penalties in Arizona for Drug Possession Charges

If the courts in Arizona convict you of a drug possession crime, you could face serious penalties. The exact sentence will depend on the severity of the crime, your criminal history, the facts of the case and the judge. For less than two pounds of marijuana possession, you face a class 6 felony that may be reduced to a misdemeanor if for personal use. The fines for this crime are no less than $2,000 or three times the value of the substance, whichever is greater. You could also face up to 1 year in jail with no prior convictions or up to 3.75 years with priors.

If convicted of a drug possession crime with a narcotic or dangerous drug, you could face a class 4 felony with or without the possibility of a reduction to a class 1 misdemeanor. Both crimes can come with up to one year in jail with no priors. Found in possession of a dangerous drug with priors can lead to up to 3.75 years in prison. Possession of a narcotic, such as cocaine, can lead to up to 15 years in jail with two priors. The fines for both crimes are no less than $2,000 or three times the value of the substance.

How Can an Attorney Help With Drug Possession Charges?

It is important to speak to a criminal defense attorney if you are facing a drug possession charge in Arizona. A lawyer could help you reduce the charges against you or win your drug possession case. Your lawyer will understand the laws and how to make them work for you. Your lawyer will investigate to make sure the charges are legitimate, as well as uncover what evidence, if any, the prosecution has against you. Your lawyer will work hard on your case while you focus on the future with greater peace of mind.