Convictions surrounding the possession of various controlled substances in the state of Arizona can have a wide variety of punishments, depending on many contributing factors. Punishments range from fines and probation to a fifteen-year prison sentence. Some of the factors that determine sentencing include the following:
Type of Drug
Some drugs are considered more dangerous than others, according to federal schedules which classify drugs into different categories. For example, drugs with no federally recognized medical uses such as heroin and marijuana are considered more dangerous and therefore classified as schedule I drugs, while drugs with medical uses but the potential for abuse such as opium and morphine are considered schedule II. The types of drug in question may influence the judge's sentence.
Amount of Drug
In Arizona, selling drugs or the intent to sell drugs is a much more serious crime than simple possession. The law, therefore, includes “thresholds” for the amount of a particular drug that an individual may possess before they are charged with the intent to sell. The idea is that if a person has obtained a substantial amount of a drug, they are most likely intending to sell it. Thresholds in Arizona for common drugs include
- 2 pounds of marijuana
- 1 gram of heroin
- 9 grams of cocaine
- 4 grams of 50 milliliters of PCP
- 9 grams of methamphetamine
- 0.5 milliliters or 50 doses of LSD
Any conviction involving an amount of drug greater than the threshold, even if it is a first offense, carries a mandatory prison sentence. Even if the amount is less than the threshold, defendants can still get charged with intent to sell if prosecutors can make a strong case based on the amount of money in the defendant's possession, the way the drugs were separated (into sellable quantities), and how the drugs were hidden.
If the possession charges are brought in conjunction with other charges, especially severe or violent charges such as assault, possession of an illegal weapon, drug manufacturing, or involving or using minors, the penalty for possession will likely be more severe.
If it is a defendant's first or, in certain cases, second nonviolent drug possession charge, they may be sentenced to probation in place of jail time or fines. Probation may include drug education or treatment programs, the cost of which will be sustained by the defendant.
Tucson Attorneys Defending Drug Charges
Laws around possession and distribution of drugs change frequently as lawmakers attempt to reform drug policies. This evolution, combined with the many factors that courts consider when hearing or sentencing drug crime cases, means that having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney is absolutely essential. A conviction in a criminal drug case can have lifelong consequences and should be fought using all legal tools available to a defendant. At Sherick & Bleier, we work with misdemeanor and felony drug charges including possession, manufacture, transportation, trafficking/distribution, and conspiracy. For more information, contact our offices at 520-318-3939 or contact us online today.