Posted Feb 2023
The United States regulates drug-related offenses on federal and state levels. The nation’s long-running campaign against illegal drugs has led to strict federal and state drug laws. The laws make it illegal for anyone to carry or willfully possess illegal substances on their person or to keep them for personal use. The illegal substances include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other controlled substances.
With drug possession accounting for up to 80 percent of all drug-related arrests, it is a fairly common crime. Each state has laws on drug possession and how to penalize the crime. While what constitutes drug possession can vary depending on the type of drug and amount, Arizona severely punishes drug-related offenses.
Besides severe penalties such as imprisonment and monetary fines upon conviction, you risk losing your job, housing benefits, and child custody, among other collateral consequences. Essentially, a drug possession charge can be life-changing. You need a skilled drug possession attorney to help you fight for your legal rights and overcome a drug possession charge.
According to Arizona laws, drug possession is either actual or constructive. Actual possession occurs when the defendant carries the illegal substances on their person, including in their pocket or purse. Constructive possession occurs when the police, in a lawful search, find illegal substances in places that the defendant has control over, including their house or car.
Constructive possession attracts more severe punishment than actual possession. However, the prosecution must prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction. Some of these elements include that:
Drug possession can also be categorized into simple possession or possession with an intent to distribute. Simple possession is where the defendant only has small amounts of the drug, probably for personal use. However, possession for distribution involves having large amounts of the illegal substance to distribute or sell to others.
Arizona penalizes drug possession under three categories: dangerous drugs, narcotics, and marijuana. Possessing dangerous drugs is a class 4 felony or class 1 misdemeanor punishable with a prison term of up to six months and a fine of up to $2,500. The possession of narcotic drugs is a class 4 felony, and penalties include a prison sentence of up to 18 months.
Depending on the amount of drug, possession of marijuana is either a class 5 felony, a class 4 felony, or a class 6 felony. Arizona allows the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use. Arizona is lenient on first-time drug possession offenders, including offering them a reduced sentence or only requiring them to enroll in a rehabilitation or drug treatment program.
With Arizona aggressively pursuing and severely punishing drug possession offenders, you need a good defense strategy to overcome possession charges. Some common defenses that a criminal defense lawyer can use to fight for your legal rights include:
A drug possession charge can have serious consequences, including imprisonment. However, a skilled drug possession defense attorney can help you overcome drug possession and related charges. If you are facing a drug possession charge in Phoenix, AZ, contact our Phoenix drug possession defense lawyers at Huselid & Huselid Law. We have broad experience dealing with similar cases and will fight to protect your future, freedom, and reputation. Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more about our criminal defense services.