The United States is in the midst of a drug epidemic. In 2019, more than 1,900 people died from drug overdoses in Arizona. In an attempt to keep illegal drugs off the street, prosecutors take a hardline approach when it comes to drug crimes. If you face drug possession or drug distribution charges, a conviction can change your life forever. You need a lawyer who is ready to fight for your future and your freedom. Attorney James E. Novak is a respected Phoenix criminal defense attorney with decades of experience successfully resolving cases on behalf of clients charged with all types of drug charges.Types of Arizona Drug Charges
In a general sense, drug cases come in two types, those involving possession for personal use and those involving possession with the intent to distribute or sell. Arizona law uses the term “dangerous drug” to refer to illegal narcotics. A dangerous drug is any scheduled narcotic other than marijuana. This includes both prescription drugs and “street” drugs. While there are hundreds of dangerous drugs, some of the most common include cocaine, crack, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, PCP, oxycodone, oxycontin, and Xanax.
More specifically, it is a crime to commit any of the following:
- Possession of a dangerous drug
- Sale of a controlled substance
- Possession with intent to sell drugs
- Manufacture of a dangerous drug
- Administering a drug to another person
- Drug trafficking
- Fraudulently obtaining a prescription
Any Arizona drug charge involving a dangerous drug is a felony offense.The Difference Between Possession and Possession with Intent to Sell
The two most common types of drug charges in Phoenix are possession and possession with intent to sell. While it may seem like the difference between these two charges is clear, the line between them is often blurry. This is because the government does not need to prove that you actually sold drugs to convict you of possession with intent to deliver, only that you would have sold them if you had the opportunity.
If you are arrested with a small amount of drugs, it is unlikely that the government will charge you with possession with intent to sell absent evidence of an actual sale. However, if you had a larger amount of drugs on you, the charges you face will depend on the surrounding circumstances, including:
- The amount of the drug;
- How the drugs were packaged;
- Whether you had anything in your possession to consume the drugs, such as a needle or a pipe;
- The amount of money you had on you, especially small bills;
- Whether you had scales, unused packaging, razor blades or other drug-selling paraphernalia;
The bottom line is, if you were arrested with a large amount of drugs, how you handle your case may be the difference between a slap on the wrist and a lengthy prison sentence.Penalties for Phoenix Drug Crimes
Arizona has some of the harshest punishments for drug offenses. The sentence you may face will depend on the type of drug, the amount of drugs you had, your prior record, and whether you possessed the drugs for personal use or with the intent to sell. For example, a first offense for selling drugs is a Class 2 felony, punishable by a sentence of up to ten years in jail. However, if you were charged with selling or manufacturing methamphetamine, the maximum jail sentence increases to 15 years for a first offense.Marijuana Drug Charges
Arizona marijuana laws recently changed, allowing you to possess up to one ounce. You can also legally grow up to six plants for non-commercial purposes. While the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Arizona for adults over the age of 21, there are still significant limitations on the possession and cultivation of marijuana. Additionally, it remains illegal to sell marijuana. While the punishments for marijuana offenses are less severe than for other drugs, they are still almost always graded as felonies.Were You Arrested on a Phoenix Drug Charge?
Police, prosecutors and judges take drug charges seriously, and so should you. If you face drug charges in Phoenix, reach out to the Law Office of James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a dedicated criminal defense attorney with decades of experience successfully handling cases on behalf of clients charged with all types of drug crimes. Whether he is fighting to keep evidence out of trial, negotiating with prosecutors for a favorable result, or litigating your case in front of the jury, Attorney Novak will fight to protect your future and your freedom. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call 480-413-1499 today.