Drug Possession Defenses

Tempe Lawyers for Defenses to Drug Possession

Drug possession can be a serious charge in Arizona. You shouldn’t assume that a conviction would merely result in a slap on the wrist because it is your first offense. Additionally, a drug crimes conviction can affect sentencing for future offenses. If you are concerned about defenses, you should discuss your situation with the experienced Tempe drug possession attorney James E. Novak. Mr. Novak is a former prosecutor who understands how prosecutors think about drug crimes and what strategies are likely to work to defeat the charges.

Drug Possession

Under Arizona law, you can be charged if you knowingly possess or use unlawful drugs. If you’re found with illicit substances in Tempe, you could be charged with felony possession. The law prohibits a range of drugs and provides for penalties based on type and quantity of drugs at issue. The type of drug can have a significant impact on your charges, but so can your prior criminal history.

You can face a class 4 felony conviction, for example, for a dangerous drug. The situation is different if you don’t have prior felony convictions and the drug wasn’t methamphetamine or a different amphetamine. In that case, you could have the charged reduced to a class 1 misdemeanor. You could face up to 1 year in jail with no prior convictions. The period of incarceration will be higher if you have prior convictions.

Regardless of the type of drug or the quantity, it is crucial to retain a lawyer who understands how to build a strong defense given the particular circumstances of your case.


All crimes must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor will need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) you knowingly, (2) possessed a prohibited drug, and (3) the substance in question was the prohibited drug. It isn’t enough to be located where drugs have been found. The prosecutor will need to present evidence that connects you to the drugs in question so that there is a reasonable inference you knew about the drugs and possessed them and had control over them. Additionally, the drug will need to be tested by a forensic lab. The scientist who does the testing will need to testify that the substance is what the prosecution claims it is.

We may be able to mount a defense on the grounds that your possession wasn’t knowing. The State has to prove your knowing possession beyond a reasonable doubt. It may be appropriate to try to raise reasonable doubt about your knowledge. The circumstances will determine how our lawyers establish doubt regarding whether your possession was knowing.

Procedural and constitutional defenses may be appropriate. For instance, the Fourth Amendment of the United States prohibits illegal searches and seizures. When substances are found in plain view, however, they can be seized. It is important to talk to a knowledgeable attorney about the specific circumstances under which drugs were found in your possession.

There are also instances in which drug possession is charged as trafficking based on the quantity of drugs found. When the weight of drugs is greater than the threshold amount specified for it, you can face charges of drug trafficking, which involves mandatory prison time. The threshold for heroin, for example is 1 gram. It may be appropriate to try to raise reasonable doubt about the quantity of drugs involved or challenge the evidence of the drugs themselves so that you aren’t facing the very harsh penalties of a drug trafficking charges.

Retain Experienced Criminal Defense Counsel

If you are concerned about securing a strong defense for drug possession, you should discuss your situation with our Tempe principal James E. Novak. Mr. Novak develops the strongest available strategies for those accused of drug crimes in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.