Mesa Narcotics Trafficking Criminal Defense
In Arizona, a person may be found guilty of narcotics transportation for sale under A.R.S. 13-3408 (A) (2) if they are knowingly in possession of a narcotic for sale.
Narcotics transportation for sale offenses, known as narcotics trafficking charges, are Class 2 Felonies ranking them among one of the most serious of Arizona drug crimes.
A person charged with drug trafficking is exposed to harsh prison terms, large fines, and life altering consequences.
The prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable all elements of the charge. This includes a showing that the defendant knew or should have known that they were in possession of narcotics for the purpose of illegal sales.
Below are additional facts, questions and answers regarding drug trafficking laws, your rights, and hiring a criminal defense attorney to help you resolve your charges.Why was I arrested for narcotics trafficking?
The most common reason a person is charged with narcotics trafficking is due to the amount of drugs found in their possession.
The reasoning behind this is that if a person is in possession of more drugs than what might be considered typical for personal use, then it likely that they are transporting it for sale.
In addition to the amounts may believe they have probable cause to make an arrest for drug transportation for sale because of one or more of the following reasons:
- Law enforcement officials received an anonymous tip.
- A person who was involved in a prior drug crime entered an agreement to act as a drug crime informant for police.
- A law enforcement officer suspected while conducting undercover operations.
- Law enforcement officers conducted a mass sting operation.
- Police engaged in drug courier profiling, and identified the suspect as such.
Drug courier profiling is a practice in which police and drug enforcement officers identify those who they suspect engaging in drug trafficking. It entails observing a person’s activities, symbols displayed, and specific behaviors commonly associated those engaged in drug trafficking activities.What are the penalties for narcotics transportation for sale?
Sentencing for drug trafficking convictions calls for prison terms that range from 3 years to 21 depending on the classification and circumstances involved.
Monetary fines are ordered at the discretion of the court of at least $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the drug involved in the crime. The maximum amount that can be imposed for felony drug fines range up to $150,000.00 per person, and $1,000,000 per venture.
Other consequences include, but are not limited to a felony criminal record, loss of certain rights such as the right to bear arms and vote in the general elections.
Sentencing for first time narcotics transportation convictions could potentially fall into one of the seven ranges, with 1 being the least, and 7 being the most severe:
- Mitigated factors - 3 year prison terms
- Minimum sentencing - 4 year prison terms
- Presumptive sentencing – 5 year prison terms
- Maximum – 10 year prison terms
- Aggravated – 12.5 year prison terms
- Exceeds statutory threshold amount - In addition to categories that apply, the defendant is not eligible for probation, suspended sentence, release or pardon until the full sentenced ordered by the court is completed.
- Dangerous Offense - Minimum 7 years, Presumptive 10.5 years, Maximum 21 years
When narcotic trafficking offenses involve the threatening display or discharge of a firearm or other deadly weapon, the crime converts to a dangerous offense under A.R.S. 13 – 105. In these cases more severe prison terms apply on top of the original offense, and the defendant is not eligible for mitigated drug sentencing.What defenses can be used for narcotics trafficking charges?
Both general and specific defenses may be used to challenge narcotics trafficking charges.
Most general defenses are constitutional such as unlawful search and seizure in challenges are violations of a defendant’s rights to due process under the 5th and 14 amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Common challenges to drug charges include police misconduct, violations of police procedures, trial defenses, and statutory defenses.
The defense strategies that apply will be decided by you and your criminal defense attorney, and will be based on circumstances unique to your case. Below are more examples of 10 general and specific defenses for narcotics transportation charges:
- No probable cause for search (Arizona v. Kempton 1990; US Supreme Court v. Gant 200; United States v. Newman 2003)
- No probable cause for arrest (A.R.S. . § 13 – 3883; Arizona v. Evans; US Supreme Court Beck v. Ohio)
- Entrapment (A.R.S. § 13-206; Arizona v. Gray 2016)
- Duress (A.R.S. § 13 – 412; Arizona v. Pedroza –Perez 2015)
- Mistake of fact (A.R.S. § 13 – 204; Arizona v. Guzman-Lea 2016);
- No reasonable suspicion for stop (US Supreme Court Terry v. Ohio; Arizona v. Flores Huez Jr. 2016; Arizona v. Primous 2017;
- No knowledge of narcotics being transported in vehicle- (A.R.S. § 13 – 3408; “Blind Mule” Defense, United States v. Flores)
- Tampering with or planting of evidence – (A.R.S. § 13 – 2809; 5th and 14th Amendment)
- Drug Courier profiling testimony inadmissible (Arizona v. James 2013; Arizona v. Haskie, 2017)
- Insufficient Evidence (Arizona v. Stephens 2014; Arizona v. West 2011; Arizona v. Stroud 2005; Arizona v. Mathers 1990).
It is not unusual for drivers to be charged with drug transportation when they were not aware that they were transporting the drugs. When this happens, the person charged will find it necessary to defend their charges just the same as one else who knew they were transporting the drugs.
These and any challenges use to defend narcotics trafficking charges should be made by an experienced and qualified criminal defense attorney. James Novak of the Law Office of James Novak is a highly skilled and experienced narcotic trafficking attorney, and former prosecutor for Maricopa County. For qualified legal representation for your charges contact or call (480) 413-1499.What Possible Resolutions Exist for Drug Trafficking Charges?
You have the right to take your case to trial. In Maricopa County about 98 percent of criminal cases are resolved without a trial. A majority of these are drug cases.
The reason for this is that many defendants wish to avoid the risk and uncertainties of trial, and eliminate the potential of being sentenced to harsh penalties or maximums, if convicted.
The most favorable resolution for criminal charges is to get them dismissed. Depending on the evidence and circumstances of the incident, charges can sometimes be dismissed. However, if a dismissal of charges is not possible, an experienced criminal defense attorney like James Novak, of the Law Office of James Novak, can pursue a number of other remedies to resolve drug charges. Below are 7 potential methods of resolution that may apply in Arizona:
- Deferred Prosecution – A person eligible for deferred prosecution is extended an offer to participate in a special rehabilitation program. After successful completion of the program, the criminal charges will be dismissed. This will not result in a criminal conviction unless the defendant does not satisfactorily complete the program.
- Adult Drug Court – This program requires a person to enter a guilty plea. After completion of a drug treatment program the conviction is lowered. This often results in a felony being reduced to a misdemeanor.
- Plea Agreement - This program also requires a person to enter a plea of guilt. In return the prosecution agrees to recommend more favorable sentencing. More favorable sentences can include avoidance of jail or prison; elimination of maximum prison terms; reduction of felonies to misdemeanors; reduction of fines; use of less harsh sentencing ranges, or reduction of incarceration terms.
- Lowering Criminal Classification - Challenges can be made to help a person avoid “dangerous offender” sentencing if they can provide a showing that a weapon was not threateningly displayed or used in a crime. A person can also avoid “aggravated sentencing” if the defense can provide a showing that the aggravated factors did not exist.
- Probation Eligible - If the amount of narcotics involved in a crime equal or exceeds Arizona’s Threshold Amount under A.R.S. 13 – 3401, the person is not eligible for probation, early release from prison, suspension of sentence, or pardon. If it can be successfully shown that the amount of the narcotic involved in the crime did not equal or exceed the Threshold Amount, these restrictions will not apply.
- Deferred Sentencing – This is similar to deferred prosecution. However, it involves probation instead of, or along with a treatment program. After a satisfactory completion of a probationary period, charges may be dismissed.
- Trial - In Maricopa County, on average about 2 percent of cases are resolved in this manner, if charges cannot be dismissed or otherwise resolved. A jury trial is generally available for those charged with felony narcotics transportation for sale offenses. If a person is convicted of the charges at trial, in most cases they have the option of appealing the decision to a higher court.
Yes, you have rights at a police stop.
If you properly invoke your rights, there is a greater chance that you will preserve them, as well as your future defenses in the event you are arrested.
There are also things you should do in any situation where you are stopped by police. Failure to do these things can result in an immediate arrest or additional charges.
What takes place at a stop will have a significant impact on your defense if you are subsequently arrested. There are things you should and should not do at a police stop.
Here are 7 things to keep in mind if police stop you with reasonable suspicion that you violated the law:
- 1) The right to remain silent: Under the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution, you have the right to remain silent in order avoid self-incrimination. You do not have to answer questions about where you are going, or whether or not drugs are in your vehicle. To help preserve your rights and defenses you should not make any statements and admissions no matter how innocent they may seem. In order to invoke your right to remain silent, simply let officers know that you know your rights and wish to invoke them. If you remain silent without letting them know you are invoking your constitutional rights, you will be perceived by the police and potential jurors as being uncooperative.
- 2) Comply with lawful orders: To avoid additional charges, you should always pull over for the stop, and comply with the law enforcement officer’s lawful orders. Upon request you will need to provide driver’s license, registration, and insurance information.
- 3) Answer routine questions: If police pull you under the suspicion that you have violated the law, you are required to answer routine questions about your identity.
- 4) No search warrant, no search: In Arizona you have the right to refuse a vehicle search. It is never a good idea to allow one without a warrant. One reason for this is that there may be self-incriminating evidence that you were not aware was in your vehicle. If you choose to allow them to conduct a search, police will ask you to sign the consent. If you choose to sign it, be sure read it and are fully aware of the terms... Most vehicle search consents include a search of all voids inside and outside the vehicle, and drug K-9 search.
- 5) Cooperate with police arrest procedures – If police decide to arrest you or take you into custody, it is because they feel they have probable cause to do so. You should cooperate with routine arrest procedures including booking, and fingerprinting. Failure to do so can result in additional charges, and even physical harm.
- 6) Refrain from being overly cooperative – Arizona Courts have held that a police stop should take no longer than is required to complete the mission of the stop. If that time has passed, and you are engaging in voluntary discussion beyond that, then the detention is considered to be consensual.
- 7) Contact a criminal defense attorney: As soon as reasonably possible following your arrest you should consult a qualified criminal defense attorney regarding your charges and options for defense.
In order to make a lawful stop, police are required to have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is in progress. Without it, the stop is unlawful. Generally, if police suspect you may be transporting narcotics for sale, they will usually stop you for something else. For example they may advise you that you have a headlight out; failed to use your turn signal, or ran a stop sign.How can a Criminal Attorney Help Resolve My Drug Charges Mesa AZ?
If you were charged or arrested for a narcotics transportation for sale offense, that does not mean you are guilty. No matter how serious the drug offense may seem, you have the right to hire an attorney to defend your charges.
It is important that you to everything possible to avoid self-incrimination protect your rights, and retaining a qualified criminal defenses attorney as soon as possible to represent you.
James Novak is an experienced drug defense attorney, and former Maricopa County Prosecutor. If retained he will evaluate your case to determine if your rights were violated; explore the best defense strategies that will apply; and look to obtain favorable evidence in your case.
James Novak, of the Law Office of James Novak will be your voice in the criminal justice system. He provides a proactive defense, and will personally handle all aspects of your case. James Novak will work hard to obtain the best possible resolution to your charges.
Drug Defense Attorney James Novak offers a free consultation for those who face active criminal charges in Mesa, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert, Tempe, and Scottsdale Arizona.
To find out how to obtain criminal defense representation for your drug charges or call James Novak today at (480) 413-1499.