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Understanding Drug Possession Laws in Arizona

Something as simple as having someone else’s prescription drugs or even just drug paraphernalia in your possession can change your life forever.

In Arizona, there are tough laws regulating drug possession, with many of them resulting in a felony charge if convicted. It is important to understand the laws governing drug possession and what penalties you may face if you are charged with possession of illegal drugs in Arizona.

Types of Arizona Drug Possession Laws

Being found in possession of a controlled substance such as narcotics or marijuana is illegal in Arizona and most states. However, there are different laws for different types of possession. Some drug possession charges may only result in a misdemeanor while others are felonies that can have stiffer sentences, including significant jail time. The four main drug possession laws in Arizona include possession of marijuana, possession of a dangerous drug, possession of drugs for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. Here are the basics on these laws and the consequences of being convicted of these charges.

  • Possession of Marijuana. It is against the law in Arizona to consume or possess any amount of marijuana. This criminalization of marijuana use is outlined in A.R.S. §13-3405(A)(1). This includes any form of marijuana, including the buds, THC concentrates, edibles and wax. For possession of marijuana under two-pounds, this is a Class (6) felony which can have a penalty of up to 5.75 years of prison for those with prior felonies. Possession of over two-pounds of marijuana is a Class (5) felony, with up to 7.5 years of prison, and possession of over four-pounds is considered a Class (4) felony with a penalty of up to 15 years of incarceration. Those convicted of possession of marijuana also face fines of up to three times of the value of the amount of marijuana in possession.
  • Possession of a Dangerous Drug. Under A.R.S. §13-3407, use or possession of any drug besides marijuana that is classified as “dangerous” is a Class (4) felony. This includes narcotics such as opium, methamphetamine, cocaine, certain prescription drugs and mushrooms. If convicted of possession or use of a dangerous drug, defendants can face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to three times the value of the drug they possess or $1,000, whichever is higher.
  • Possession of a Drug for Sale. Under Arizona law, if a person is considered to have drugs in their possession with the intent to sell or transport to sell, they can face higher penalties than standard use or possession. The penalties are outlined under A.R.S §13-3407(A)(2) and A.R.S §13-3407(A)(7), though the definition of what is considered intent to sell is lacking. Generally, it is the amount of drugs in possession that can lead to this charge. If the amount of drugs in possession meet the threshold amounts under the law, a person can be charged with a Class (2) felony with up to 35 years in prison, with mandatory prison time for any conviction.
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Even if a person does not have drugs in their possession, paraphernalia associated with drug use or manufacturing can lead to a felony charge in Arizona. Under A.R.S §13-3415, possession of any item that is used to inhale, ingest, inject, plant, process, use or prepare a drug in any way is illegal. This can lead to a Class (6) felony, with up to 5.75 years of prison time.

Defense for Drug Possession Charges in Arizona

Conviction for a drug possession charge in Arizona can alter a person’s life forever. However, there are options available for defense that can lead to the charges being lowered to a misdemeanor, only probation or dismissed altogether. For most drug possession charges without the intent to sell, first and second time offenders may only be required to serve probation and pay a fine. Under Proposition 200, certain drugs qualify for “probation only.” Another option is qualifying for the TASC (Treatment Assessment Screening Center) Adult Deferred Prosecution Program, which can dismiss the charges with completion of a treatment program.

Complete dismissal of any drug possession charge is always the best outcome for someone in this position. This is possible with the help of an experienced attorney that understands the best options when fighting these types of charges. Demonstrating lack of knowledge of the drugs in possession, a violation of Miranda rights and many other defenses can be used to have the charges reduced or dismissed.

At Matthew Lopez Law, we are your advocates when it comes to fighting drug possession charges in Arizona. If you have been charged with any type of drug possession or intent to sell or transport drugs, we can help you find the best solution to protect your freedom and future. Call us for a free consultation – it is worth your time to secure the best outcome for your situation.

The materials provided herein have been prepared by Matthew Lopez Law for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. No client or other reader should rely on or act or refrain from acting on the basis of any matter or information contained in on the website of Matthew Lopez Law without seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.

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