Phoenix’s drug charges can carry stiff penalties as Arizona is a state known for its tough drug laws. Whether you are facing minor charges such as possession or more significant charges such as distribution, knowing the Phoenix drug charges laws is critical to helping you better understand and prepare your case.
Will I be charged with a felony or misdemeanor?
Whether your offense will be classified as a felony or misdemeanor will depend on the type of charge that the prosecutor’s office is seeking, based on the particulars of your case. In general, Arizona considers most drug charges to be felonies, though they can fall into one of several levels of felonies depending on the perceived severity.
Class six felonies in the state of Arizona are often given for offenses that are not designated. They also can be changed to misdemeanor charges or remain a felony conviction on your record forever. An example of an offense that may warrant a Class six felony is the possession of marijuana.
While the prosecutor will often start by charging you with a misdemeanor for either possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use or possession of paraphernalia, they will commonly change the charge to a felony before it goes to trial.
Felony charges can be laid no matter the drug. All illegal drugs and illegal prescription drugs can warrant a felony offense. More dangerous drugs and drugs listed as narcotics will often be classified as a Class four felony in the state.
How long do cases take to be resolved?
If your drug charge is considered a misdemeanor offense or starts as one, you can expect it to run the same course that a DUI would. You will either receive a citation or be arrested and booked into the local jail. If you are booked, you can expect to have an arraignment the next day court is in session, where you will be able to make your plea and schedule a pretrial conference. If you are not booked, you will receive a summons for your arraignment in the mail. You will then make a plea deal or move through the trial process.
If you are charged with a felony, you will be arrested and booked unless your offense is lower. If it is a lower offense, you will receive a summons in the mail for your arrangement. The rest of the case will proceed like a misdemeanor charge, though there will likely be a discovery portion involved.
The pretrial conference will typically occur within thirty days of your arraignment. Then there will be a lot of back and forth between your attorney and the prosecutor to either secure a plea deal or make sure you are ready to take your case to trial. Typically, this process will take a few weeks but can drag on for longer if negotiations continue, or the judge feels that both parties aren’t ready for trial. Once your case goes to trial, you can expect it to take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks from jury selection through the conclusion.
What penalties can I face for drug-related charges?
Penalties for drug charges are somewhat unique in Phoenix due to the Proposition 200 sentencing guidelines. For example, a charge for possession of paraphernalia that is not related to methamphetamine can qualify under the Proposition 200 sentencing guidelines.
Under these guidelines, offenders face a three-strike system. The first strike can result in only probation and fines if drug treatment is sought.
With your second strike, you will receive mandatory probation and be eligible for a shorter jail sentence. Third strikes and higher will put you back under the regular sentencing guidelines, which can include prison time on any felony charge.
Drug charges related to selling are not eligible for sentencing under Proposition 200. They can result in shorter jail sentences or longer prison sentences, depending on the number of previous offenses, the type of drugs involved, and the quantity of the drugs included in the charge. You still may be sentenced to probation, but it will require close monitoring and drug testing. Any positive test during probation is likely to result in revocation and incarceration.
What do I do if I have drug charges in Phoenix?
If you have been charged with any type of drug-related charges in Phoenix, retaining the services of an experienced attorney is critical. By retaining an attorney right away, you can ensure that your rights are properly represented. In addition, your attorney will be able to walk you through the process, negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf, or prepare you for trial so you can achieve the best possible outcome.