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Arizona Possession of Dangerous Drugs Laws: What You Need to Know

Possession of dangerous drugs is taken very seriously in Arizona. With strict laws and harsh penalties, it’s important to understand the specifics if you find yourself facing charges. This article provides an overview of key aspects of Arizona possession laws—outlining the charges, possible defenses, and what to expect if convicted.

What Constitutes “Possession” in Arizona

Simply having drugs in your vicinity can lead to possession charges in Arizona. The state uses “constructive possession” laws, meaning prosecutors don’t have to prove the drugs were actually on your person. If they were in your home, car, locker, etc. and the state believes you exercised “dominion or control” over them, you could face charges.

This means anyone with access to the area where drugs were found could be charged. Roommates, relatives, friends – even if the drugs aren’t actually yours, you could still be held responsible if they were found on property you co-inhabit.

Types of Drug Possession Charges

Several statutes in Arizona Revised Statutes Title 13 cover drug possession crimes. The most common charges include:

  • Dangerous drug possession – For illegal substances like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc. Felony charges ranging from 4th to 2nd degree.
  • Marijuana possession – Misdemeanor or felony possession of cannabis products. Depends on amount and prior offenses.
  • Prescription drug possession – When prescription medications are possessed without a valid prescription. Can be a misdemeanor or felony.

Possession of drug paraphernalia (like pipes, bongs, etc.) is also illegal in Arizona.

Arizona Drug Possession Penalties

The specific penalty you face depends on the type and amount of drugs, along with your criminal history. Generally, possible sentences include:

  • Misdemeanor – Fines up to $150,000 plus surcharges, and/or up to 1 year in county jail.
  • Low-level felony – Minimum 1 year in state prison, fines up to $150,000 plus surcharges.
  • High-level felony – Prison sentence of 3+ years up to life, fines up to $150,000 plus surcharges.

Probation may be possible for some first-time offenders. But Arizona has mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug crimes, so judges have limited leeway.

Defenses Against Arizona Drug Possession Charges

While Arizona possession laws are broad, several legal defenses could lead to reduced or dismissed charges:

  • Lack of possession – Argue the drugs were not actually in your custody or control.
  • Lack of knowledge – Claim you were unaware the drugs were present. Difficult defense that requires proof.
  • Medical marijuana – Valid medical marijuana cardholders can possess permitted cannabis products.
  • Involuntary intoxication – Argue you unknowingly ingested drugs against your will.
  • Entrapment – Police improperly induced you to commit possession crime.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can assess whether any defenses apply in your specific case.

What Happens After an Arizona Drug Conviction

Beyond fines and jail time, a drug conviction can negatively impact your life for years to come. Consequences include:

  • Criminal record – Felonies remain on your record permanently, while misdemeanors stay on for 5 years. This can reduce job, housing, loan, and other life opportunities.
  • Loss of rights – Convicted felons lose gun ownership and voting rights, along with other restrictions. Some rights can be restored after completion of all sentencing terms.
  • Probation – Terms often include mandatory drug testing and treatment, along with other supervisory conditions.
  • Civil asset forfeiture – Police can seize cash, vehicles, or property suspected of being connected to drug activity. Even without a conviction.

These consequences demonstrate the value of building the strongest defense possible against possession charges.

Working with a Arizona Drug Crimes Lawyer

If you or a loved one faces drug possession charges, don’t go it alone. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can carefully examine the details of your case, advise you on possible defenses, represent your best interests in court, and help mitigate penalties if convicted.

Take advantage of a free case evaluation to discuss your options with a legal professional. Small details can sometimes make a huge difference in these types of cases. So whether you intend to plead innocent or guilty, you need an attorney on your side fighting to protect your rights and future. Don’t leave it to chance.

Schedule Your Consultation Now