What is the Penalty for Drug Possession in Arizona?
The penalties for drug possession vary based on the type of drug possessed, the quantity possessed, and the intent of the individual possessing it. While there has been a recent push to decriminalize drug addiction and abuse, there have been renewed efforts to tackle trafficking and related offenses. Arizona continues to lock people up for possessing illegal drugs, so hiring an attorney to fight drug possession charges in Arizona can prevent the charges from endangering your future plans.
What is Drug Possession in Arizona?
AZ §13-3408 makes it unlawful to possess a “narcotic” drug, sell a narcotic drug, or manufacture a narcotic drug. It is further unlawful to attempt to acquire a narcotic drug by fraud or deceit, such as tricking doctors or pharmacists.
If a person “possesses a narcotic drug,” they are guilty of a class-4 felony. If a person possesses equipment or chemicals for manufacturing narcotic drugs, they are guilty of a class-3 felony. All other crimes associated with drug possession are considered class-2 felonies under Arizona law.
Class-4 felonies are the least serious and carry sentencing ranges between 1 and 3.9 years in state prison. A class-3 felony falls between 3 and 8.75 years. A class-2 felony falls between 5 and 12.5 years.
Classifications of Controlled Substances in Arizona
Arizona categorizes controlled substances into sub-classes which are generally considered more or less dangerous. The following are some of these controlled substances under the law.
Peyote – It is unlawful to possess peyote unless you are using it for a religious ceremony and can establish that you are not a threat to others. Possession of peyote is a class-6 felony with a sentencing range between four months and two years.
Inhalants – It may not be a crime to possess an inhalant like computer duster, but it is a crime to possess it for the purposes of intoxication. A defendant can face a class-5 felony.
Narcotics – Narcotics are defined as “hard drugs” like cocaine and heroin. Meth and related speeds would fall under this category as well. Possession of narcotics is considered a class-4 felony in Arizona.
Possession of marijuana under AZ §13-3408 is still illegal in quantities of more than an ounce. You can face a $100 fine for possession of marijuana between 1 ounce and 2.5 ounces. Possession of between 2.5 ounces and 2 pounds is considered a class-6 felony, even under the revised statutes. Four or more pounds is considered a class-4 felony. For more information on the legal possession of marijuana, click here.
Mental Health Diversion in Tempe Drug Possession Cases
Today, prosecutors are taking a more holistic look at the offender and not just the offense. In cases where mental health and substance abuse intervention would likely be effective at reducing criminal behavior, the court can consider mental health court or “drug court” as an alternative to the criminal justice system of prosecution and incarceration.
As of right now, the county prosecutor has the discretion to divert prosecutions to mental health court. Today, it is much more likely to have a “narcotic” charge moved to mental health court than ever before. This is largely because of the opioid epidemic and the costs related to treating addiction. For the first time, addicts are not (necessarily) being held individually responsible for their addiction. To learn more about this program, click here.
Serious Mental Illness Diversion in Tempe, AZ
The Serious Mental Illness Felony Diversion Program (SMI-FDP) is a behavioral treatment program for adults charged with lower-level felonies, including drug offenses, disorderly conduct, and related criminal activity.
The Role of Alternative Resolution in the Criminal Justice System
The law is now becoming more sensitive to issues of mental illness, drug addiction, and related concerns. Today, it is less likely that an individual with untreated mental illness will face criminal consequences relating to a psychotic or manic episode. The priority has shifted to rehabilitating those who can be rehabilitated and punishing those who intended cruelty.
However, those who are offered diversion programs must meet treatment goals, take their medication as prescribed, and avoid relapse. If they do not, they may end up facing the original charges.
Talk to a Tempe, AZ Drug Possession Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with drug possession in Arizona, the stakes are quite high. A conviction will remain on your record indefinitely and potentially cost you your job and other opportunities down the road. Singular Law Group can help you fight the charges or secure a resolution that does not include prison time. Call today to learn more.