Drug offenses are considered serious offenses in the state of Arizona, and are often aggressively prosecuted. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, there were more than 25,000 drug possession arrests in 2012 alone. Those who are found in possession of dangerous drugs, or other illegal substances, could face serious penalties if they are convicted.
For legal purposes in the state of Arizona, illegal drugs are generally separated into three categories – dangerous drugs, narcotics and marijuana. Dangerous drugs are illegal substances other than marijuana and prescription narcotics. This includes methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, PCP and LSD. Additionally, prescription medications used as pain medication or as antidepressants may also be considered dangerous drugs.
Depending on the circumstances, possession of a dangerous drug in Arizona may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, according to Arizona state law. In general, possession of a dangerous drug is a class four felony. As such, people could face a prison sentence of between 18 months and three years, if convicted. Those who have previous convictions of this charge could face enhanced penalties. In some cases, first time offenders may be charged with a class one misdemeanor. This option is not available, however, in cases involving LSD, PCD, amphetamines and methamphetamines. Although still a serious charge, the potential penalties for a class one misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous drug are not as severe as those associated with a felony charge. If convicted of misdemeanor possession of a dangerous drug, people could be fined up to $2,500 and be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail.
Whether they are charged with felony possession of a dangerous drug, or with a misdemeanor offense, drug charges can have a significant impact on a person’s future. As such, those facing such charges may find it of benefit to obtain legal representation. An attorney may ensure that their rights are upheld, as well as explain their options and help them to establish a criminal defense.