The serious nature of drug possession charges

Arizona does not mess around when it comes to drug crimes. While other states are relaxing their laws related to the recreational use of marijuana, Arizona lawmakers and voters continue to hold firm. With some of the strictest laws and toughest penalties in the country, those in this state facing even simple possession charges have a right to be concerned about their futures.

If police recently charged you with drug possession, your first action may be to learn as much as you can about the laws and the process you may face going forward. The outcome of your circumstances may rest in the difference between a few ounces.

Felony charges for drug possession

There is no blanket law for drug possession. Each state has statutes that detail the level of offense for the possession of the different types of illegal substances. Additionally, the severity of the charges against you depends on the amount of drugs police say were in your possession and whether there is evidence that you intended to sell or distribute the drugs.

In most cases, possession of any illegal substance is a felony in Arizona. Any amount of marijuana under two pounds, for example, is a Class 6 felony, a very low-level felony, but a felony count nonetheless. You may be able to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor, but if police believe you grew it yourself or that you were selling it to others, the felony may rise to a Class 4 or 5.

Possible penalties

Possessing other drugs, such as cocaine, meth or heroin, may be Class 4 felonies and may come with any of the following penalties for convictions:

  • Fines: You may pay $2,000 or more, up to three times the value of the drugs allegedly in your possession
  • Jail: The court may sentence you to up to one year in jail for a first offense.
  • Repeat offenders: You may face nearly four years in jail for a subsequent offense of possession of marijuana, but up to 15 years for a third or higher conviction of a narcotic.

Of course, having a felony drug conviction on your record can impede you in many ways after you have completed your sentence and paid your fine. You may find it impossible to find meaningful work, and you may struggle financially for the rest of your life.

One of the first factors your defense may include is whether you were aware of the presence of drugs and if you had control over them. A skilled attorney will examine this and other elements of the case and help you develop a course of action that is most appropriate with the goal of reaching the best possible resolution for your situation.

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