Arizona Drug Crime Defense Attorney
Americans’ attitudes toward drug use and possession are ever changing. Younger individuals tend to see nothing wrong with consuming and possessing small amounts of marijuana. Even older Americans are beginning to support measures to legalize possession of some small amounts of marijuana. Those who do not support drug possession and use may still disagree with current laws that punish those found in possession of drugs with prison sentences.
Unfortunately, current state and federal laws have not generally caught up with public sentiment. In Arizona and elsewhere, possession of certain drugs is still a criminal offense. This is true even if the amount of the drug is small, is for personal use, or was purchased legally in another state. Depending on the drug and its weight, drug offenses can result in a prison sentences and/or fines. Even if you are placed on probation or supervision, you can expect stringent restrictions placed on you that must be met.
After being charged with a drug crime, you may be tempted to admit guilt or comply with the police, either believing you have been caught “red-handed” or thinking that your offense is not that serious. Instead, you should contact The Ferragut Law Firm and speak with an experienced Arizona drug crime attorney. There may be ways to reduce your charges, mitigate the penalties you are facing, or eliminate the charges all together.
Arizona Drug Crime Descriptions
Aside from simple possession of a drug, there are a number of other drug-related charges that you may face. Most of these charges are premised on the idea of being in “possession” of prohibited items. “Possession” has a specific legal definition: knowingly exercising dominion or physical control over the item. Thus, you may be charged and convicted of “possessing” an item that belongs to a passenger in your car or guest in your house if the government can prove that you knew that the other person had drugs or illegal items and you were in a position where you could exercise control over the item. For example, you can be convicted of drug possession if you pick up a friend who places a baggie of cocaine on the dashboard between the two of you in your view – even if you never touch the cocaine.
Some of the most common drug-related crimes that are charged and prosecuted in Arizona include:
- Possession of illegal drugs: Being found in possession of illegal drugs can include possessing any quantity of marijuana, narcotics such as cocaine and heroin, and/or possessing dangerous drugs like methamphetamine, ecstasy and clonazepam. In the case of marijuana, your sentence can depend on the quantity of drugs.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia: Drug paraphernalia includes items used to store, ingest, conceal, or perform other actions with drugs. Common types of paraphernalia include pipes, bongs, syringes, baggies, and scales. Penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia are increased where the paraphernalia is used to manufacture, cultivate, and/or distribute a drug (such as a scale and lamps used to grow marijuana).
- Distribution of illegal drugs: Distribution of drugs can describe not only the sale of drugs but any other transfer of drugs from one person to another. If you share marijuana with a friend, for example, you have “distributed” drugs. Monetary compensation is not necessary to sustain a conviction for drug distribution. Additional penalties can be imposed if you are found to be distributing a drug in a school zone.
- Prescription-drug offenses: Common criminal acts relating to prescription drugs include possessing or using a drug that is only available by prescription if you do not have a valid prescription for it and can include using or possessing another person’s prescription drug.
- Using communication facilities to arrange a drug transaction: It is a criminal act to use a communication device (most commonly a telephone or cellular telephone) to assist you in arranging a drug-related transaction. Sending a text message to another person indicating where to meet to exchange drugs is one of the most common way in which these laws are violated.
How Can I Win My Arizona Drug Crime Case?
Winning against charges of drug possession or other drug-related crimes requires a careful investigation of the facts, including the actions of police. This is why it is important to retain knowledgeable counsel as soon as possible after being arrested and/or charged. The police will want to use any evidence they can – including any statements that you or anyone found with you make – to support drug-related charges.
Mr. Ferragut is a highly skilled and aggressive Arizona drug-offense attorney who can investigate whether any of the following defenses apply to your situation:
- Did you know about the drugs? In order for you to be found guilty of a possession charge, there must be evidence that you knew that the items found were drugs and/or paraphernalia.
- Did you have dominion or control over the drugs? This requires evidence that the drugs and/or paraphernalia were in such a place that you could have controlled what happened to the drugs and/or paraphernalia.
- Were the drugs prohibited by statute? It may sound simple, but the State must prove that whatever drug you were found to be in possession of was a drug prohibited by Arizona law. If the prosecution fails to make this important showing, your case may result in a verdict of “not guilty.” Be careful, however, as the prosecution can use any statements you make (such as statements acknowledging the substance is a drug or is illegal) to support its charge. You do not have to answer questions if you are detained or even if you are arrested.
- Did the police overstep their authority? In many drug crime cases, evidence of drugs and/or paraphernalia is found as the result of a search. You do not have to let police or other law enforcement officers into your home or business unless they have a warrant. Demand to see the warrant. If they have a search warrant, you cannot stop them from entering and searching your home or business. Do not answer any questions and request to contact an attorney. If the search is conducted in an improper manner, or in a way that violates your constitutional rights, then certain evidence may be prohibited from being admitted into evidence at a hearing or trial. This can result in the prosecution being unable to proceed with its case.
- Is there any doubt as to the identification of the drugs? If the police did not properly test the supposed illegal drugs and do not have any evidence that the substances are in fact illegal drugs, your case may result in a “not guilty” verdict or dismissal of the charges.
Deferred Prosecution is Available for Certain Offenders
Many jurisdictions in Arizona also have a “deferred prosecution” program for which some defendants charged with drug-related crimes may qualify. Under this program, you would complete certain requirements such as classes and refrain from further drug use or receiving drug-related charges for a certain period of time. At the end of this period, if you have complied with all the terms and conditions then your charges would be dismissed and you would not be responsible for any further penalties for that charge. We can help you determine if you qualify for these programs and can help you request them.
Contact the Ferragut Law Firm for Help
Your first step after being charged with a drug-related charge is contacting an Arizona drug crime defense attorney. Ulises A. Ferragut, Jr. with the Ferragut Law Firm has helped many clients successfully defend themselves against drug charges. The sooner you contact him, the more he is able to help restore your freedom and good name. Contact the Ferragut Law Firm today for help by calling 602-324-5300 or 602-370-4597 (nights and weekends).