Drug use seems to be a never-ending problem in Arizona. If you were sitting in one of Arizona’s courts devoted solely to the resolution of drugs cases, the lines would resemble those at Disneyland. It is common for an Arizona court to handle over 100 drugs cases in a day. In practical terms, people are being made into felons for drug charges at an alarming rate. Here are some frequently asked questions about Arizona drug crimes.
What does it mean when the State of Arizona says the drugs were over the threshold amount?
When drugs are possessed in sufficient amounts, Arizona law requires mandatory prison. Each drug has a different specified amount that triggers a mandatory prison sentence. The specified amount is called the “threshold” amount. However, simply because you are found with an amount above the threshold that does not automatically mean you are going to prison. The issues of whether the amount of the drugs found is over the threshold amount is commonly debated and confronted.
What are the most common illegal drugs prosecuted in Arizona?
Marijuana, Hashish, Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, Methamphetamine (meth), Heroin, Opium, LSD, PCP, psilocybin mushrooms, and ecstasy (MDMA).
What does it mean when I am charged with possession for sale by the State of Arizona?
If you have been found in possession of larger amounts of drugs, then the State may claim you possessed the drugs to sell. The most common example is being found in possession of several pounds of marijuana. Law enforcement will inevitably claim that this much marijuana was more than needed for personal use. However, usually more than just mere quantity is needed to support this claim. Law enforcement will look for what they term “indicia of sale.” This usually includes items such as scales, baggies, currency, etc… Unless, of course, the quantity is so great that is not possible that the drugs are for personal use. For example, if you are found with 100 kilos of cocaine, it unlikely that such an amount is for personal use.
What if I was just a passenger in a car in which drugs were found?
There is no crime in Arizona of “guilt by association,” but there is something close to it. Arizona law makes a distinction between ownership andpossession of drugs. You do not have to own drugs to be guilty of possession of drugs. In addition, more than one person can posses drugs at the same time. For example, if you are driving a car and a person has drugs in their pocket, it is unlikely that you possessed the drugs. You did not have access to them, nor could you exercise any control over them. On the other hand, if you are driving a car and there is three pounds of marijuana sitting on the consol then it may be determined that both you and the passenger “constructively” possessed the drugs. You both had knowledge and the ability to control the drugs. However, there will still be a debate as to whether you were “merely present” while someone else possessed the drugs – which is not a crime.
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