FAQs About Drug Charges In Arizona
What Determines Whether A Drug Charge Is Going To Fall Under Misdemeanor Or A Felony?
All drug charges are felonies in Arizona for the most part. A paraphernalia charge or a possession of marijuana charge is considered Class six felonies. Class six felonies are called undesignated offenses in Arizona. They can be designated felonies forever or they can be designated misdemeanors at some point. Sometimes, the state will choose in marijuana or a paraphernalia case to designate it a misdemeanor right off the bat. Those cases will then be charged as misdemeanors from the beginning. However, more commonly, they are charged as felonies and almost every illegal drug or prescription illegal drug is going to be a felony offense. Marijuana is a Class six felony. Dangerous drugs and narcotic drugs are Class four felonies. Those are the most common ones seen in Arizona.
What Would Be A General Timeline For A Drug Related Case To Be Resolved?
The general timeline is not that much different. Misdemeanor drug related cases are very similar to the DUI cases where you are going to have a citation or if you are going to be booked, you are going to have an arraignment where you can plead guilty or not guilty and set it for a pretrial conference. Then you will do that pretrial conference throughout either a trial or a plea.
In the felony world, you are going to get arrested and booked. Sometimes, you will receive a summons in the mail on the lower level offenses and then you will be set for an arraignment, plead not guilty and then set for an initial pretrial conference. At that hearing, further dates in your case will be set. Typically, discovery will be available. In some cases, maybe a plea offer will be available.
After that, the next step is called a comprehensive pretrial conference about thirty days later. That is typically when a plea offer may expire, when negotiations have already taken place back and forth. It is kind of an end of the line day for potentially plea negotiations because your next hearing will be your trial management conference. That is an opportunity for the judge to make sure everybody is ready for trial, that motions have been dealt with, evidence has been given back and forth, witnesses have been subpoenaed and then typically a week or a few later, you would be set for your firm trial date and picking a jury and potentially going forward with a trial at that time. Negotiations can take place throughout all of this time period but as you get closer to trial, you have less likelihood of resolving the case.
What Penalties Are Involved In Drug Related Charges Such As Possession, Sale and Distribution?
One of unique things about Arizona is they have some Proposition 200 offenses. Most drug offenses for possession and for paraphernalia outside of offenses related to methamphetamines are eligible for Proposition 200 sentencing, which is essentially a three-strike system. Your “A” strike, strike one. As long as you accept drug treatments, you have to be placed on probation without any incarcerations. In that case, you would have probation. Typically, there are fines related to drug transactions. There are typically statutory fines or sometimes, depending upon the value or rate of the drug, the fine would be dependent on that as well.
In the second possession of Proposition 200 offenses, it is called F-strike or strike two. These are just based on the subsections of the statute but strike two is also mandatory probation. A judge can impose a shorter jail term on strike two offenses. Finally, once you are beyond your first two strikes, then you are back in to the normal penalties for whatever the offense is, felony or misdemeanor, where prison may be available in a felony case. Jail may be available in those cases so you would not be subject to mandatory probation anymore.
Sale cases typically do not fall under Proposition 200 that is more of possession than sale. Sale cases come with sometimes short incarcerations upfront, sometimes lengthy incarcerations, depending on the amount of drugs involved and the type. Fines can be higher and are going to be closely monitored on probation. There is typically going to be drug testing in any of these cases where if you do not test clean, your release could be revoked or additional incarceration could be imposed. Those are some of the typical penalties seen in these cases.
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