How Long Have You Been Handling Drug Charges In Arizona?
As a defense attorney for almost four years and a total of almost nine years in the legal profession, I’ve prosecuted hundreds of drug crimes in my time at the county attorney’s office. I have experience with knowing the policies and which types of crimes are important to the prosecution agencies and also when there are issues with these cases. I also know which types of issues prosecutors are more likely to renegotiate or consider plea offers on because they don’t want to deal with those issues or they don’t want to battle those legal issues. Indeed, a motion or a hearing helps sometimes to get a better plea resolution without having to force the case through to trial.
What Are The Common Types Of Drug Offenses That You Handle?
Most commonly, I see a lot of personal possession cases, where people are being charged with possessing an illegal drug just for their personal use. But I’ve seen an uptake in cases charged for drug sales that aren’t necessarily larger amounts of drugs or bigger players in the drug trafficking industry but people that have a large amount of drugs for their personal use, either because they stocked up or because they have a spouse, partner or roommate that also uses. Or in some cases, individuals become small time dealers where they buy large amounts to keep on hand; and then when they find themselves short on cash, they can sell small amounts to their friends or people that they know who also use.
How Is A Drug Offense Determined To Be A Misdemeanor Or A Felony In Arizona?
Most illegal drug possession in Arizona is a felony, and there are only a few that straddle the line between misdemeanor and felony, and those are what we call Class VI felony offenses in Arizona. It’s actually the same for any Class VI felony, whether it’s drug-related or not, but it’s what we call an undesignated offense. So after a Class VI felony conviction, at some point in the process, it can either be designated a felony forever, left undesignated so it’s not a felony or a misdemeanor forever, or it could be designated as a misdemeanor forever. The undesignated status can allow a felony to go either way at the end.
We see this most often in drug crimes that involve possession of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia; these are the Class VI charges that we see very regularly, and they can be charged as felonies, later designated as misdemeanors or the state can decide to designate them as misdemeanors right off the bat. Misdemeanor cases can be prosecuted in some city and municipal courts, as well as justice courts because they handle misdemeanor matters. So it’s a prosecutorial charging decision to decide where to send it and how serious the crime is.
If the state wants to keep it in superior court, which would be a felony, or send it to one of the local municipalities, a lot of that has to do with caseload, typically. So if the higher courts are overloaded with more serious cases, then some of these smaller marijuana and paraphernalia charges get kicked to the city jurisdictions.
What Are The Schedules Of Unlawful Controlled Substances In Arizona?
In Arizona, the main categories that the prosecutorial agencies work with are marijuana on its own, and then there are dangerous drugs and narcotic drugs. Dangerous drugs include those that are illegal without a prescription or illegal entirely, and the most prosecuted dangerous drug in Maricopa County is methamphetamine.
Outside of marijuana and dangerous drugs, there are narcotics. The most typical example of narcotic drugs that we see is heroin, but of course, there’s also prescription drug abuse within that category as well. Maricopa County is currently dealing with dangerous drugs, typically narcotics and heroin, with marijuana at the bottom.
What Is Considered As Drug Trafficking In Arizona?
Trafficking and dealing are initially based on amounts over the threshold. Trafficking is more of a federal crime because it typically involves moving or transporting drugs across state lines or in and out of the country, especially here in Arizona, which is obviously in close proximity to Mexico, so there is a lot of that activity. We see that less at the state level, more so as a federal crime, and that’s typically much more highly selective and specialized in terms of when they go after people because they are usually building bigger cases.
A lot of times, unless it’s a drug ring, trafficking indicates that you have lots of people and lots of moving parts, but on the more traditional kind of drug sale level, we see individuals and smaller amounts. I had a client recently that was arrested for allegedly trafficking a fairly large amount of marijuana from Phoenix down towards Tucson, presumably to move it to Mexico’s direction. There are a lot of interesting scenarios that pop up, especially with our proximity to Mexico and California since there are a lot of drugs coming in and out of those places.
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