What Are The Potential Penalties For Drug-Related Offenses In Arizona?
There is a system for drug possession, when it comes to personal drug possession, called Proposition 200. The legislature created a three-strike system for drug possession, and so your first strike is called your A strike, from the subsection of the statute, but your first strike allows you or requires the judge to sentence you to probation. A drug offense for a first strike or any strike could be a misdemeanor or felony, any type of possession. The only exclusion from Proposition 200 is possession of methamphetamine, which is never going to be mandatory probation.
A first time methamphetamine offense can still be probation-eligible but what happens is as you go along, it is treated just like a normal felony, with normal exposure to jail and prison. All of the other non-methamphetamine-related offenses can have what we call a second strike, which also requires that you be sentenced to probation but it can come up to a certain amount of time in jail if you reject drug or substance abuse counseling as part of your probation. Essentially, it allows for possession for those first two offenses, whether they are felonies or misdemeanors that you must be sentenced to probation.
Beyond that, the third strike or subsequent strike cases are treated like normal misdemeanor or felony cases with the normal exposures to jail and prison, depending on the level of felony. Now, as you move into sale, it changes the game entirely because even without prior felony convictions, it could potentially enhance your sentence if you are convicted of sale. Some sale charges, if they are over the threshold, particularly with methamphetamine, can require prison even for a first time sale offense.
A lot of times, we’re able to negotiate a non-prison resolution part of a plea; but if you were to go to trial, such as on a methamphetamine-type case, the judge will be required to sentence you to prison if you were convicted, regardless of what your criminal history was. Ultimately, it would definitely require that the drugs be over the threshold, but that’s typically why it’s charged that way as well.
Forging a drug prescription is treated much like a regular forgery here in Arizona. It’s a felony. It’s been one of those things where the court felt that the forged prescription to obtain drugs fell outside of what we call the Protections of Proposition 200. So, it’s treated more like a fraud or a forgery case, which basically means that if you are a first time offender, you could may well be probation-eligible; but if you have prior convictions, then that would not require any kind of mandatory probation or anything that could still be used to enhance your sentence, and you could go to prison for that type of charge.
Any drug-related case, even with a forgery situation, can still present the opportunity for a more drug-focused probation term, whether it’s counseling or drug testing, which could be required of you because of the nature of the charges. Even in those forgery-type cases, if the concern is that this is an individual that was doing this to obtain drugs for themselves or has drug issues, then they could steal with some of the standard consequences for a regular drug possession case.
Are Penalties Enhanced If Minors Are Somehow Involved In A Drug Offense?
Penalties might not be required to be stricter in those situations. Those facts definitely are considered when a judge is determining whether to aggravate a sentence or whether there would be any opportunity to mitigate a sentence based on different factors, but those are definitely going to be important factors to a prosecutor that’s considering what type of offer to make. Indeed, some cases involve child abuse charges because of the activity occurring with regard to sales that we often see in these homes.
Sometimes there are young children that potentially could get into these drugs because they are not in a secure area, and then of course they could become very ill or even worse. We’ll see endangerment or child abuse charges oftentimes in cases where children or minors are closely tied to the illegal activity that’s being alleged.
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