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Heroin Offenses

Arizona heroin offenses are serious, and you can expect prosecutors to pursue the harshest available punishment. This is why individuals facing these severe drug charges need the support of a reliable criminal defense lawyer. Our legal team at Phoenix Criminal Attorney is experienced in handling Arizona drug charges.

This means that we understand the steps needed to mount a strong defense and protect our clients from serious consequences and a lifetime of regret. Our skilled legal representation at Phoenix Criminal Attorney can be beneficial if you or a loved one is arrested and charged with a heroin violation in Phoenix, Arizona. Our legal team is ready to assist.

Understanding Heroin In Detail

The narcotic drug heroin is derived from the natural chemical morphine, which is extracted from the seed pods of the opium poppy plant. Heroin is one of the most hazardous narcotics, along with cocaine and methamphetamine. Some of the most commonly used illegal narcotics linked to fatalities in the US are those with opium bases, like heroin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that one of the main reasons it is a serious offense to possess this medication is the significant risk of a lethal overdose.

The Dangers of Using Heroin

The addictive qualities of heroin make it a highly hazardous drug. When this illegal narcotic crosses the blood-brain barrier, its main effect is an intense feeling of euphoria. However, this mood is short-lived, often leading the user to seek more and more to maintain a blissful state of mind.

The frequent use of this drug can lead to a dangerous tolerance, compelling users to increase their dosage. This unfortunate cycle contributes significantly to the alarming rate of drug-related fatalities. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that since 2016, close to 10,000 Americans have tragically lost their lives due to heroin usage.

Arizona law prohibits the possession and manufacturing of illegal substances such as heroin. However, due to their affordability, there is an excess of the drug that is difficult to control or eliminate. Like many illicitly produced narcotic substances used for recreational purposes, heroin is available in various forms. The safety and reliability of the components increase as the cost of the drug rises.

Some of the chemicals used to enhance the potent effects of heroin include starch, caffeine, and anti-malaria medications. Sellers often combine the harmful effects of heroin with those of morphine or other drugs, leading to catastrophic consequences for the user.

Arizona's Heroin Laws

The DEA regulates the Controlled Substances Act, which classifies heroin as a Schedule I narcotic. This categorization marks it as an extremely hazardous and illegal substance. Even when it appears in prescription drugs, heroin is deemed to have no safe application under medical supervision or approved use.

The Schedule I classification of the drug signifies its high likelihood of misuse. Both the federal law and Arizona state law deem heroin use and possession illegal, as per this categorization and the stipulations laid out in the Arizona Revised Statutes.

ARS Section 13-3408

According to Section 13-3408 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, an individual is prohibited from intentionally:

  • Using or possessing narcotic drugs
  • Have a drug that is intended for sale
  • Have the tools, the materials, or both necessary to produce narcotic drugs
  • Produce a narcotic substance
  • Give someone else access to a narcotic medication
  • Obtain or arrange for the use of a narcotic drug through deception, fraud, or other deceitful means
  • Engage in the sale, transfer, or proposition to sell or transfer a narcotic substance. Facilitate its transportation for sale, bring it into the state, or propose to transport for sale or import it into the state

Arizona's Penalties for Heroin Crimes

The severity of a felony charge, as well as any additional illegal activities linked to the crime, will determine the consequences for an Arizona heroin-related offense. Various factors can influence the severity of the penalties and the length of jail time for such a serious crime.

The criteria taken into account include whether there was a plan to sell the illicit substance, whether there were any aggravating circumstances, and whether the accused person had prior felony convictions. For example, an individual accused of simple possession for the first time will likely receive a lighter sentence compared to someone accused of drug trafficking with a history of multiple felonies. This is because a trafficking charge is classified as a Class 2 felony, resulting in a severe sentence and a minimal chance of probation for a repeat offender.

The following lists the standard punishments for various drug-related offenses in Arizona, as determined by ARS Section 13-3408 and the state's felony sentencing guidelines.

Arizona Heroin Possession Allegation

Since heroin is a Schedule I narcotic, simply possessing it can lead to a Class 4 felony charge in Arizona. First-time offenders typically face a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison for Class 4 felonies. Previous felonies could result in sentences of up to 15 years for more serious offenses.

Establishing constructive possession of an illicit substance gets trickier when it comes to intentional drug possession. For the prosecution to successfully convict and penalize the defendant, they need to demonstrate that the defendant stashed the drugs in a closet or glove box, fully aware of and intending to commit a Class 4 felony. In certain circumstances, this complexity now makes it simpler for the person being accused to plead ignorance.

Arizona Heroin Possession for Sale

If you're caught with an illegal substance and it's clear you intended to sell it, you're looking at a Class 2 felony charge. The "intent for sale" aspect ramps up the severity of the punishment, meaning you could be hit with some serious penalties.

The defendant could face the following consequences, depending on their number of previous records:

  • Four to ten years without a prior record, with the possibility of probation
  • A single previous conviction can result in a prison term ranging from six to 18.5 years, along with further stipulations for probation
  • With two prior convictions on record, there's no chance for probation. The sentences could vary anywhere between 14 and 28 years

Arizona Heroin Distribution Charges

If a person exceeds the predetermined threshold amount of a substance, which, when reached, is presumed to indicate an intent to sell, they may face charges of drug distribution. The legal limit for heroin under Arizona law is one gram.

Whether a heroin distribution charge is appropriate depends on various factors, such as how the drug is packaged and whether it is being handled with drug paraphernalia like scales and baggies.

A defendant facing a Class 3 felony can be accused of distributing heroin. Depending on the value of the heroin and the ages of the customer and distributor, there are severe penalties and potential jail sentences.

Arizona Heroin Trafficking Charges

According to Arizona law, trafficking heroin is considered one of the most severe drug offenses, falling under ARS Section 13-3408 of the Arizona Code. If found guilty, the accused can expect a Class 2 felony charge. For a successful conviction on trafficking charges, the prosecution has to prove that there was an intention to sell, export, or import the drug.

First-time offenders in Arizona risk 4 to 10 years in jail, while those with numerous convictions could face up to a 28-year sentence (or 35 years for serious offenses) due to the state's 1-gram heroin threshold. A defendant facing drug trafficking charges in Arizona may also face federal charges during their trial. As a result, the punishment is far harsher, carrying a maximum fine of $4 million and a maximum sentence of life behind bars.

Arizona Heroin Manufacturing

An individual can face an Arizona Class 2 felony if found in possession of lab equipment and the substances required to manufacture heroin. The typical sentence range for a first-time offender is four to ten years.

Legal Defenses to Heroin Offense Charges

A conviction for heroin sale, distribution, or possession carries penalties that extend beyond jail time and fines. If it becomes part of your record, you might have to live with the conviction for the rest of your life. Hence, it is crucial to vigorously fight charges of heroin offenses if you are facing them.

You could present the following arguments to challenge the allegations with the guidance of an experienced defense attorney:

Lacking Information About the Presence of Heroin

To get a conviction for possessing or distributing heroin with an intent to sell, the prosecution has to prove beyond doubt that you knew about the drug's presence. If you didn't know that you had the substance, then legally speaking, you can't be held accountable for any crime. For instance, if someone stashes drugs in your car or home without your knowledge, this could be a plausible situation.

False Allegations

Being convicted of heroin-related offenses can result in serious legal consequences and additional problems. Unfortunately, baseless allegations often serve as the foundation for charges related to these crimes. There is a possibility that someone trying to avoid their responsibility or someone holding a grudge against you may falsely accuse you of these offenses.

Errors in fact can also contribute to wrongful accusations of an Arizona heroin offense. You could be arrested for possessing someone else's narcotics if you share a room with them. Your lawyer can assist you in identifying false accusations and avoiding a conviction.

Not Enough Evidence

The prosecution must prove each element of your specific crime beyond a reasonable doubt if you are charged with a heroin offense. This entails presenting tangible evidence, inferential evidence, and sometimes witness testimony to support their case. A proficient defense attorney specializing in drug crimes can help you in contested cases by challenging the prosecution's evidence.

This could reduce the evidence against you and increase the chance of not being found guilty. A case with insufficient evidence could be dismissed or result in a reduced punishment.

Lack of Selling Intent

If you are accused of intending to sell heroin, the prosecution has to prove your intent. Normally, drugs are exchanged for money or other valuable items. Signs of intent to sell can be deduced from factors like the quantity of drugs, their packaging, and the presence of any related accessories.

Possession of heroin with the intent to sell is a serious offense. You may avoid being convicted of this crime if you can prove that you had no intention of selling the substance. In such cases, the prosecution may reduce the charges to simple possession, which carries lighter penalties.

Medical Exemption

Heroin, a prescription medication, is sometimes given to patients in palliative care for severe pain relief. If you are accused of possessing this drug, you could potentially argue that your medical condition requires its use. However, to make this defense valid, you should be able to prove that you have a valid prescription for the drug.

Unauthorized Search and Seizure Operation

In an investigation into the sale, transportation, and possession of heroin, a search of your person or property may be necessary to find illegal drugs and other evidence. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects you from unauthorized search and seizure by the police.

Concerning drug-related crimes, the law mandates that police officers should have a legitimate warrant to conduct any searches. This is obtained from the court once there's sufficient reason or 'probable cause' for a search. Despite the rising abuse of substances like heroin, law enforcement officers may feel inclined to bypass this requirement and inspect your property without a warrant.

If the foundation of your case is built on evidence collected through an unlawful search and seizure, you have the right to request that the court dismiss this evidence. In many heroin-related cases, a conviction heavily relies on the evidence obtained by law enforcement. Thus, if this evidence is excluded, obtaining a conviction could become highly unlikely.


Entrapment serves as a legal defense if you were manipulated into committing a heroin-related crime by law enforcement. To effectively leverage this entrapment defense, you have to prove the following:

  • The criminal acts were orchestrated by law enforcement officials
  • The officers coerced you into committing the offense
  • Before the officer had this information, you were not likely to commit the alleged heroin crime

It's not unusual for drug crime charges to stem from police stings and undercover operations. However, it's worth noting that not every undercover operation results in entrapment. If you have a previous felony conviction related to narcotics, the option of claiming entrapment is off the table.

Arizona law prohibits law enforcement officers from using coercion or other tactics to persuade individuals to commit offenses. However, to use entrapment as a defense for a heroin offense, you should first admit to committing the act. This admission could negatively impact the outcome of your case.

Importance of Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Arizona Heroin Offenses

Arizona has strict laws regarding drug offenses. Felonies can result in heavy fines and jail time, but the consequences don't stop there. A felony drug conviction can significantly impact your personal success, making tasks such as securing a job or renting an apartment much more challenging.

If you're dealing with drug-related charges, it's vital to have a seasoned Phoenix drug offense defense attorney on your side. A competent lawyer specializing in drug crimes can stand up for you in both federal and local courts, offering the dedicated legal support you need.

If someone is arrested for using heroin under Arizona law, the prosecution has to establish all necessary elements of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. It becomes significantly more challenging for the prosecutor to prove the defendant's involvement if the accused and their lawyer can raise doubts about the evidence, such as claiming they were unaware of the accused person's intent to sell or possess heroin. A strong defense strategy could lead to the defendant facing reduced charges or potentially having their case dismissed entirely.

Is It More Difficult To Defend Heroin Offense Cases Five Years Later?

It depends on the case. Building a case and negotiating can be quite time-consuming. The key factors here are the preservation of evidence and the feasibility of conducting another drug test. Unfortunately, despite having solid arguments on your side, you might still get offered an attractive plea deal by the prosecutor's office. They're well aware that many clients would rather gamble than fight it out in court.

Find a Phoenix Drug Crime Defense Lawyer Near Me

The severe penalties associated with Arizona drug offenses, especially those related to heroin, can be daunting and overwhelming. No one should have to navigate through this complex and stressful situation alone. If you find yourself needing help with such legal issues, you can reach out to us at Phoenix Criminal Attorney.

We understand the seriousness of a heroin case and the fear it can bring. That's why we are dedicated to providing each client with a strong defense and aggressive legal representation at every stage. We believe in fighting for your rights, aiming to reduce or dismiss charges, or even secure a not guilty verdict at trial. You can contact our law office immediately for your best chance at justice. Call us at 602-551-8092.

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