If you are facing charges of methamphetamine possession in Phoenix, Arizona, you could face severe sentencing upon conviction. This is because Arizona harshly prosecutes drug crimes. So, if you are facing charges, seek professional legal counsel immediately. Possession of methamphetamine is a severe offense in Arizona and is treated as a class 4 felony.
Methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, is a potent and highly addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. It is classified as a dangerous drug under Arizona law and falls under controlled substances. Possession, use, sale, or manufacturing of methamphetamine is strictly prohibited and can lead to severe legal consequences.
If convicted, you could face a significant prison sentence of 1.5, 3, or 3.7 years for a first-time offender and up to 10 years for a second-time offender, along with hefty fines. The severity of the sentence depends on various factors, such as the quantity of methamphetamine found in your possession, any prior criminal record, and the circumstances surrounding your case.
If you or a family member is facing charges of violating Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3407(A.R.S. 13-3407), you want to seek legal assistance from an attorney who has helped defendants facing charges of possessing meth. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we pride ourselves on offering quality legal defense to clients seeking representation in Arizona. Contact us today to begin reviewing and investigating your case.
Classification of Methamphetamine Possession Laws and Sentencing
The following is the classification of Meth charges in Arizona:
- Use or possession of Meth is a Class 4 Felony punishable by up to one and a half to three years in prison (or three years and seven months if there are any aggravating factors).
- Obtaining Methamphetamine by misrepresentation or fraud is a Class 3 Felony
- Transporting Meth for sale or possession to sell it is a Class 2 Felony punishable by up to five to ten years in prison (or twelve years if aggravating factors exist). However, if you are a repeat offender, the penalty increases to ten to 20 years.
- The manufacture of Methamphetamine is a Class 2 Felony punishable by up to five to ten years in prison (or twelve years if aggravating factors exist). However, if you are a repeat offender, the penalty increases to ten to 20 years.
- Possessing chemicals or equipment to manufacture methamphetamine is a Class 2 Felony punishable by up to two and a half to seven years (or eight years and seven months for aggravating factors).
- Administering Meth is a class 2 Felony
Possession under Arizona Law means physical possession or having control over something. Sell or sale means to exchange anything that has benefit or value for benefit.
Elements Prosecutors Must Prove Under Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-3407
In Arizona, possessing methamphetamine is governed by A.R.S. Section 13-3407. For prosecutors to secure a conviction, they must prove specific elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Understanding these elements is crucial for anyone facing methamphetamine possession charges.
Possession of a Controlled Substance
The prosecutor must prove that you had actual or constructive possession of methamphetamine. Actual possession refers to having physical control over or immediate access to the drug, such as in your hands or pockets. Constructive possession, on the other hand, means exercising control over the drug even if it is not on your person, such as if it is found in your car or home.
You Were Aware That You Had Meth In Your Possession
In Arizona, being charged with possession of methamphetamine requires the prosecution to prove that you were aware of the drug's presence in your possession. This element is crucial, as it distinguishes accidental possession from intentional possession.
In accidental possession, you are unaware that you are in possession of meth and it happens that you are caught by law enforcers. For example, Judy, who has a black bag, visits the park and sits beside John, a drug dealer. Coincidentally, John has a black bag, too. John gets a call to meet with his client and, without noticing, picks up Judy’s bag and walks toward the client. On the other hand, Judy leaves the park with John’s bag and goes to the mall, where the scanners indicate illegal substances in her bag, resulting in her arrest.
Here, Judy is in possession of meth accidentally, so she cannot face conviction for an A.R.S. 13-3407 violation. However, intentional possession of meth means that you were aware of its presence and had either the intent to use it or sell it. The prosecutors will need to show that you knew the nature of the substance you possessed.
Illegal Nature of the Substance
The prosecutors have the task of demonstrating that the substance in your possession was, indeed, methamphetamine or a methamphetamine derivative. This may involve presenting laboratory test results confirming the identity of the substance as a controlled, dangerous drug.
You were in Possession of a Usable Amount of Methamphetamine
The prosecution has the task of establishing that you are in possession of a usable amount of meth. Possession of a usable amount of methamphetamine falls under A.R.S. Section 13-3407.
In Arizona, a usable amount of methamphetamine is any quantity sufficient for personal use or consumption. The specific weight or amount that qualifies as usable may vary depending on the circumstances and the court's discretion.
You Possessed Meth Illegally
Possession of meth without a prescription is illegal in Arizona under A.R.S. Section 13-3407. This means that unless you have a valid prescription or authorization from a licensed healthcare professional, having methamphetamine in your possession is a criminal offense. The prosecution must prove that the meth found in your possession during the arrest was with you illegally.
Penalties for Violation of A.R.S. 13-3407
If found guilty of violating A.R.S. 13-3407, the judge will sentence you based on the specific nature of the violation and your criminal history.
When determining the appropriate sentence for a methamphetamine possession offense, the court will consider various factors, including:
Quantity of Methamphetamine
The amount of methamphetamine in your possession is crucial in sentencing. Larger quantities may lead to more severe penalties.
Prior Criminal History
You could face enhanced penalties if you are a second-time offender for violating A.R.S. 13-3407 or have a drug-related conviction on your criminal record.
Intent to Distribute
If the prosecution can prove that you intended to sell or distribute the methamphetamine, the penalties can be more severe than simple possession charges.
Presence of Aggravating Factors
There are aggravating factors, such as possessing methamphetamine near a school or other protected area, that could lead to enhanced penalties of up to 10 years in prison.
Cooperation with Law Enforcement
If you cooperate with law enforcement during the investigation or provide substantial assistance in other cases, you could receive a more lenient sentence.
In your case, the court may consider mitigating circumstances that could lead to a less severe sentence. This may include factors such as:
- A lack of a prior criminal record.
- Evidence of rehabilitation efforts.
- Supportive social environment.
Penalties in Accordance with Sentencing Factors
- Possessing the substance or equipment for the manufacture of Meth could lead to a sentence of up to two and a half to seven years (or eight years and seven months for aggravating factors).
- Possessing Meth for manufacture, sale, or transport for sale could have you facing a sentence of up to five to ten years in prison (or twelve years if aggravating factors exist). However, if you are a repeat offender, the penalty increases to ten to 20 years.
- Possessing Meth for use. If the amount does not exceed Arizona Law Threshold Amount, you could face a sentence of up to one and a half to three years in prison (or three years and seven months if there are any aggravating factors).
- Fines of not less than $1000 or three times the value of the Meth in your possession.
- Probation or parole.
- Substance abuse counseling.
- Loss of civil rights such as the right to bear arms.
- The sentence period could increase if you are found in possession of 9 grams of Meth or more.
Immigration Consequences for Violation of A.R.S. 13-3407
If you are an immigrant in the United States and have been charged with violating A.R.S. 13-3407 or drug crimes related to methamphetamine possession, you could face deportation or inadmissibility to the U.S.
Arizona Drug Court
In Arizona, there are drug court programmes that could allow you to enter a long-term drug treatment session rather than serving time in prison. You are only eligible for these programmes if you committed a drug crime without the use of violence or if your criminal record is not composed of severe crimes.
The following are some of the drug courts found in Arizona:
- Juvenile Drug Court
- Family Drug Court
- Drug courts with adult probation
- Drug courts for DUI
You must plead guilty to the drug crime you committed for you to be eligible for an opportunity for a drug court sentence. Once in, you are assigned probation terms that you should meet. The terms of your probation are determined by the drug court's defense attorney, county attorney, and judge.
The treatment services offered are to prevent relapsing and committing a subsequent drug crime. Once you complete the terms of your probation, your charges can either be dismissed or your sentence could be reduced. However, if you violate or do not complete the probation terms, your opportunity at the drug court programme will be retracted, and the judge will deem you guilty and sentence you to time in prison.
Fighting Charges Against Possession of Meth
If you are convicted as a first-time offender, you could face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, while a second or subsequent offender could face charges of up to 20 years. With such hefty penalties, you want to build strong defenses so that you can fight the charges that were made against you. These defenses include the following:
Challenging the Search and Seizure
Suppose you have been charged with possession of methamphetamine, but you believe that the evidence was obtained through an illegal search and seizure. In that case, you may be the victim of a violation of your constitutional rights.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures, and evidence obtained in violation of this amendment may be deemed inadmissible in court.
Lack of Knowledge or Possession
To secure a conviction for possession of methamphetamine, the prosecution must prove that you had knowledge of the drug's presence and had control over or access to it. If you have been If you were charged with possession of methamphetamine but genuinely had no knowledge of the drug's presence in your possession, you may have a valid defense. Proving a lack of awareness or understanding of the drug's existence is crucial to challenging the possession charges against you.
Invalid Lab Results
Challenging the validity of laboratory test results is another potential defense strategy. Your attorney could investigate the testing process and the chain of custody of the evidence to identify any errors or inaccuracies. If the lab results are invalid, they cannot be used during the trial.
Medical Necessity or Prescription
Contrary to the common assumption that all meth possession is illegal, there are instances where possessing methamphetamine can be legal in Arizona. You are not guilty of violating A.R.S. 13-3407 if you were in possession of Meth due to a legitimate medical necessity or if it was a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare professional. Your attorney can gather evidence and documentation to support this claim.
Rehabilitation and Treatment
If you have a history of substance abuse, undergoing rehabilitation or treatment programs could be presented as a defense. Showing a commitment to addressing underlying issues can positively impact the court's perception of your case.
Mistaken Identity or False Accusations
If you believe you were mistakenly identified or falsely accused of possessing methamphetamine, your attorney can investigate the circumstances and present evidence to support your innocence.
You were Only Around the Meth and not in Possession of it
If you have been accused of being around methamphetamine but did not possess it, you may have a valid defense to challenge the charges. It is essential to understand the distinction between mere proximity to the drug and actual possession, as this can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
The Difference Between Proximity and Possession
To secure a conviction for possession of methamphetamine, the prosecution must prove that you had both knowledge of the drug's presence and control over it. Simply being in the vicinity of methamphetamine without having any ownership or control over it does not constitute possession under the law.
The Meth Belonged to another person
If you have been charged with possessing methamphetamine, but the drug belonged to another person, you may have a valid defense to challenge the charges. Demonstrating that you had no ownership or control over the methamphetamine and that it belonged to someone else is crucial to building a solid defense.
Your defense attorney will work to gather evidence to support your claim that the methamphetamine belonged to someone else. This evidence may include witness testimonies, surveillance footage, or other relevant information indicating another person's ownership.
Related offenses to A.R.S. 13-3407 Violation
Several related offenses under Arizona law pertain to dangerous drug crimes. These offenses involve possessing, selling, distributing, or manufacturing various illegal substances and can carry significant penalties upon conviction.
Manslaughter, A.R.S. 13-1201
Under Arizona’s manslaughter law, A.R.S. 13-1103, it is a crime to cause the death of another person. You could also be charged with being in possession of a dangerous drug and manslaughter. For example, John murdered Peter by administering a significant amount of a hazardous drug like Methamphetamine. Here, John is guilty of possessing a dangerous drug and manslaughter.
Endangerment, A.R.S. 13-1201
Under Arizona Law, it is a crime if you commit actions that put one at risk of physical injury or imminent death. If you execute the offense by administering a dangerous drug like Methamphetamine to your victim, you could face charges for violating A.R.S. 13-1201 and A.R.S. 3407.
Aggravated Assault, A.R.S. 13-1204
Under A.R.S. 13-1204, it is a crime when you assault your victim under aggravating circumstances, such as using a deadly weapon, or when assaulting the person, you cause a serious physical injury.
Aggravated assault is a felony under Arizona statutes. If this is coupled with administering a dangerous drug to your victim, the charges become more serious.
Find a Phoenix Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you are facing charges of methamphetamine possession or other dangerous drug crimes in Phoenix, Arizona, you want to seek the expertise of a qualified criminal defense attorney. Penalties imposed after conviction could be detrimental to your life. Therefore, you need an experienced attorney to provide you with the legal guidance and representation you need to navigate the complex legal system and protect your rights.
At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, our lawyers are ready to take on your case and help you build strong defenses that will help you achieve a positive outcome. Contact us today at 602-551-8092 so that we can start investigating your case.