Phoenix Drug Crime Attorney

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Drug Crime Defense Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ

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drug crime defense attorney in phoenix az

Because of Arizona’s proximity to the national border, it has become a hub for trafficking, especially drug trafficking. Drug crimes in Arizona are taken very seriously by both the state and federal courts. Arizona’s drug laws are strict and heavily enforced, so being arrested for drug charges can have a significant impact on your future. 

If you or someone you love has been arrested for a drug crime, you need an experienced Phoenix drug crime attorney like Belén Olmedo Guerra on your side. Having comprehensive knowledge of both Arizona law and federal law ensures that we can use every available legal strategy to help our clients. When you work with the Belén Law Firm, you work with a team of legal professionals who will fight tooth and nail against your drug crime charges to protect you, your rights, and your future. Call us today at (602) 715-0908 to schedule a free evaluation with a top Phoenix criminal defense lawyer.

Types of Drug Crimes

At the Belén Law Firm, we handle all types of drug crimes and cases. Below, we’ll cover some types of drug offenses in Arizona that we are prepared to handle. 

Drug Possession

The penalties for simple drug possession in Arizona (and most other drug crimes) vary depending on your prior criminal record and the type of drugs involved. The drug doesn’t have to be on your person, however; if law enforcement officers find illegal substances in an “area under your control” such as your car or home, you may receive drug possession charges. Depending on the facts of your case, having illegal drugs in your possession can land you in prison for up to 12 years. 

Drug Possession for Sale

Possession with intent to distribute has more severe penalties than simple possession. Police often try to gather other evidence to prove intent to sell such as scales, baggies, and large amounts of cash. The penalties for possession with intent to sell are based on the type of drug. Harsher sentences apply for these types of drug offenses that involve especially dangerous narcotics such as fentanyl and heroin.  

Drug Paraphernalia

In some cases, the actual presence of drugs is not necessary for a felony charge. Simply having items used to store, prepare, or sell drugs (drug paraphernalia) can result in a Class 6 felony charge in Arizona

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Drug Trafficking

Knowingly selling, transferring, transporting, or importing drugs can land you an Arizona drug trafficking charge.

Drug Cultivation

Unlike other drugs, marijuana cannot be manufactured with chemicals. Cultivating (or growing) marijuana in Arizona can lead to drug cultivation charges. While recreational marijuana is legal in Arizona, there are strict rules regarding how many plants you can grow at home and how much of the drug you can have on your person. 

Drug Manufacturing

Drug manufacturing uses chemicals and lab equipment to manufacture drugs like methamphetamine. Depending on the type of drug, manufacturing drugs can result in criminal charges ranging anywhere from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 2 felony. 

Drug Distribution

Arizona law stipulates a “threshold amount” for drug distribution charges. The threshold amounts for common drugs are as follows:

  • .5 milliliter of LSD
  • 1 gram of heroin
  • .75 grams of rock cocaine
  • 9 grams of powdered cocaine
  • 9 grams of methamphetamine
  • 2 pounds of marijuana

Even if the plan was not to distribute the drugs, having the threshold amount can be an immediate charge of drug distribution. These charges can also be brought if the drugs are found hidden and with either a significant amount of cash or with items used to sell drugs on hand.

Prescription Fraud

A felony charge can result from forging a prescription. Using a fraudulent prescription to get prescription drugs can net you a Class 1 misdemeanor charge in Arizona.

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Types and Schedules of Drugs

Most drug offense penalties are based on the type of drug involved. Arizona has 6 classes of controlled dangerous substances: marijuana, peyote, prescription drugs, dangerous drugs, narcotic drugs, and substances that emit toxic vapors. This is slightly different from the federal schedules of drugs. 

The federal government uses 5 schedules based on the use of the drug and its potential danger and risk of addiction and abuse. Schedule I drugs are those that have a high risk of abuse and no accepted medical purpose, such as heroin, LSD, and marijuana. Schedule V controlled substances, however, are those with accepted medical uses and a low quantity of narcotics. 

Here are some examples: 

  • Fentanyl–Fentanyl is a highly regulated synthetic opioid. It’s 50-100 times more potent than morphine and is used to treat severe pain. Fentanyl is a narcotic under Arizona law, and since there is a high risk for addiction to fentanyl, it is a Schedule II drug under federal law.  
  • Marijuana–The federal government has not recognized any medical benefits of marijuana, so it remains a Schedule I drug. 
  • Cocaine–Cocaine has some accepted medical use as an anesthetic but still has a high risk of addiction, so it is considered a Schedule II drug.
  • Heroin–Heroin has no accepted medical uses and is, therefore, a Schedule I drug according to federal law. It is considered a dangerous drug under Arizona law.

Federal Drug Offenses

Surplus quantities of dangerous drugs or crossing a border with them can net you a federal criminal charge. Even if you are a first-time offender with a small amount of drugs, you can be charged with a federal drug offense if a federal agent makes the arrest. 

Arizona drug laws may be harsh, but federal drug offenses carry even harsher penalties. 

Most federal drug crimes have mandatory prison time and other serious consequences. Fortunately, the federal criminal defense attorneys at Belén Law Firm can provide a strategic and aggressive defense to federal drug charges. As Belén Olmedo Guerra is well-versed in both Arizona law and federal law, she is well-equipped to craft the best possible defense strategy for either state court or federal court. 

What are the Penalties for Drug Crimes in Arizona?

Prior convictions can impact the penalties for drug crimes. Numerous drug offenses can mean you end up with more jail time, higher fines, or both. Arizona uses a general sentencing chart for non-violent drug crimes for a first offense. 

Under Arizona law, the first-time felony sentencing chart can be found below:

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Under House Bill 2241, a person convicted of certain drug crimes involving dangerous narcotics such as heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, or fentanyl mimetic substances may receive much harsher sentencing. For a first offense involving these types of drugs, defendants face anywhere between 5-15 years in prison. For subsequent offenses involving these drugs, the penalties increase to anywhere between 10-20 years behind bars.

Additionally, a defendant convicted of a drug crime involving these drugs is not eligible for probation, suspension of sentence, pardon, or any other release from confinement until they have served the sentence imposed by the court.

Keep in mind, a felony conviction doesn’t just end with the completion of prison time and payment of hefty fines. A felony conviction can follow someone around for the rest of their life. Felonies make it extremely difficult for someone to find gainful employment, quality housing, and education opportunities. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Belén, you can rest easy knowing that she will do everything possible to help you get the best possible outcome for your individual case. 

Can Drug Charges Be Set Aside in Arizona?

You may have heard of certain crimes being expunged from a record. This essentially allows someone can go back to living a normal life after a conviction without carrying the offense around like a scarlet letter on their record forever. In Arizona, rather than expunged, prior convictions can be “set aside” in specific circumstances.  When a court awards a Set Aside in Arizona, they are declaring that you have served your time, paid your fines, and have no other pending charges. Having a Set Aside can show prospective landlords and employers that you have paid restitution for your offenses. 

However, when it comes to a drug crime case, only marijuana convictions can be expunged from your criminal record in Arizona. 

Why You Need a Phoenix Drug Crime Defense Attorney

Drug crimes in Arizona are often met with severe penalties and can be extremely difficult to navigate alone. It is highly unlikely that you will avoid a conviction and harsh sentencing without the help of an experienced lawyer guiding you through the process and presenting a strong defense. Fortunately, the knowledgeable Phoenix criminal defense attorneys at Belén Law Firm are ready to help you navigate the complicated and confusing Arizona criminal justice system.

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Drug Charge? Call Phoenix, AZ Criminal Defense Lawyer Belén Olmedo Guerra Today

At Belén Law Firm, we understand the importance of being available 24/7. Our legal team is available at all hours of the day, because we know arrests don’t follow a 9-5 schedule. Our criminal defense attorneys at Belén Law Firm work around the clock to provide you with the best strategy for positive resolutions in your case.

Belén Law Firm has an extensive track record of reduced, dropped, and dismissed drug crime cases. If you or a loved one is facing drug crime charges in Phoenix, Arizona, Belén can help. Schedule a free consultation with a Phoenix drug crimes attorney from Belén Law Firm today by calling (602) 715-0908.

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