Criminal Defense for Fentanyl-Related Crimes
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Phoenix Criminal Defense for Fentanyl Offenses
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If you or a loved one is under investigation or has been arrested and charged with a fentanyl offense in Arizona, it is imperative that you have someone on your side from the very beginning to protect your rights and the integrity of your case. BEFORE saying a word to the police, contact the skilled Phoenix criminal defense attorneys at Belén Law Firm right away. The sooner you reach out, the sooner we can begin crafting a strategic defense on your behalf.
For a free consultation regarding your fentanyl case, call the Belén Law Firm at (602) 715-0908 or reach out via our online intake form today.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a type of synthetic opioid intended for treating extreme pain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is similar to morphine but is actually 50 to 100 times more potent.
Like many prescription drugs, fentanyl is also manufactured and distributed illegally for recreational use. However, this drug is extremely powerful and can be incredibly dangerous and often fatal when used recreationally. Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are the most common dangerous drugs involved in overdose-related fatalities in the United States.
Dangers of Fentanyl Use
Fentanyl deaths have been on the incline across the United States for a few years now, and the unfortunate trend only continues to rise. Last year alone (2021), between 70,000-80,000 overdose deaths out of approximately 110,000 could be attributed to fentanyl use.
Like heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other dangerous drugs, fentanyl is extremely addictive, which means users will often come back for more after experiencing the first high. However, as a person’s tolerance builds, it is likely they will need more and more to feel the effects over time. That, in addition to the fact that even the smallest amount of the drug can be incredibly powerful, means users tend to overestimate the amount needed to reach their desired high. This, as you might imagine, is a huge factor in the ever-increasing overdose deaths related to fentanyl.
What’s more, fentanyl can be relatively simple to manufacture, making its synthetic forms easily accessible for drug dealers and those who wish to purchase it. Not only that, but it can also come in many different forms, including powder, liquid, drop, spray, and pill form. This can make it more difficult for law enforcement officers to track it and easier for it to spread. In fact, many deaths related to the drug occur in people who unknowingly ingested the drug, as it is more and more common to find fentanyl mixed in with other illegal drugs like Xanax or cocaine.
Arizona Fentanyl Laws
The drug fentanyl is considered a Schedule II narcotic. A dangerous drug in this category has a high potential for misuse and addiction but is considered a prescription drug and are otherwise accepted in appropriate medical settings. For reference, other Schedule II drugs in Arizona include methamphetamine, oxycodone, Adderall, cocaine, OxyContin, methadone, and more.
As such, anyone who is found in possession of fentanyl may face serious criminal charges under Arizona law.
Section 13-3408 of Arizona Revised Statutes states that “a person shall not knowingly”:
- Possess or use a narcotic drug;
- Possess a narcotic drug for sale;
- Possess equipment or chemicals, or both, for the purpose of manufacturing a narcotic drug;
- Manufacture a narcotic drug;
- Administer a narcotic drug to another person.
- Obtain or procure the administration of a narcotic drug by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge; or
- Transport for sale, import into this state, offer to transport for sale or import into this state, sell, transfer or offer to sell or transfer a narcotic drug.
Penalties for Fentanyl Crimes in Arizona
The penalties for drug crimes in Arizona often depend on several different factors, including the type of drug in question as well as the amount. Having a previous criminal record also plays a large role in the penalties you can expect to face when convicted of drug crimes in this state, as does the type of drug crime you are accused of. This includes drug possession, drug sales, drug trafficking, drug manufacturing, drug possession with intent, and more.
For example, someone with no priors who was caught possessing a small amount of marijuana will not face near as harsh consequences as someone who is found to be selling drugs that are categorized as Schedule I.
Additionally, under House Bill 2241, a defendant convicted of drug crimes involving certain dangerous narcotics, including fentanyl 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.
In addition to jail time, a judge may order a defendant convicted of any of the above drug crimes to pay a fine of at least $2,000 or 3 times the value of the drugs involved, whichever is greater.
Below are the general penalties for different Arizona drug crimes, as outlined by ARS 13-3408.
Under Arizona’s felony sentencing chart, a person who is found to be in possession of an illegal drug in Arizona faces a Class 4 felony. This may bring a sentence of anywhere from 1 year to 3.75 years in prison. Under certain circumstances, first-time offenders may be eligible for probation (THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE FENTANYL OFFENSES). The terms of probation require the defendant to perform no less than 360 hours of drug counseling and rehabilitation in Arizona.
Possession with Intent to Sell
A conviction for possession with the intent to distribute to another person is considered a Class 2 felony in Arizona. Potential penalties may include between 3 years and 12.5 years in prison.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Under Arizona law, possession of paraphernalia (equipment, chemicals, etc.) for the purpose of manufacturing a narcotic drug constitutes a Class 3 felony. A Class 3 felony in Arizona carries a presumptive term of 3.5 years but may range anywhere from 2 to 8.75 years under certain circumstances.
Manufacturing a narcotic drug can lead to Class 2 felony charges in Arizona, which means anywhere between 3 and 12 and a half years in state prison.
Administering a Narcotic Drug
If a defendant is found guilty of administering a narcotic drug to another person, he or she faces a Class 2 felony (between 3-12.5 years).
The consequences for prescription fraud (that is, to “obtain or procure the administration of a narcotic drug by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge”) are severe. This is considered a Class 3 felony, meaning a defendant may face anywhere from 2 years to 8.75 years behind bars.
Because of its proximity to Mexico and expansive highways, Arizona has a high rate of drug trafficking convictions. In general, drug trafficking in Arizona is considered a Class 2 felony, which means between 3-12.5 years for first-time offenders. However, when drugs like fentanyl come into play, the sentence can increase to anywhere from 5-20 years, depending on the circumstances. Even if you did not intend to traffick the drugs, large amounts of illegal substances that surpass the minimum threshold can warrant an Arizona drug trafficking charge.
Keep in mind, however, that when someone is accused of a drug trafficking offense, they face both state and federal criminal charges. Federal drug trafficking charges are much more serious and have increasingly severe penalties, including up to $4 million in fines and life in prison. This makes it even more important that you obtain the help of a skilled Phoenix drug crime defense attorney who is able to handle drug cases in both local and federal courts.
Defense Against Drug Charges Involving Fentanyl in Arizona
A felony conviction for possession, distribution, or any other type of drug crime involving dangerous narcotics like fentanyl does not just end with the completion of prison time and payment of large fines. A conviction can follow someone around for the rest of their life, making it extremely difficult for them to find gainful employment, quality housing, and educational opportunities. With the help of an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney like Belén Olmedo Guerra of the Belén Law Firm, you can rest assured knowing that her ultimate goal is to help you get the best possible outcome for your individual case.
As an experienced drug crime defense lawyer, Belén knows how to navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system with ease. The government must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and she knows how to create such doubt in your case and challenge any evidence against you. That’s why the Belén Law Firm has such an extensive track record of reduced, dropped, and dismissed drug crime cases. Even if a conviction is unavoidable, our legal team will make sure you receive the best possible resolution, whatever that may be.
If you or a loved one is facing drug crime charges involving fentanyl in Phoenix, Arizona, Belén can help. We provide 24/7 legal advice and accept calls from inmates in all jails and penitentiaries across the state, including Maricopa County, Pima County, Yuma County, Pinal County, Cochise County, and Yavapai County. We travel to every corner of the State of Arizona! Schedule a free consultation by calling our law office at (602) 715-0908 today.