Criminal Defense for Heroin-Related Crimes
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Phoenix Criminal Defense for Heroin Offenses
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Heroin offenses in Arizona are not taken lightly, and prosecutors will likely try to penalize you to the highest extent possible under the law. That is why those facing these serious drug charges need the help of a reliable Phoenix criminal defense attorney like Belén Olmedo Guerra. At Belén Law Firm, our legal team knows the ins and outs of drug crimes in Arizona. That means we also know what it takes to put up a strong defense and protect our clients from the harsh penalties they face and a lifetime of regret. For a free consultation concerning your Arizona drug crime, contact Belén Law Firm at (602) 715-0908 or via our online intake form today.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is a narcotic drug that is derived from the natural substance morphine, which in turn is derived from the seed pods of opium poppy plants.
Similarly to other substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine, heroin is one of the more dangerous drugs. In fact, opium-based substances like heroin are some of the most common illegal drugs associated with fatalities in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the high potential for a fatal overdose is one of the leading factors in making it a serious crime to possess this drug.
Dangers of Heroin UseOne of the things that makes heroin such a dangerous drug is its addictive nature. The main effect of this illegal substance is an extremely potent sense of euphoria that it gives the user when it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Of course, this sensation is fleeting, which often leads the user to crave more and more to maintain that euphoric feeling. Users may also start to develop a tolerance to the drug after repeated usage, requiring them to increase the dosage and contributing to the high rate of fatalities associated with the drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the use of heroin has resulted in over 10,000 deaths in the United States since 2016. The manufacturing and possession of illegal drugs such as heroin is prohibited under Arizona law, but the low cost to acquire them leads to an abundance of the drug that is difficult to combat and prevent entirely. Like with many narcotic drugs that are illegally manufactured for recreational use, heroin comes in many variations. The cheaper the strain, the more questionable and harmful the component may be to inject. Some additives used to amplify the potent sensations of heroin include anti-malaria drugs, caffeine, and stach. Another common practice for dealers is to combine the effects of heroin with that of fentanyl or morphine, which often results in disastrous harm for the user.
Arizona Heroin LawsUnder the Controlled Substances Act enforced by the DEA, heroin is a Schedule I substance, making it a highly dangerous and illegal drug. This categorization defines heroin as having no accepted usage or recognized safety under medical supervision, not even in the form of prescription-only drugs. A Schedule I classification also indicates that the drug has a high potential for abuse. Under this definition, as well as the legislation prescribed under the Arizona Revised Statutes, the use and possession of heroin is a criminal offense both federally and under Arizona state law.
ARS § 13-3408Section 13-3408 of Arizona’s 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, to manufacture 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
What are the Penalties for Heroin Offenses in Arizona?
The penalty for a heroin offense in Arizona can vary depending on the type of criminal charges associated with the crime, and thus, the degree of the felony that a person is being charged with. This is because there are many different factors that impact the severity of penalties and the length of jail time a person receives for a felony charge. Factors taken into consideration include whether there was intent to sell the drug, whether there were aggravating factors involved, and whether or not the defendant is already a convicted felon.
For example, someone with no priors being charged with simple possession will be given much lighter sentencing than someone with multiple felony convictions being charged with drug trafficking. This is because the trafficking charge is classified as a Class 2 felony, and for a felon with priors, that constitutes extremely heavy sentencing with little-to-no chance of probation.
Below are the general penalties for different Arizona drug crimes, as outlined by ARS § 13-3408 and Arizona’s felony sentencing chart.
AZ Heroin Possession Charge
Heroin is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, and as such, the simple possession of it can result in a Class 4 felony in Arizona. For a first-time offense, a Class 4 felony typically results in 2 and a half years imprisonment, but prior felony convictions can increase the sentencing to a maximum of 12 years (15 years for aggravated offenses).
Note that intentional drug possession becomes harder to prove when arguing for the constructive possession of any illicit substances. For the prosecution to get a sentence passed on the defendant, they have to prove that the person was knowingly and willingly committing a Class 4 felony by storing the drugs somewhere, such as a car glove box or a closet. In these cases, it becomes easier for the defendant to argue their ignorance.
AZ Heroin Possession with Intent to Sell
A person charged with possession of an illicit substance with the intent to sell it faces a Class 2 felony. As such, the element of “intent to sell” results in a much harsher degree of sentencing with more severe penalties. Depending on the number of prior records that the defendant has, he or she faces the following penalties:
- No prior record – 4 to 10 years, with a possibility for probation.
- One prior conviction – 6 to 18.5 years, with special conditions required for probation.
- Two prior convictions – 14 to 28 years, with no possibility for probation.
AZ Heroin Distribution Charge
A person can be charged with the distribution of drugs if they surpass the threshold amount, which is the defined quantity of the drug that, when met, is assumed that there is an intent to sell it. In Arizona, the threshold amount for heroin is 1 gram. Other factors may play a role in determining whether a distribution charge of heroin is applicable as well, such as the packaging of the substance and whether or not it is being handled in tandem with drug paraphernalia such as scales and baggies.
A defendant charged with heroin distribution will face a Class 3 felony. The fine and jail time are stringent on the ages of the distributor and buyer and the value of the heroin.
AZ Heroin Trafficking Charge
Trafficking heroin is a direct violation of ARS § 13-3408, and it is one of the most severe
drug offenses in Arizona. A person found guilty of this charge will receive a Class 2 felony. To be convicted of trafficking, the prosecution must prove intent to import, export, or sell the drug.
As the threshold amount for heroin in Arizona is 1 gram, first time offenders will face 4 to 10 years in prison, while those with multiple convictions may receive up to 28 years (or 35 years for aggravated offenses). When a person is being prosecuted for drug trafficking in Arizona, they may also be tried with federal criminal charges as well. This makes the sentencing much more severe, with penalties including up to $4 million in fines and life in prison.
AZ Heroin Manufacturing
If someone is found possessing lab equipment and the chemicals required for heroin manufacturing in Arizona, they will also face a Class 2 felony. For a first offender, the typical range for sentencing is 4 to 10 years.
Why Do I Need a Criminal Lawyer for My Arizona Heroin Charges?
State laws penalize drug crimes very harshly. Felony convictions do not just end in fines or jail time either; for those convicted, it can be extremely difficult to succeed in their personal life as well. Things like obtaining a job or a place to live can be increasingly difficult with a felony conviction on your record. That is why is it so crucial that those charged with drug crimes have the support of a skilled Phoenix drug crime defense attorney like Belén Olmedo Guerra on their side. At Belén Law Firm, we are equipped to handle drug cases on both a local and federal level while providing you with the attentive attorney-client relationship that you deserve.
If a person is arrested for a heroin offense in Arizona, the prosecutor must prove the required elements of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt before securing a conviction. If the defendant and their attorney can present doubt, such as arguing their ignorance toward the possession or intent to sell heroin, it becomes much more difficult for the prosecution to use evidence linking back to the defendant. With a strong defense strategy, the defendant may receive reduced charges or even have their case dismissed altogether.
Phoenix Drug Crime Defense Lawyer
The severe penalties associated with drug crimes in Arizona, especially those involving heroin, can be complicated and stressful to navigate, and no one should ever have to face them alone. If you’re experiencing legal trouble with drug crimes in Arizona, the Phoenix criminal defense attorneys at Belén Law Firm can help.
We understand just how daunting the potential penalties surrounding a heroin case can be for our clients, which is why we ensure that each client receives solid defense and aggressive representation throughout the entire legal process. For the best chance at reducing your charges, having your charges dismissed, or receiving an acquittal at trial, contact our law office right away. You can reach us by calling (602) 715-0908 or submitting the online intake form on our website to schedule your free consultation today.