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state Sentencing in Drug Crime Cases


Phoenix, Arizona Criminal Defense Attorneys


Sentencing in drug crimes cases depends on a number of issues: the kinds of drugs involved, whether violence or weapons were used, the quantity of drugs, whether the defendant has a criminal record, and other factors as well. Under Arizona state law, sentencing guidelines govern penalties for certain kinds of drug crimes. Typically, a judge can determine whether to apply the minimum penalty or the maximum. That’s why it’s essential to work with an experienced drug crimes attorney who understands how prosecutors and judges think and what can be done to convince the court to reduce the sentence against you.

At Blumberg & Associates, our lawyers have over 15 years of experience in defending people charged with drug crimes. For more information regarding our practice and how we can help you, contact drug crimes defense attorneys at Blumberg & Associates today.

Drug Classifications and the Controlled Substances Act

Like other states, Arizona’s drug laws are based in part on the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Under the CSA, drugs are divided according to the following schedule:

  • Schedule I - drugs that have a high potential for abuse and are not used for accepted medical purposes. Drugs such as LSD, heroin, and marijuana fall into this category.
  • Schedule II - drugs that are used for medical purposes but are addictive and subject to a high incidence of abuse. Methadone, cocaine, PCP, and methamphetamine are Schedule II drugs.
  • Schedule III - drugs that have an accepted medical use, a moderate level of dependency, but are less subject to abuse than Schedule II drugs. Codeine is one example of a Schedule III drug.
  • Schedule IV - drugs that are used for medical purposes but are not considered as addictive or subject to abuse as Schedule III drugs. Prescription medications like Xanax, Ativan, and Valium are classified as Schedule IV drugs.
  • Schedule V - drugs that include drugs contained in over-the-counter medication that pose little - if any - risk for dependency or abuse.

Arizona State Penalties for Drug Crimes

In general, Arizona penalties in drug crime cases take into consideration the schedule of drug(s) involved and the circumstances surrounding a case. Were firearms involved? If drugs were found in your car, was a minor in the car with you? In drug trafficking and possession cases, what was the quantity of drugs involved? Here, penalties could include prison time and a heavy fine. If the amount of drugs involved is over a threshold amount, State prosecutors will likely seek a mandatory prison term. Crimes involving the transportation, sale, or distribution of drugs are class-two offenses and carry anywhere from 4 to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

First-Time Marijuana Offenders and Arizona Diversion Programs

In first-time drug possession cases involving a small amount of marijuana, adults are eligible to participate in a deferred prosecution program. If you don’t have any prior drug or violent felony convictions, you may be able to have the drug charges dropped after the successful completion of a Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC) program. After you have completed your treatment, the TASC will recommend the charges against you be dropped and your record will be expunged.

For more information regarding drug sentencing in Arizona and how we can help you, contact drug crimes defense attorneys at Blumberg & Associates today.