Phoenix Drug Crimes Attorney
Law enforcement agencies devote a substantial part of their resources toward making drug arrests and prosecuting defendants to the fullest extent of the law. This is true for both Arizona state and federal offenses. In their zeal, the police and prosecutors make mistakes – they arrest the wrong person, they disregard important constitutional rights, or they charge people with trafficking crimes when they were only in possession or in the vicinity of a small amount of drugs.
Drug crimes can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the type and quantity of drugs involved. Any drug arrest can pose severe consequences; you could lose your job, your housing, and more. At Blumberg & Associates, we take every drug arrest seriously and provide a zealous and effective defense against the charges. Our Phoenix drug crime attorney is an Arizona Board-Certified Specialist in Criminal Law who knows how to protect your rights, ensure you are treated fairly, and fight for the best result in any situation. Call Blumberg & Associates in Phoenix for help with any drug offense matter, including:
How do you defend against drug charges in Arizona?
There may be one or more defenses to a drug crime charge, depending on the situation. We look at all the circumstances surrounding the arrest and all subsequent events to determine all viable defenses. Some common defenses against drug charges include:
Search and seizure – Were the police justified in their initial stop? Did they have cause to search? Did the scope of the search expand beyond their authority? Was the search warrant invalid, or were there grounds for a warrantless arrest? Individuals are constitutionally protected from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Not your drugs – When the police discover drugs, they often arrest everyone in sight and charge them with possession. If the drugs weren’t yours, if you didn’t know they were there, or if you didn’t know what they were, you should not be guilty of possession, despite what the police and prosecutors want you to believe.
No drugs in court – If you are charged with possession, distribution, trafficking or some other drug offense, the drugs themselves are an essential piece of evidence necessary to prove the crime. If the police don’t bring the drugs in question to court, if they don’t prove the drugs are what they say they are, or if they can’t prove the chain of custody linking those drugs to you, a knowledgeable defense attorney might be able to have the case dismissed.
Entrapment – It may not have been your intent to buy or sell drugs before the opportunity was presented to you by undercover officers. Did the agents cross the line and pressure you into doing something you had no intention of doing?
Misidentification – When the police rely on eyewitnesses to a drug transaction, they may be dealing with unreliable witnesses or well-meaning people who misunderstood who or what they thought they saw.
General Drug Defenses
The actions of police officers and investigators play an important role in how a drug crimes case is prosecuted. When law enforcement officers fail to follow proper procedures in executing a search warrant, interrogating a suspect, or collecting and handling evidence, their case is compromised.
At the law office of Blumberg & Associates, our attorneys carefully review the actions and decisions of police officers. We identify instances where police did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop a car, enter a home, or conduct a search. Evidence seized during an illegal search should not be admissible in court. As drug crimes defense attorneys, we expose illegal and unconstitutional searches and seizures, demanding the dismissal of charges against our client.
If you’ve been arrested for a drug crime after a car stop, search of your home, or federal investigation, contact criminal defense attorneys at Blumberg & Associates today to discuss your case.
The following issues often arise in drug crime cases. Whether or not the charges against you should be dropped or evidence excluded at trial will depend on the circumstances of your case and the actions of the officers involved.
- Car stops and searches: Did an officer have a legitimate reason to pull you over? Did he see or detect the presence of something either through smell or plain sight to justify a search of your car? Were you the driver or the passenger? If drugs were found, were they yours? Did the officer ask you if the drugs were yours or did he simply arrest you?
- Execution of a Search Warrant: Did officers confine themselves to the areas specified by the search? Was the judge who signed it aware of all the facts?
- Interrogative Custody or Under Arrest: Were you detained prior to being arrested? Did officers tell indicate whether you were under arrest, being detained, or free to go? When were your Miranda rights read to you? Did they ask you permission to search your car, home, or person prior to placing you under arrest?
- Informants and Plea Bargains: Did the government use informants or witnesses turned State’s evidence in prosecuting you? Were these informants or witnesses offered a reduced sentence in exchange for testimony against you? If informants were used, did law enforcement officers look the other way regarding criminal activity they may have been involved in?
State Sentencing in Drug Crime Cases
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.
How is marijuana treated in Arizona criminal laws?
Marijuana is legal for medicinal uses, and a recreational-use law may be coming in the future, but any use is still illegal under federal law. While the DEA is unlikely to bust somebody for simple possession, if you are caught with more than what they consider for personal use, you could be charged with trafficking and face serious penalties. Law enforcement officers also sometimes arrest the lowest-level drug offenders in hopes of working their way up the ladder to major dealers and distributors.
Even if you have a medical marijuana card, there are still limits on how much pot you can buy and how often, as well as where you can get it from. Without a medical card, possession of under two pounds of marijuana can be charged as a Class 6 felony, with punishments including six to 18 months in jail and up to $150,000 in fines. Someone charged with possession is more likely to get probation for a first or second offense, along with a court-ordered drug treatment program. Probation is often a good result, but you can still be left with a criminal record as well as more severe penalties should you violate your probation in any way. Be sure to discuss your case with an experienced Arizona criminal defense lawyer before making any decisions about how to plead or giving statements to the police.
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.
Strategic Advice and Zealous Representation in Phoenix Drug Crime Cases
When the weight of the federal government is against you, get the best chance you can by seeking the help of an experienced and successful criminal law specialist. For assistance with a drug arrest or prosecution in Arizona, call Blumberg & Associates for help from an experienced and successful Phoenix drug crime attorney.