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Everything to Need to Know About Drug Possession Charges

According to U.S. law enforcement statistics, approximately every 25 seconds authorities arrest a person for possession of drugs for use or intent to distribute, which means that more than one million arrests occur each year. This is a real scourge that destroys society, families and youth worldwide.

The penalties for possession of narcotics depend on the drug seized, the quantity in possession, the circumstances of the arrest, the State where the arrest was made, and whether the person has a prior record or conviction for possession or distribution.


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Drug Possession Charges

Drug possession charges cover a very wide range of offenses, from a simple misdemeanor charge for an amount of less than one gram for personal consumption, to much more serious charges such as large-scale sale and distribution of drugs as part of an international narcotics cartel that may even fall under the RICO Act.

Such charges also depend on the jurisprudence of the individual federal states, as in some states the lesser charges may be considered much more serious than in others. If at any time you encounter a drug possession charge, you can consult Soto Law for legal advice.

Arizona Drug Possession Laws

The laws in the state of Arizona clearly state that any controlled substance that is considered dangerous is considered an illegal drug and its possession is a criminal offense.

According to Arizona case law, certain drugs have “dangerousness levels” that are determined by the quantities seized.

This automatically changes the charge from possession with intent to consume to possession with intent to sell and distribute, carrying prison sentences. One of the best drug possession lawyers in Arizona is Soto Law, contact us for legal advice.

Drug Possession in the United States

The laws of the United States establish three types of drug possession:

Actual possession which occurs when authorities find illegal drugs on top of the person they are seizing. Constructive possession, which is determined when authorities detect illegal drugs in a place where the suspect has control, such as his or her home, workplace or personal vehicle. Joint possession, when authorities locate illegal drugs in an area where he or she shares control with another person, e.g., a guest, friend, family member or spouse and is charged with aiding and abetting possession. These laws have mitigating factors that affect the acquittal of the arrestee. For example, proving that the drugs seized in a vehicle or package were not his or her property and were placed there under false pretenses.

Likewise, that the drugs found in his residence were not his own, but belonged to someone else and the arrestee had no knowledge of their existence.

Types of Drugs in Arizona

Arizona has a specific list of which drugs are considered illegal and are divided into different categories: narcotic drugs, dangerous drugs, substances that emit toxic and/or addictive vapors, medications that require medical prescription, marijuana and peyote. Soto Law can help you in any drug possession situation.

Arizona Controlled Substance

Controlled substances in the state of Arizona are divided into different classifications that establish their dangerousness and lethality, with Classification I and II being the most harmful of all and carrying the worst sentences.

Classification I and II include all potentially lethal drugs that have no medical use in the United States or that have a particular substance used under strict medical supervision and prescription due to their high toxicity or lethality if not consumed with the proper prescription.

Among them are anesthetics for terminally ill patients, ibogaine, cannabis, potent opioids such as heroin, opioids considered moderate such as Vilan or palfiu m, hallucinogenic mushrooms, LSD, peyote, alkaloids, fentanyl, cocaine, opium, methadone, oxycodone, morphine in any form, amphetamines, PCP, barbiturates such as pentobarbital and methamphetamines, among others.

Classification III covers all drugs of lesser lethality and whose substances require strict medical prescription due to their narcotizing actions and strong addictive effects.

Among the main ones are anabolic steroids, barbiturates, buprenorphine, dradorna, ketamine, drugs used against narcolepsy, codeine, broad-spectrum anti-inflammatory drugs such as vicodin, sedatives such as LSA, paregoric, among others.

Classification IV covers drugs or substances considered to be of low lethality but which contain a harmful addictive component, such as xanax, valium, librium, temazepam, rohypnol (which in some States is even considered Classification I), ambien, darvocet, phenobarbital, analgesics such as pentazocine, chloral hydrate, meprobamate, among others.

Classification V covers all drugs considered mild drugs that can produce some level of moderate or mild addiction and generally the penalties for their possession and/or sale are usually minor fines or community service.

These include antitussives containing codeine, mild drugs that may contain antidiarrheals, anticonvulsants such as pregabalin and lomotil, among others. If you have any questions about controlled substances in Arizona, Soto Law can advise you.

Fines for Drug Possession

In cases where the amount of illegal drug seized is very small and it has been established that it was only for personal consumption and there was no intent to sell or distribute, the defendant will receive a fine or penalty in lieu of a conviction, but such fines for possession often vary widely depending on both the drug seized and the state in which the suspect was arrested.

For example, in states considered conservative such as Kentucky, Texas or Massachusetts, there are mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines where, in addition to the fine, a jail sentence of no less than 2 years applies, and the fines are usually very onerous, no less than $20,000. Soto Law can help you with any fines you are given for drug possession.

In contrast, other states such as California issue much lighter sentences for possession with fines ranging from $30 to $500 and minimum penalties of 15 days or 180 days of community service, depending on the drug seized.

How Many Years You Get for Drug Possession

While drug possession and trafficking is a federal crime in the United States, each state has different parameters in terms of convictions and sentences for possession, but after 2017 they all tightened their legislation and increased the penalties, which are stipulated depending on the type of drug and the amount seized. In the case of seizure of heroin (1 kilo), powder cocaine (5 kilos), pure cocaine base (280 grams), marijuana (one ton or failing that the seizure of at least 1000 plants), pure methamphetamine (50 grams) and methamphetamine mixed in various substances (500 grams), the defendants receive a sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment. In case of seizure of heroin (100 grams), powder cocaine (500 grams), pure cocaine base (28 grams), marijuana (100 kilograms or in its absence seizure of up to 100 plants), pure methamphetamine (5 grams) and methamphetamine mixed in various substances (50 grams), the defendants will receive a sentence of between 5 and 40 years imprisonment. On any lesser amount of such seized drugs the defendant can receive sentences ranging from 1 to 20 years in prison, depending on whether it is proven that such possession was with the intent to sell or distribute. It is important to note that if the defendant already has prior arrests or convictions for drug possession, these new penalties are often even more severe and without the possibility of parole. If you find yourself in any of these situations, Soto Law has the solution for you.

Drug Trafficking Attorney

The crime of drug possession is considered among the most serious in the world today, not only because it involves the trafficking of highly noxious and addictive substances that destroy society and especially the youth, but because of the immense burden of violence and subsequent criminality that comes with the possession, distribution and sale of drugs. Because of this, it is imperative that defense attorneys in these types of cases be specialists in the field. That is to say, criminal lawyers with ample knowledge of drug jurisprudence and with sufficient experience in the legal strategies and mechanisms necessary to prove the innocence of the accused, or in their absence, to look for the ideal mitigating factors to minimize sentences. Another of the most important aspects that a good criminal lawyer must have is to be a skilled litigator and to have a large team of professional experts in the different areas of investigation, who are responsible for finding the evidence or acquittal elements to exonerate their defendants. In summary, criminal defense attorneys must have a broad background in legal matters, with solid experience in court and an updated knowledge of the complex legal framework regarding drug trafficking possession, in order to offer the best defense strategy and negotiate with the prosecution the best deals for their clients. Soto Law is an attorney specializing in drug possession legal problems.