A question we get from clients quite often is What is Possession of a Dangerous Drug in Arizona?
In this short video, David Cantor explains Dangerous Drug charges in Arizona:
Arizona law defines a dangerous drug as a prescription narcotic that is not marijuana. Usually, dangerous drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine or prescription drugs used as antidepressants or pain medication.
A.R.S. §13-3407, the statute that addresses the possession or use of a dangerous drug in Arizona, establishes a variety of parameters regarding dangerous drugs. In addition to defining dangerous drugs, the statute categorizes the offense as a class 4 felony. However, if the offender has no prior felony convictions and if the drug is not an amphetamine or a methamphetamine, the judge could reduce the offense to a class 1 misdemeanor.
Proposition 200, enacted by Arizona voters in 1996, made many offenses for possession of drugs punishable by only probation, including first and second non-violent crimes. This means that offenders will receive no time in custody unless they violate their probation terms and are arrested. In that event, the defendant could need to wait in jail until the courts reinstate probation, which could take up to a month. However, possession of methamphetamine does not qualify for Proposition 200 designation.
Drug offenders who are charged with a misdemeanor could receive up to six months in custody for probation violation. Sometimes, another option for first-time drug offenders is TASC, which defers prosecution for one to two years until the defendant fulfills all the requirements of the program. While the program is strict and well-structured, it enables defendants to qualify for a complete dismissal of the possession of dangerous drugs charge.
For six months, TASC candidates must attend a weekly group counseling session and attend two support group meetings a week, such as AA or NA. They must also complete a three-hour substance abuse education class and submit to drug and alcohol testing as scheduled. Finally, they must report for at least one office visit every month. Offenders are responsible for all program costs, which range from $2,000 to $2,500.
A class 4 felony that is determined ineligible for Proposition 200 can mean a sentence ranging from probation with no time in custody up to a prison sentence of between 12 months and 45 months. For an offender who has a prior felony record, the time in custody increases accordingly.
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