Use of a Wire Communication Device in a Drug Transaction (A.R.S. 13-3417)

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Whether in the Phoenix area, or anywhere in Arizona, per A.R.S. 13-3417, Use of Wire Communication or Electronic Communication in a Drug-Related Transaction occurs when any person uses an electronic device to facilitate a drug transaction.  This can include a land-line telephone, a cell phone, radio, walkie-talkie, etc.  Usually this is accomplished by way of text or phone conversation.

However, it’s becoming more and more common to see this occur via social media apps such as Snapchat, Facebook, or any of the other numerous communication/social networking apps which exist. Per the statute, where the transmission originated, or where it was received, is how jurisdiction is determined.

In other words, if you were to have sent a communication from Phoenix, and it was received in Tucson, then the violation will have been deemed to have occurred in either Maricopa County or Pima County.  It’s important to have a criminal defense attorney who understands the jurisdictional relevance of this statute in order to potentially have the charge dismissed based on jurisdictional grounds.

Possible Punishment for Use of a Wire Communication Device in a Drug Transaction

If the drug being sold is one of the narcotic or dangerous drugs that qualifies as a Class 4 felony, then that will be the level of felony that the Wire Communication charge will be placed at.  If the drug is one that falls under a Class 6, such as marijuana in flower form, then it will match the designation of a 6 in the actual charge.  Class 4 felonies carry a presumptive prison term of 2.5 years.  The super-mitigated term is 1 year in prison, and the super-aggravated term is 3.75 years in prison or, the judge can sentence an individual to probation which includes a jail term of anywhere from zero days in jail up to 1 year in jail.

If charged as a Class 6 felony then the presumptive term in prison is 1 year, with a super-mitigated term being 4 months in prison, and the super-aggravated term being 2 years in prison.  Again, the judge can determine that a probation sentence is warranted, and sentence a person to probation with anywhere from zero days in jail up to 1 year in jail.  Keep in mind, prison is day-for-day in custody, whereas jail time may be allowed to be served with work release or work furlough.  Thereby allowing a person to be released 12 hours a day for 5 or 6 days during the week in order to attend work, school, or both.

Possible Defenses for Use of a Wire Communication Device in a Drug Transaction

One of the most common defenses we use is that the communication was not actually sent by you.  In other words, somebody else used your phone or computer to send the communication.  This is not uncommon with multiple roommates who live in an apartment, dorm-room, fraternity house, etc.  Many times, the police are required to obtain a search warrant before they get a service provider’s records of who owns the phone/computer.  If the search warrant has a “Bad Affidavit” and it is deficient on Probable Cause regarding you specifically, then we can suppress all the evidence.  As with any case, everything depends on the totality of the circumstances.  These are charges in which we have a high success rate.

Additionally, because our law firm fights convictions from all angles, we would assert a wide range of defenses and challenges regarding constitutional violations which can apply in all criminal cases.  The possibilities are numerous and diverse.  One of those we frequently assert is a “Miranda Rights Violation.”  In Arizona, the standard of whether any incriminating statement, (i.e., a statement which intends to admit guilt) is only admissible into evidence based upon a “voluntariness” standard.  If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or an inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read your Miranda rights, we can then suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements.  In addition, “Denial of Right to Counsel,” is another common defense which is often raised.  This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney but is denied that request and the questioning continues.

Other defenses which can be used in more serious cases may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case.  Depending on what else you have been charged with, this could include exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, urine testing; finger-print analysis; DNA testing; ballistics; gun-shot residue (GSR) testing; computer analysis/cloning hard-drive procedures; forensic and financial accounting reviews; etc.

Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which includes everything from misstatements, false statements and flawed photo lineups to witness identification procedures and inaccurate crime-scene reconstruction.

It is important to hire an experienced Wire Communication Device Used in a Drug Transaction defense attorney in order to properly and successfully defend these serious felony charges.  Conviction of this crime often results in the loss of a professional license, loss of security clearance, denial of finger-print card clearances, etc. To view our Use of a Wire Communication Device in a Drug Transaction victories, click here.

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