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Drug Crimes Overview

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Choosing an Arizona Drug Crime Lawyer

In Arizona, a large number of criminal cases are filed each year. While most criminal matters filed in the state are misdemeanors, many people also face felony charges that carry potentially severe penalties.

Below you will find that we have detailed information about criminal defense and the process involved in the criminal justice system.

Criminal defense lawyers represent their clients through all stages of criminal cases, including investigations, arrests, filing of charges, pleas, motions hearings, trials, sentencing hearings, and seeking post-conviction relief.

Your criminal defense lawyer can offer guidance while helping to protect your rights and freedom.

If you are facing criminal charges, you might feel understandably overwhelmed and frightened. The criminal defense attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta, PLLC, are prepared to fight for you. We have experience with handling criminal cases at all levels.

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Arizona Drug Crimes Defense Overview

Types of Drug Charges You Might Face in Arizona

In Arizona, you might face any of the following drug offenses under several laws:

  • Using non-prescribed or illegal drugs, other than marijuana, under ARS 13-3407 is a Class 4 felony
  • Possession of controlled, non-prescribed drugs can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the type and amount
  • Distribution of drugs is charged as a felony ranging from a Class 4 to a Class 2 felony
  • Drug trafficking can be charged if you are caught bringing illegal drugs into the state and is a felony
  • Importing drugs into Arizona is a serious felony that can result in years in prison
  • Possessing drugs with the intent to sell can be charged if you possess more than 2 pounds of marijuana, 1 gram of heroin, 9 grams of methamphetamine, or 4 grams of PCP and is a serious felony ranging from a Class 4 felony to a Class 2 felony
  • Manufacturing dangerous drugs is a serious felony and can result in a maximum sentence of12.5 years for a first offense if the charges are aggravated
  • Cultivating drugs, including marijuana under ARS 13-3405(A)(3), without a license is a felony
  • Transporting illegal drugs is a felony and can be charged together with drug distribution
  • Smuggling drugs from Mexico to Arizona can be charged as a felony in state or federal court

If you are facing any of these offenses, you should retain an attorney as soon as possible, and here is why: Your attorney can review the evidence and the different reports to look for constitutional problems with how the police conducted their investigation and seized the evidence. He or she can challenge the admissibility of any illegally seized evidence and identify other defenses that might be available to you.

3 Common & Effective Types of Defenses to Drug Charges

While each case is different and has many elements, your attorney will begin by exploring the different types of defenses in your case.

1. Illegal Search & Seizure 

One potential defense might exist if the police officers violated your rights during your stop, search, or seizure.

Police officers must follow the laws under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when they stop vehicles, conduct searches, and seize evidence or people. If the officer stopped you without reasonable suspicion or searched your home or vehicle without a warrant, your attorney might be able to challenge the evidence the police gathered. Warrantless searches are generally illegal unless they meet an exception to the search warrant requirement.

In many Arizona drug cases, the police will illegally extend the length of a routine traffic stop in order to wait for a drug-sniffing dog to search your vehicle. If this happens, we may be able to suppress any evidence found as a result of the illegal seizure and search.

Your attorney will carefully review the police reports, any video footage, radio transmissions, and other evidence from the time of your arrest to determine whether a constitutional defense might be available. If your stop or search was illegal, then your attorney may file an evidentiary motion asking the court to suppress all of the evidence that the police subsequently gathered.

If this type of defense is successful, it can leave the prosecutor with no choice other than to dismiss your case.

2. Illegal Use of a Confidential Informant

Police use confidential informants to charge many drug cases involving drug sales or distribution. If the police officers used a confidential informant in your case, your attorney would likely examine the informant’s credibility.

If the police compensated the informant for providing information or gave him or her favorable treatment in his or her own case, your attorney could challenge any testimony given by the informant.

3. Mishandling or Misuse of Drug Evidence

Your attorney might also look at the chain of custody of the drugs. The prosecutor must present evidence of the chain of custody to admit the evidence in court. The chain of custody includes showing who had custody of the drugs at all times. This includes from the time they were seized until they reached the forensic lab.

If there was a break in the chain of custody, or if the drugs have gone missing, your charges might be dismissed.

Other potential defenses might include lab analysis errors, misidentification, alibi, drug planting, entrapment, or having no knowledge that the drugs were present.

Your drug crimes attorney will carefully review all the evidence to determine which defenses might apply in your case.

The Importance of a Defense Attorney for Drug Charges

Drug defense attorneys have years of legal education and experience to understand how to defend their clients against drug charges. With years of experience, the attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta have likely worked with the prosecutors, police, and judges assigned to your case. This can work in your favor and can help you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s case against you.

drug crimes lawyer can help you identify questionable conduct by the police and any inconsistencies in the prosecutor’s case. He or she might be able to win a dismissal of your charges or secure an agreement to a reduced charge or sentence.

When you have a skilled and experienced attorney on your side, your chances of securing a better outcome increase dramatically. To learn more, call the defense attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta today to schedule a consultation at (602) 825-2500.

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