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.
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.
A 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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What People Say
“I still have a clean record to this day.”
One piece of advice for people who are charged with anything in Arizona is to hire a great lawyer because the state does not care if you’re innocent or not. The Arizona legal system will try to ruin your life. A couple of years ago I was the victim of an antisemitic hate crime when a guy named Billy, who had a history of drug and alcohol issues and was thrown out of the Navy for being violent, decided to attack me after drinking all day in Old Town (Sunday funday) over a pointless argument over whether it’s better to buy homes immediately post-recession or during the 10th year of a bull market run which was his argument. The disagreement led to Billy making several anti-semitic comments and assaulting me, which led to me beating up billy. Billy and his friends then went to the police and lied to try to get me thrown in jail for months for assault while getting 10s of thousands of dollars in restitution in the process. I hired David Maletta. We went to court and destroyed Billy and his best friend/roommate Taylor who were trying to extort me and ruin my life. In Arizona there is a 3.5% chance you’ll get all charges dropped because of how hard the state is on crime but we pulled it off and I still have a clean record to this day.
MJ Walsh - Google Review
“Responsive, sympathetic, professional, patient, and kind.”
On one of the worst and most surreal nights of my life (do not EVER get a DUI people!) I was lucky enough to find my way to Tim Hintze. Being in Phoenix for the Thanksgiving holiday from out of town, and after spending the evening with family, I ended up spending the night in jail.
Tim turned one of the worst experiences in my life into “it could have been so much worse!” Working with him from a different state, he covered the bases & paperwork, showed up for me in court, gave me numerous connections to muck my way through the system, and held my hand the whole way.
I cannot imagine how much worse this experience could have been, and thanks to Tim, I didn’t need to. He was responsive, sympathetic, professional, patient, and kind throughout the long process, drawn out by many months due to Covid.
Keep Tim’s number handy and in your contacts in the event you are ever in the sorry position to need a DUI lawyer!
Holly Weber - Google Review
“Listens to every request that you make on a case”
I honestly just want to let it be known to any and everyone looking for an attorney on a case. Whether it be DUI, possession, or your every day to day traffic violations where you need representation attorney Tim Hintze is your man. You have to respect a man that listens to every request that you make on a case and he gets in there and gets it done. Tim has my respect as an attorney and being a well-rounded representer. From him being honest on the possibility and options for your case to him being easy to work and communicate with via over the phone or face to face Mr. Hintze is working it out.
Ben - AVVO Review
“I would give them more stars, but the option is not there”
Best divorce lawyers in Arizona, hands down. Timothy Hintz handled my divorce, and as a father, I have my son and our house. I would give them more stars, but the option is not there. His paralegal Jennifer Bone is extremely competent, and the whole team is very friendly. Took a big weight off, having them behind me.
Joseph A. - Google Review
“Very professional, very empathetic, and very responsive to all the issues.”
I had the opportunity to work with Darin during a very troublesome time in my life. As a family attorney, I found him to be very professional, very empathetic, and very responsive to all the issues I faced. I would recommend him to anyone without a second thought. Thank you, Darin!
Gary C. - Google Review
“Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently”
I had an incident and was given the catch-all charge. There wasn’t really anything I could do by myself to get out of it. Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently to ensure that I would have the best possible outcome from my case. Which he successfully achieved! As of right now, I am on the path to having my case fully dismissed. A couple of things that really helped me through this process was that Tim did an amazing job at answering my questions. He was available almost anytime and would respond promptly when he got my emails. He was also very approachable and comforting to be around while we had in person meetings and especially when I was at the court house. I would trust him and the company he works for with any other cases in the future, and as of right now, they will be my first choice if I need a lawyer in the future.
Dylan - AVVO Review
“There is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David”
I hired David Maletta and it was the best decision of my life. His knowledge, genuine interest, overall attitude, and ability to connect with people is incomparable. I could talk about all of this at length. I COULD do all of that, but that wouldn’t do David justice. He first and foremost demonstrates his interest and genuine care for his client. Being in uncharted territory with a criminal charge and nowhere to turn, David’s presence and personality put all nerves at ease. I went through a jury trial with David beside me. The trial ran for 3 days and I spent a significant amount of time with David one-on-one. During this stressful time, he wanted to hear my input and thoughts on everything. David was incredible from the first day I met him. Not only is he a great attorney, but he is also a great person who cares about people and finding justice for his clients. He connects to the human side of people. I can’t put into words how much David cares about the individual in a case. When it comes to the courtroom, there is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David.
Jacob - AVVO Review
“Nothing but good things to say about my experience.”
I have nothing but good things to say about my experience working with David Maletta. I was in a very high-stress situation facing a pending DUI charge. He doesn’t know this, but I actually interviewed 5 potential lawyers, and he was the most optimistic of all of them. He took over and handled everything, and now I don’t have to live with a DUI. Thank you so much for everything! Highly recommend them to anyone looking for legal help.
Lauren Koontz - Google Review
“He fights for his clients like no one I have ever seen”
David Maletta is the absolute best trial attorney in the state of Arizona. He is a kind, emphatic, and extremely patient person. As an attorney, he is prepared, aggressive, and extremely skilled. He is not afraid to go to trial and fight for his clients, like other attorneys that just plead their clients to the original charges. When he is in trial, he flips a switch and goes from a nice guy to a killing machine. He fights for his clients like no one I have ever seen. Watching him do a cross-examination is exhilarating because he is so good it’s scary.
Patricia Bevins - Google Review
“The calm in the middle of my storm…”
I recently consulted with Darin after my wife filed for divorce. He was referred to me by a friend whom I very much trust. Darin was the antithesis of the first two attorneys I consulted (who were matter-of-fact and had very little empathy about the fact that I was struggling emotionally with what was transpiring). From the first few minutes of speaking with Darin, it was obvious that he was very knowledgeable and skilled with divorce and family matters. While that was most important to me, the thing that made the difference was his calming, logical, and empathetic approach. He took the time to listen and empathize with me. He took the time to understand what I wanted to achieve through this process and laid out my options. After the consultation, I knew he would be my attorney if I had to pull the trigger. I, ultimately, didn’t have to engage Darin’s services due to a reconciliation with my wife. I hope I never have to go through that process again. However, if I do, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt who I will be hiring to represent me…Darin R. Colburn. Darin, thank you for caring and being more than an attorney.
Frank - AVVO Review
“I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.”
Dave stayed with me while he pushed back and forth with Covid-19 and the delays with court. Once cited, the state basically decides that you’re guilty through the automatic suspension of your drivers license. Dave immediately took care of that problem and I never lost the privilege of driving. Dave took notes like crazy and was upfront about our uphill battle. I was also well aware that the plea deal that was given to us, was unacceptable and through Dave’s knowledge and experience I had put my trust in him to guide me to make the right decision on how to proceed. With Dave’s guidance I had decided that we needed to fight for something better than what the prosecutor was offering and Dave was 100 percent behind me on that decision. We knew the risks, be we also knew we had very little to lose based on the prosecutions stance. We decided to go to trial… Watching the prosecution and then watching Dave was night and day!! It was clear to the jury that the prosecution didn’t have their facts straight and were not addressing the facts that they could not address…There was a lot at stake for my personal life and my work life. I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.
Gregory - AVVO Review
“David was relentless in his pursuit of my son’s innocence”
We retained David Maletta to represent our son after being cited for what can only be described as a momentary lapse of reason. David was extremely knowledgeable, was able to clearly communicate very complicated concepts, and was relentless in his pursuit of my son’s innocence. He had strong relationships with the prosecuting attorney and respect of the judge, which ultimately resulted in my son learning a really hard lesson with limited consequences (traffic school and writing an essay to the judge on the physics of driving 130MPH and what happens if that goes badly). I have already sent all of my friends with teenage and 20 year old kids his contact information for when they inevitably get that call. David completely exceeded all of our expectations and we could not recommend him any stronger. Thank you for everything.