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Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Arizona

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Possesion of Drug Paraphernalia

Possession of drug paraphernalia in Arizona can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Drug paraphernalia includes anything you might use to store, prepare, make, contain, ingest, inject, or consume illegal drugs. The definition is very broad and can include common items like baggies, scales, aluminum foil, capsules, pipes, rolling papers, straws, spoons, grinders, and needles.

When prosecutors decide to charge drug paraphernalia as a felony offense, the case will be filed in superior court. If they decide to charge possession of drug paraphernalia as a misdemeanor, it will be filed in justice court or municipal court.

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Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Charges

What is Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Arizona?

Possession of drug paraphernalia is codified at ARS 13-3415. Under this statute, you can be charged with a criminal offense if you use or possess paraphernalia with the intent to use it for cultivating, manufacturing, selling, transporting, or using illegal drugs.

Under the Arizona Revised Statute 13-3415, paraphernalia is defined very broadly, and you can be charged with this offense when you are caught with many different types of household items. Police officers consider how different objects are found and their proximity to any illegal drugs when they decide whether to charge people with possession of drug paraphernalia.

For example, if you have sandwich bags in a kitchen drawer with other food storage items, you will not be likely to be charged with drug paraphernalia. However, if you have sandwich bags together with a kitchen scale and a large amount of cash, you might be charged with possession of paraphernalia.

Penalties for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia

The penalties you might face for a conviction of possessing drug paraphernalia will depend on your criminal record and whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

The penalties for both misdemeanor and felony drug paraphernalia convictions are described below.

Misdemeanor Drug Paraphernalia

If the police only caught you with drug paraphernalia but found no usable quantity of drugs, you will be charged with a misdemeanor in justice or municipal court.

If you are convicted of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to a maximum of six months in jail
  • Fines and surcharges totaling $3,600
  • Probation of up to three years
  • Substance abuse screening, drug counseling, and classes

Under Arizona Proposition 200, the court cannot sentence you to jail for a first or second possession of paraphernalia conviction. Instead, you will be placed on probation and be ordered to pay fines and attend treatment, counseling, and classes.

If your criminal history is limited, you might be able to participate in a deferred prosecution or diversion program. If you successfully complete a drug diversion program, the charge against you will be withdrawn, and your case will be dismissed.

However, whether you are allowed to participate in this type of program will be left to the prosecutor’s discretion. An experienced attorney at Colburn Hintze Maletta can negotiate with the prosecutor to try to secure your admission to this type of program.

Felony possession of drug paraphernalia

If you are charged with felony possession of drug paraphernalia, it will be a class 6 felony. It will likely be charged together with one or more other drug possession charges involving dangerous drugs or narcotic drugs.

If you are charged with possessing dangerous or narcotic drugs, you will face class 4 felony penalties for those counts if convicted.

Under Proposition 200, you cannot be sentenced to prison for a first or second non-violent drug offense.

Instead, the court will sentence you to probation, fines, drug treatment, community service, counseling, and classes. If any of the following apply, you will not be eligible for Proposition 200 sentencing:

  • You possessed methamphetamine along with paraphernalia.
  • You have two or more prior drug convictions.
  • You have violent criminal convictions on your record.

If you are not eligible for Proposition 200 sentencing, the court can sentence you to serve up to one year in jail with probation or from four months up to 5.75 years in prison. The prison time you might face will depend on your criminal record.

Defenses to Drug Paraphernalia Possession Cases

Your defense lawyer will review what happened to determine the defenses to raise in your case. Some of the potential defenses that might be available include the following:

  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • Legal possession of items deemed to be paraphernalia
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Paraphernalia for marijuana use instead of illegal drugs
  • Other defenses based on the facts

Police officers cannot stop you unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or other violation. They cannot search your vehicle without probable cause, and most searches of homes must be conducted with a warrant.

If the police found paraphernalia after completing an illegal search or seizure, your attorney may file a motion to have the evidence against you suppressed. If this happens, the prosecutor will likely dismiss the charges.

Some people are charged with possession of drug paraphernalia when they had a legitimate reason for having the objects. For example, if you are diabetic and use insulin, your attorney may get your charges thrown out if you were charged with paraphernalia possession for having syringes.

To prove that you illegally possessed drug paraphernalia, the prosecutor will need to show that you knew that the items were in your possession. If someone else left a pipe or another similar item in your vehicle without your knowledge, you could defend against your charges.

The passage of Proposition 207, which legalized recreational marijuana, also legalized possession of marijuana paraphernalia for adults. This is because it would be difficult for adults to use marijuana recreationally if they do not have the necessary paraphernalia to cultivate or ingest it.

A marijuana paraphernalia charge can likely be dismissed if you can show that you possessed the object to use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes instead of possessing it to use for another illegal substance. Similarly, you can now lawfully possess one ounce or less of marijuana as long as you are at least 21 years old.

If you are facing a pending case involving marijuana and marijuana-related paraphernalia that is covered by Proposition 207, your attorney should be able to secure a dismissal of drug charges against you.

Finally, your attorney might identify other defenses to raise based on the facts of your case.

Benefits of Searching a “Drug Lawyer Near Me”

While you might think that a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia is not a big deal, you should treat it seriously. If you are convicted of a felony offense, you will have a felony on your record.

People who have felony convictions often struggle to find employment or to be approved for credit or housing.

Drug convictions can also make you ineligible for federal student aid to help you attend institutions of higher learning.

Even a misdemeanor conviction can cause problems for you when you are looking for a job. A prospective employer would be able to see your conviction and might hesitate to hire you. Any time you are charged with a crime, it is a good idea to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

When you work with an experienced attorney, he or she can help you to understand the court process and what you might expect to happen in your case. A drug charge attorney can also negotiate with the prosecutor to try to secure a favorable plea offer to a reduced charge. In some cases, a drug defense lawyer might identify constitutional problems with the manner in which the police conducted their investigation and win dismissal of all of the charges you are facing.

If you try to represent yourself, you potentially will be expected to understand the applicable laws and rules of criminal procedure to the same degree as the prosecutor.

Whenever your potential freedom and record are at risk, you should never roll the dice by representing yourself.

The defense lawyers at Colburn Hintze Maletta are also likelier to secure a better outcome for you than you might secure on your own without the help of an attorney.

Contact the Drug Defense Lawyers at Colburn Hintze Maletta Today

The attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta are highly skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyers. We offer free and confidential consultations to people who are facing drug paraphernalia possession charges, and we understand the potential stakes that might be involved.

When you meet with our legal team, we will extensively analyze all reports and evidence in your case to provide you with an honest assessment of the prosecutor’s case against you. We investigate each case thoroughly so that we can build the strongest possible defense cases for our clients.

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