What do I do when I'm charged with a drug crime?
The following text is a transcript for the video above.
Drug charges are a serious matter in Arizona. Police officers often times go undercover as an informant, referred to as a confidential informant because they don't tell you that they are working for the police or that they are a police officer. Their sole purpose is to find people and try to convince them that they should find some drugs and sell those to the undercover agent. The undercover agent keeps track of these sales and transactions. There could be more than one, two, or three sales. The drug could be cocaine, it could be marijuana, it could heroine, it could be anything.
I have a client who was approached with a friend that said hey you know I can show you how to make some extra money. He said all you need to do is sell fentanyl. So he told him yeah I like to make money but I don't where to get fentanyl. He said I tell you what, I'll give you the name and the phone number of a guy to contact and then I can provide you with the fentanyl. The contact that he gave him was a undercover police officer. He didn't know that he was talking to police officer. The police officer convinced him that he should get a lot, 129,000 pills with fentanyl on them. The problem that my client had he didn't have access to that number to begin with because he wasn't involved in drugs in the first place. He just looked around for people that could provide him with the fentanyl pills. The cop kept on telling him no, I need more, I need more, keep getting me more. After six months, he was finally able to put together 129,000 of these pills to sell to the undercover cop. Unfortunately for the state it turned out the police officer had violated some constitutional rights. We were able to successfully resolve that particular case. But this is just one of those incidents where you have to be careful.
If you are engaged in criminal conduct, if you are selling drugs, or providing drugs to anybody, it's always good to involve an experienced criminal defense attorney. When you are charged with a drug offense somebody who has done those cases in the past they know how the case is going to be prosecuted, so that they can search the records, search the evidence search the police reports, search and investigate and look for those incidents where an individual's constitutional rights have been violated. That can be used to the advantage of the accused.
Drug crimes are serious criminal offenses in Arizona. Depending on the offense, charges can be filed as misdemeanors or felonies. Prosecutors throw the book at alleged drug crime offenders and try to get the worst possible sentence if convicted. Oftentimes, your best option is to fight the charge. Other times, a plea deal may be most beneficial. Regardless of what the best outcome is, you will only get that result if you have a drug crimes defense attorney working hard to defend you against allegations of drug crimes in Arizona.
Understanding Drug Crimes in Arizona
Drug crimes refer to a broad category of acts involving illegal drugs. They include the use, possession, manufacturing, and distribution of unlawful controlled substances as well as unauthorized prescriptions and drug paraphernalia.
Common Prescription Drugs involved in Drug Crimes
Prescription drugs are legal only when lawfully prescribed and used. They become unlawful when unlawfully prescribed, used, possessed, or distributed.
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Phenobarbital (Luminal)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
- Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
Common Drug Paraphernalia involved in Drug Crimes
Drug paraphernalia can be items that are obviously needed for drug use but also items that have everyday uses in the home.
- rolling paper
- roach clips
- syringes, needs, or small spoons
- bongs and hookahs
- tin foil
- straws or paper tubes
- razorblades or cards
Understanding Drug Crimes Classifications
Controlled substances are classified by the federal government into five classes. These classes are organized according to the drug's potential for abuse balanced with its potential medical use.
- Class 1: These drugs have no medical benefits but a high potential for abuse. These are no safe methods of use even if supervised by a medical professional. Examples include heroin, hallucinogens (like LSD), and even marijuana even though marijuana is legal for recreational and/or medical purposes in many states.
- Class 2: These drugs have some medical use but a high potential for abuse and addiction. examples include morphine and other stimulants and painkillers. This category also includes cocaine.
- Class 3: These drugs also have some medical use but the potential for abuse and addiction is lower. Examples include anabolic steroids, ketamine, and painkillers that combine opiates with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Class 4: These drugs have significant medical use and low potential for abuse and addiction. examples include barbiturates like Phenobarbital and sedatives like Valium and Xanax.
- Class 5: These drugs also have significant medical use and lower risk of abuse or addiction. Examples include cough syrup, anti-diarrheal drugs, and other household drugs.
Each state may classify controlled substances according to its own specific categories and laws. You always want to speak to a drug crimes defense lawyer to know what applies in your case.
Arizona Penalties for Drug Crime Convictions
A range of penalties is available to the court when sentencing drug offenders, including:
- Probation or community supervision
- Court-ordered drug counseling sessions or rehabilitation
- Community service
- Incarceration, including life imprisonment
When sentencing for a drug crime, the court usually takes into account:
- the type and amount of drugs involved
- whether possession was for personal use or distribution
- the offender's previous convictions, especially for drug offenses
There are also mandatory minimum sentences attached to some drug offenses or for repeat offenders.
Defenses to a Drug Crime Allegation
Here are some common defenses that may be applicable to drug crimes in Arizona:
Illegal Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement conducted a search without a valid warrant or without meeting an exception to the warrant requirement, evidence obtained during the search may be suppressed.
Lack of Possession: Prosecutors must prove that the accused had actual or constructive possession of the illegal drugs. If there is doubt about whether the accused possessed the drugs, it can be a defense.
Lack of Knowledge: If the accused was unaware that the substance in their possession was illegal or did not know it was a controlled substance, it may be a defense. However, this defense can be complex and may require specific evidence to support the lack of knowledge.
Illegal Traffic Stop: If the initial traffic stop that led to a drug-related arrest was conducted without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, the defense may challenge the legality of the stop and any subsequent searches.
Miranda Rights Violation: If law enforcement fails to read the accused their Miranda rights before custodial interrogation, any statements made during that interrogation may be suppressed.
Chain of Custody Issues: The defense may challenge the integrity of the evidence by questioning the chain of custody. If there are gaps or inconsistencies in how the evidence was handled, it can weaken the prosecution's case.
Entrapment: If law enforcement induced or coerced the accused into committing a drug-related crime that they would not have committed otherwise, it may be a defense.
Medical Necessity: In certain cases involving medical marijuana or other prescription drugs, the defense may argue that the accused had a legitimate medical reason for possessing or using the substance.
Each case is unique, and the viability of these defenses depends on the specific facts and circumstances. A skilled criminal defense attorney can evaluate the details of your case and help determine the most effective defense strategy.
Why Fight a Drug Crime Allegation in Arizona
A conviction for a drug crime can have serious, long-lasting consequences.
Aside from any penalty you receive, a conviction for a drug offense usually stays on your criminal history for the rest of your life. This can negatively impact your ability to find work, maintain personal relationships, hold a driver's license, secure a loan, enlist in the military, or own a gun.
For these reasons, you should immediately speak to a drug crime defense lawyer at Brian DiPietro Law, PLLC if you've been charged with a drug crime.
How a Drug Crime Defense Attorney in Maricopa County Can Help
Even minor drug offenses can attract harsh penalties and affect your future. The law around drug offenses is complex and can involve both state and federal authorities. So, it's important to find a defense lawyer who is well-versed in these types of offenses.
They can explain the process, your rights, and any defenses available to you to fight the charges. They can also advocate on your behalf when negotiating with the prosecution or representing you in court. This is why you should contact Brian DiPietro Law, PLLC if you or someone you love is facing drug charges.
Contact a Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer in Maricopa County
With the help of a lawyer experienced in defending drug crimes, you can minimize the potential effects of a drug conviction on your future or even avoid a conviction in the first place. Get started on your defense by contacting Brian DiPietro Law, PLLC either by calling 623-242-2655 or filling out an online form today to schedule a free initial consultation.