Arizona is in a prime location for drug trafficking across borders. Any border state is at significant risk for drugs finding their way in or out of Mexico, or even South America. Because of the state’s location, the law is designed to be notoriously hard on anyone caught with drugs in Arizona. Heroin is widely considered to be among the most dangerous drugs available on the street, and the law is designed to reflect its devastating potential.

Arizona’s Classification of Drugs

Arizona classifies drugs in three separate categories. Each category of drug is subject to a specific set of penalties. Marijuana is in a category all of its own, and individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana are most likely to receive a slap on the wrist. Since marijuana is legal for recreational use in so many states, the states where it is not yet legal have a tendency to treat it as a misdemeanor.

The next classification is dangerous drugs. Dangerous drugs is the umbrella term for most hallucinogens, natural or otherwise. This category typically houses drugs that do not have physically addictive properties that are often utilized at parties or music festivals.

The third and most serious classification is narcotics. Heroin is a narcotic, as is cocaine. Opiate pain pills without a prescription are regarded the same as heroin. Being caught with heroin in any amount is likely to result in severe charges.

Being Charged With Multiple Crimes Relating to Heroin

If you were found to only have heroin in your possession, you’ll only face a possession charge. If you were found to have paraphernalia, that’s a separate charge. Most drug users have a tendency to store their instruments (syringes, needles, pipes, etc.) with their stash. Depending on the amount of heroin and the circumstances under which it was discovered, you may face additional charges.

Factors, Circumstances, and Statutory Thresholds

The average struggling heroin user is unlikely to face the full force of the law, especially if they have no prior criminal charges. Someone found with a very small amount of heroin for personal use under non-violent or dangerous circumstances is going to have a much easier time reducing their charges than someone found with several bricks of heroin and a bunch of weapons.

If it appears as though your plan was to sell the heroin or create a heroin selling operation, the charges will become far more complex. Penalties are likely to be more severe for individuals who have a prior criminal history pertaining to the possession or sale of drugs.

Arizona sentences according to statutory threshold amounts. Heroin has one of the smallest statutory threshold amounts for mandatory prison time. That amount is just one gram. Anything at or exceeding a gram will lead to the most severe sentences, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the bust.

Penalties for Possession of Heroin in Arizona

First time offenders caught with less than one gram of heroin are unlikely to face jail time. With the help of adequate representation, they can be sentenced to probation and drug intervention programs. If that amount of heroin was greater than one gram, the individual is subjected to the sentencing imposed by the statutory threshold.

Unfortunately, one gram is not very much. Even the slightest bit over the one gram mark completely changes the case. Many people caught possessing heroin will have to face prison time, even if they’ve never been in trouble before. Repeat offenders are likely to see the worst of it.

Second and Third Offense:

Felony Class Expected Sentence
Class 5 0.5 to 2.5 years in prison
Class 4 1.1 to 3.7 years in prison
Class 3 1.8 years to 8.7 years in prison
Class 2 3 years to 12.5 years in prison

Second offense is probation available. Third and subsequent offenses are prison mandatory.

Second Offense Exceeding Statutory Threshold

Felony Class Expected Sentence
Class 5 0.5 to 2.5 years in prison
Class 4 1.1 to 3.7 years in prison
Class 3 1.8 years to 8.7 years in prison
Class 2 3 years to 12.5 years in prison

Not probation available. 

Third Offense Exceeding Statutory Threshold

Felony Class Expected Sentence
Class 5 0.75 to 5 years in prison
Class 4 1.5 to 6.2 years in prison
Class 3 2.5 years to 11.2 years in prison
Class 2 4 years to 15 years in prison

In addition to jail time, convicted offenders may be liable for a fine as large as $150,000 per charge. If the charges relate to something that could be considered a criminal enterprise, or “drug ring”, the fines may be $1 million per charge.

Getting Help When You’ve Been Charged with Heroin Possession in Arizona

Heroin possession is a crime that warrants heavy punishment in Arizona, especially since the statutory threshold amount is so low. The Damianakos Law Firm knows how to help. As a former prosecutor, Elias Damianakos understands firsthand how felony narcotics cases play out.

If you have been charged with heroin possession in the Tucson area, especially if the amount exceeds the statutory threshold, contact the Damianakos Law Firm for a free consultation. The sooner you act, the sooner we can begin preparing an aggressive defense.