Arizona’s methamphetamine epidemic has grown to massive proportions. Nearly every law enforcement agency throughout the state reports that meth is one of the easiest to access drugs within their jurisdiction. Routine busts lead to the seizure of millions of dollars worth of meth exiting the state, likely having been manufactured near the border or smuggled in from Mexico, where most major manufacturing operations are located.
With the amount of meth throughout the state, methamphetamine possession charges make up a significant percentage of drug charges in Arizona. If you’ve been charged with methamphetamine possession, we may be able to help.
The Three Classifications of Drugs
Arizona has three different classifications for drugs. Marijuana is its own classification, as modern laws encourage states where it is not yet recreationally legal to take a softer stance than they have in years past. The most severe class of drugs is narcotics, which would include heroin, cocaine, and opiate pain medication without a prescription.
The middle class, called dangerous drugs, contains methamphetamine amongst many hallucinogens and party drugs. Unlike the marijuana or narcotic classifications where most drugs are treated the same but subject to different minimum sentencing depending on statutory threshold amounts, the dangerous drugs category has more room for interpretation. The system may be gentler with someone possessing something like a small amount of psilocybin mushrooms, but it won’t treat someone with methamphetamine the same way. Methamphetamine, especially because of the epidemic, is treated virtually identically to a narcotic.
Other Charges Relating to Methamphetamine Possession
Methamphetamine is virtually useless without paraphernalia, which will rack up an additional charge. Any pipes or implements used to consume methamphetamine will lead to an additional charge if they are discovered during the same search or investigation. Any weapons uncovered during the search will likely lead to additional charges that further complicate the case.
Circumstances Surround the Charge and Statutory Threshold Amounts of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine charges are slightly harder to calculate than other charges for similar dangerous drugs. Some drugs in the same category can be reduced to class one misdemeanor, particularly plant based hallucinogens in small amounts. Methamphetamine possession is never reduced to a class 1 misdemeanor, no matter how small the amount.
Sentencing largely depends on the threshold amounts and the circumstances. Each drug has a statutory threshold amount where possession of that weight or greater leads to mandatory prison time, even if the drug wasn’t discovered to be sold by the individual who is charged. Methamphetamine’s statutory threshold amount is 9 grams, meaning that 9 grams or more is no longer considered a simple possession charge. The law sees 9 grams as too much methamphetamine for one individual and raises the charges to possession for sale.
Penalties for Possession of Methamphetamine in Arizona
As a first offense, the minimum sentence is typically 1.5 years in prison. Depending on the circumstances, that time can be reduced to 1 year or raised to 2.5 years. It is very difficult, although not unheard of, to have an attorney successfully assist in switching sentences with probation rather than a lengthy prison sentence.
Anything at or above 9 grams of methamphetamine is charged as possession for sale, as such a large amount is not deemed as being a reasonable amount of personal use. Without any other factors, the prison term is likely to be between 3 and 5 years. The average prison term is four years, but an attorney may be able to argue those charges down.
If the methamphetamine charge came along with weapons charges or other charges related to violent criminal behavior, the circumstances will change the outcome of the case. Under those circumstances, the penalty can be upwards of a 12 year prison sentence.
Because of the law’s strict stance on meth, a competent attorney is necessary to defend anyone with meth related charges. Often, creating enough doubt that the meth actually belonged to the individual or ruthlessly questioning the validity of the search that uncovered the meth may be enough to have evidence suppressed or charges dropped. In cases where a prison sentence of more than a decade is possible and common for people who do not prepare an adequate defense, those facing charges do not have any time to waste.
What to Do When You’ve Been Charged with Methamphetamine Possession
Convictions for methamphetamine possessions can destroy lives. Don’t leave your fate to chance. As soon as you’ve been charged with a methamphetamine related crime, contact the Damianakos Law Firm. Elias Damianakos, formerly an Arizona prosecutor, understands how to properly utilize the law to defend individuals facing serious dangerous drugs charges.
When you need a competent and aggressive Tucson area attorney, contact us for a free consultation. The sooner we speak with you, the sooner we can begin preparing a defense to reduce or fight your methamphetamine possession charges.