Arizona Marijuana Laws and Criminal Defense
Facing criminal charges for marijuana is serious and could mean being convicted of a felony. Hiring an Arizona criminal defense attorney is your best chance at walking away without a felony on your record.
The severity of marijuana criminal charges depends on how much marijuana you were found with and the nature of its use and origination. The amount falls into three categories:
- Less than two pounds
- Two to four pounds
- Four or more pounds
Additionally, the arresting officer will take a look at the nature of your possession including:
- If it was for personal use.
- Whether or not you were selling it.
- If you were the one who produced it.
- The state the marijuana came from and whether it was transported or imported into the state of Arizona.
Punishment for marijuana crimes
It is possible to avoid being convicted of a felony in relation to a marijuana possession charge. A seasoned attorney may be able to reduce your sentencing to a misdemeanor. Additionally, you can avoid jail time with a strong defense.
In lieu of jail time, you can take an education class or counseling to help you avoid future incidents. One such program is the Treatment Assessment Screening Centers or TASC. This helps first-time offenders avoid marijuana use in the future. There can be additional costs to attending TASC, in addition to paying you court fees and charges.
If your crimes were nonviolent and this is your first or second time being convicted of such a crime, you won’t face jail time thanks to Arizona Proposition 200. Third time offenders do face jail time however.
Cost of being convicted
Being convicted of marijuana possession is quite costly. The mandatory fine is the greater of three times the street value of the marijuana you’re found in possession of or $750. You’ll also pay an 83 percent surcharge, meaning the minimum fine you’re looking at is $1,372.50.
Additionally, if you are convicted of a felony, you must complete 25 hours at a drug rehab and treatment center. Those charged with a misdemeanor must serve eight hours of education on drugs.
If you’re seeking to defend yourself against marijuana charges, you can use the following to defend yourself.
- Usable amount – Arizona law requires a usable amount of marijuana to be in your possession for the state to charge you. One defense is to show that the amount you were found with was not usable.
- Medical marijuana – if you have a medical marijuana card and are not in possession of more than the prescribed amount, you can easily get the charges against you dropped. Just realize that you’ll need to show your medical marijuana card at the time of the incident as getting a card after the fact is not a strong defense.
- Drug paraphernalia – in some cases, the court will allow you to plead your case down to a drug paraphernalia charge instead of a possession charge. You’ll still serve community work service, but you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony and have less bearing on your future. You’ll also have fewer fees to pay for this charge.
Avoiding personal damages
If you are convicted of a drug possession felony, your reputation can be hindered significantly. You may struggle to get a job or loans, such as a school loan or mortgage.
Jobs that require fingerprinting and background checks will show your previous drug possession offense, and you’ll need to answer a lot of questions from your potential employer.
For all these reasons, it’s best to avoid a drug possession conviction altogether. To do so, you should hire an Arizona criminal defense attorney.
Click here for information on Arizona drug possession laws.