Drug Possession Charges In The State Of Arizona


If you were caught with drugs, the charges brought against you will largely depend on the circumstances surrounding the evidence. This includes the amount of drugs in evidence, as well as the types of things that were found with the drugs. The penalty also depends on the kind of drugs you were caught with. Charges range from misdemeanors to more serious felonies.

Different Drugs Warrant Different Penalties

The state of Arizona has different penalties for different drugs – drugs are classified into different categories, and each category has its own set of standards. Whether the drugs were for personal use or for sale plays a role in the penalty you will ultimately receive for knowing possession of the drugs.


Marijuana possession is its own separate crime. Arizona considers marijuana to be neither a narcotic nor a dangerous drug. Marijuana possession, even a small quantity for personal use, is technically charged as a class 6 felony, which is the lowest level of felony. Because of its class 6 felony status, it is punishable by up to two years in prison for a first offense. Oftentimes, however, marijuana possession for personal use of a small quantity is waived down and charged as a misdemeanor, at the discretion of the prosecutor.


Any opioid medication without a prescription (“oxy” drugs, like oxycontin or oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin, etc) are treated as narcotics. Cocaine in any form and heroin are also considered narcotics. This is a class 4 felony offense when charged with possession for personal use, and can result in up to 3.75 years in prison, even for a first offense.

Dangerous Drugs

Arizona’s most problematic dangerous drug is methamphetamine (meth, G, crank, ice, glass, etc). Most possession of dangerous drug cases involve methamphetamine, but may involve other hallucinogenic drugs like ecstasy, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, or any laboratory created illicit hallucinogenic compounds. This is also a class 4 felony punishable by up to 3.75 years in prison, but it’s worth noting that the court takes methamphetamine possession incredibly seriously. The methamphetamine epidemic in Arizona has prompted prosecutors to prosecute methamphetamine possession to the fullest extent of the law.

Possession Of Paraphernalia

Possession of paraphernalia is its own crime, whether or not drugs were also found with the paraphernalia. Most people with paraphernalia charges will also have a drug charge, as these items are often stored together.

Paraphernalia is anything that can be used to smoke, ingest, store, hide, move, or prepare drugs. While paraphernalia charges often directly apply to things like pipes, baggies, and needles, they can also apply to marijuana grinders or containers, bags that are designed to hold drugs, or any equipment used to prepare or create drugs.

Possession of paraphernalia is a class 6 felony which is punishable by up to two years in prison, and it exists as a standalone charge. Paraphernalia possession is also often waived down to a misdemeanor, unless there are also felony drug charges attached.

Drug Possession For Personal Use

Personal use cases are a lot easier to navigate than cases where intent to sell drugs plays a factor. Though sales and possession for sale cases are nearly all felonieshe, avoiding or minimizing penalties is possible.

If you are a first-time offender and your possession case is small and simple, you may be able to make an arrangement with the government to attend substance abuse classes, or specific counseling instead of spending time behind bars. Not everyone is a candidate for this type of alternate sentencing. In order to explore this option, you need to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to determine your best course of action.

Possession For Sale

Possession For Sale is when someone is found with a large amount of drugs in their possession (more than several doses – the specific amount depends on the type of drug). These drugs need to be in the possession or control of the person – attempting to buy them without physically obtaining them is little more than planning, and will be charged as conspiracyor attempt to possess, rather than possession for sale.

Possession for sale is a serious felony that can lead to up to 12.5 years in prison if there are aggravating factors. If weapons are involved in the possession for sale, you can also be charges with possession of a gun during the commission of a felony drug offense, a class 4 felony, punishable by up to 3.75 years for a first offense. If the drug is meth, you could spend up to 20 years in prison, even for a first offense.

Defending Yourself Against Drug Charges

First and foremost, it is the responsibility of those who brought charges against you to establish that the drugs in question were legitimately in your possession or control. If you had a roommate who was selling marijuana while you were at work and he left a box of it in your living room, it must be proven that you were aware of what was going on if you are to face criminal consequences.

If a small amount of drugs did belong to you, you might be able to make an arrangement to reduce charges or even have them dropped if you actively seek help for an addiction problem.

Getting Legal Representation

If you are facing drug charges of any kind, it’s vital to treat them seriously. These charges can lead to years of incarceration, hefty fines and a destroyed reputation. At Doug Taylor Law, we’re willing to fight for you. Contact us now for a free consultation so we can build a defense that’s right for your unique situation.