Phoenix Cocaine and Meth Defense Lawyer
When it comes to drug crimes, there are a number of factors that will determine how an offense is classified, and what the potential penalties may be if you are convicted. Two of the more important of these factors are the drug involved, and the conduct you are accused of, for example, possession, trafficking, etc.
What are the Classifications for Cocaine and Methamphetamine?
Cocaine is classified as a narcotic drug under A.R.S. 13-3401. Interestingly, according to the National Institutes of Health, the drug is not actually a narcotic, but rather powerful stimulant. Nevertheless, for almost 100 years, state and federal laws have classified cocaine as a narcotic drug. The anomaly does not, however, provide a defense against a cocaine charge in Arizona.
A.R.S. 13-3408 prohibits the use, possession, and sale of narcotic drugs (including cocaine). This includes not only possession and sale, but also offering to sell, possession for sale, manufacturing, or possession of equipment for the manufacture of cocaine, administering cocaine to another person, obtaining cocaine through deceit or fraud, and transporting or importing cocaine into Arizona. The classifications of these offenses are as follows:
- Possession of cocaine. Class 4 felony.
- Possession for sale of cocaine. Class 2 felony.
- Possession of equipment and/or chemicals for manufacturing cocaine. Class 3 felony.
- Manufacturing cocaine. Class 2 felony.
- Administering cocaine to someone else. Class 2 felony.
- Obtaining cocaine through fraud or deceit. Class 3 misdemeanor.
- Selling, transferring, or importing cocaine into Arizona, or offering to do so. Class 2 felony.
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While there are some differences in the classification of these offenses, when it comes to cocaine, the charges are all felonies, and carry the risk of stiff prison sentences.
In addition, if the amount of cocaine in your possession, or the amount involved, for example, in the importation or sale of the drug, is 9 grams or more, Arizona law says that your sentence cannot be suspended, and you may not be given probation or be released from custody unless your original sentence is served in full, less any earned release credits.
Methamphetamine is designated as a “dangerous drug” in Arizona. Although it is generally classified along with many other dangerous drugs, it is treated in certain respects more harshly than other drugs in the same class.
The penalties for possession, possession for sale, sale, trafficking, etc. generally mirror those for cocaine and other drugs classified as narcotics. But because meth is considered one of the most dangerous illegal drugs, some special rules have been applied. While many first time drug offenders are automatically eligible for probation, that provision does not apply to methamphetamine, which, under Prop 301, allows jail time for first offenders who are convicted of possession of meth for personal use.
The stigma carried by meth has even led to a special statute, A.R.S. 13-3407.01, which makes it a class 2 felony to manufacture meth under circumstances causing injury to a minor under the age of 15.
Defenses to Cocaine and Meth Charges
Being arrested is not the end of the inquiry. Each element of the charge must be proved by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. And in each case, there are a variety of defenses that may apply.
Potential defenses against these charges include:
- Lack of knowing possession. The drugs belonged to someone else and you were unaware of their presence. An example would be if you borrowed a car from a friend, were stopped by the police, and drugs were found in the vehicle, but you had no knowledge that drugs were in the car.
- Illegal search and seizure. The essence of this defense is illegally obtained evidence. It includes warrantless searches without probable cause, defective warrants, going beyond the scope of a warrant, and others.
- Faulty crime lab analysis. It is not enough that a substance looks like or smells like a particular drug. The substance must be properly analyzed by a lab to prove what it is.
Other defenses to cocaine and meth charges include entrapment, as well as police misconduct, including planting of drugs on the defendant.
Cocaine and Meth Defense Attorney in Phoenix
As we made clear above, cocaine and meth charges are serious. In each case, the charge is a felony, whether the activity is possession, use, possession for sale, trafficking or other illegal activities relating to these drugs. At The Feldman Law Firm, we are experienced drug crime lawyers. Call us. We are available to discuss your case, and your initial consultation is free.