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Drug Crimes

Overview of Possession of a Dangerous Drug Laws in Arizona

A question we get from clients quite often is What is Possession of a Dangerous Drug in Arizona?

In this short video, David Cantor explains Dangerous Drug charges in Arizona:

Arizona law defines a dangerous drug as a prescription narcotic that is not marijuana. Usually, dangerous drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine or prescription drugs used as antidepressants or pain medication.

A.R.S. §13-3407, the statute that addresses the possession or use of a dangerous drug in Arizona, establishes a variety of parameters regarding dangerous drugs. In addition to defining dangerous drugs, the statute categorizes the offense as a class 4 felony. However, if the offender has no prior felony convictions and if the drug is not an amphetamine or a methamphetamine, the judge could reduce the offense to a class 1 misdemeanor.

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Proposition 200, enacted by Arizona voters in 1996, made many offenses for possession of drugs punishable by only probation, including first and second non-violent crimes. This means that offenders will receive no time in custody unless they violate their probation terms and are arrested. In that event, the defendant could need to wait in jail until the courts reinstate probation, which could take up to a month. However, possession of methamphetamine does not qualify for Proposition 200 designation.

Drug offenders who are charged with a misdemeanor could receive up to six months in custody for probation violation. Sometimes, another option for first-time drug offenders is TASC, which defers prosecution for one to two years until the defendant fulfills all the requirements of the program. While the program is strict and well-structured, it enables defendants to qualify for a complete dismissal of the possession of dangerous drugs charge.

For six months, TASC candidates must attend a weekly group counseling session and attend two support group meetings a week, such as AA or NA. They must also complete a three-hour substance abuse education class and submit to drug and alcohol testing as scheduled. Finally, they must report for at least one office visit every month. Offenders are responsible for all program costs, which range from $2,000 to $2,500.

A class 4 felony that is determined ineligible for Proposition 200 can mean a sentence ranging from probation with no time in custody up to a prison sentence of between 12 months and 45 months. For an offender who has a prior felony record, the time in custody increases accordingly.

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Can I get a DUI in Arizona with a Medical Marijuana Card?

With the recent approval of the Medical Marijuana program in Arizona there are a lot of questions out there regarding Marijuana and DUI charges. One of the questions we get asked a lot is ‘Can I get a DUI in Arizona with a Medical Marijuana card?‘ David Cantor answers this question in the short video below:

So, can I get a DUI in Arizona with a Medical Marijuana Card?

Yes, under Arizona law the important thing is ‘are you impaired by the drug’. If you are found to be impaired, you can be arrested for a Drug DUI.

If you have a drug in your system and don’t have a prescription, you are looking at a DUI with a metabolite of an illegal or illicit drug in your system.

If you have a medical marijuana card, you can still be charged with DUI if the officer thinks you are impaired by the marijuana.

Now there has been some debate, with marijuana there are two types of metabolites, active and inactive. Active metabolites effect your brain and would make you impaired to drive, in this instance you would have just smoked marijuana or have smoked it within the last couple of hours.

Inactive metabolites show up a day or two after you’ve smoked and will also show up in your urine up to 30 days later. The inactive metabolite is the one that can get you arrested for DUI if you do not have a medical marijuana card.

But if you do have the card, there are arguments you can make that you were not impaired at the time of arrest and there is an actual defense to the Marijuana DUI charge. So if you have gotten a DUI for Marijuana and have your Medical Marijuana Card, call us at (602) 307-0808 because we can help you. For more information regarding a Drug DUI in Arizona, click here.

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Drug-Sniffing Dogs at Your Front Door? Florida SC says it IS a Search.

Picture of Drug Police DogThe Florida State Attorney General asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Florida Supreme Court case holding that police officers are required to have probable cause to use a drug dog to sniff outside your door. This case arose out of an investigation of a Miami house, where police were tipped off that the owner was growing marijuana. Surveillance and traditional investigation did not reveal anything, however the police then used drug sniffing dogs on the front porch which alerted them to the presence of marijuana emanating from the inside of the home. The Attorney General is arguing that the Florida decision is inconsistent with the Court’s jurisprudence in Illinois v. Caballes, holding that a dog sniff of a persons’ car was not a search within the 4th Amendment.

What does this all mean for you?

Well, as of right now, if police officers want to use a drug dog in their investigation of you, they don’t have to have probable cause that you have committed a crime. However, if the Supreme Court grants certiorari, here are the options (in an overly simplified form):

  1. Worst Case Scenario: The Supreme Court could reverse the Florida Supreme Court, and affirm Illinois v. Caballes, and state that police officer’s don’t need probable cause to use a drug sniffing dog on your front door, because you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and therefore there is not a search.
  2. Best Case Scenario: The Supreme Court could affirm the Florida Supreme Court, and could reverse their own decision in Illinois v. Caballes, and hold that drug sniffs by dogs do implicate the 4th Amendment, and require probable cause.
  3. Acceptable Scenario: Supreme Court could affirm Florida Supreme Court, and limit their holding to drug sniffs of the home require probable cause, or alternatively, refuse to hear the case at all.

(more…)


What to Do if You’re Charged with Manufacture of a Dangerous Drug

If you have been charged with Manufacture of a Dangerous Drug, you’re going to require a skilled Arizona Criminal Law Attorney.

The key to defending Possessing Manufacturing Equipment is demonstrating that you did not “knowingly” possess the equipment (i.e., “Lack of Knowledge”). In other words, if you live in a household with multiple roommates and you were unaware that your roommates were engaging in this type of activity, then this can be a defense to the charge. It will need to be shown that your fingerprints are not on the chemicals or the manufacturing equipment itself. These defenses also apply to Manufacturing of Dangerous Drugs (not just possessing the equipment). Even if a Defendant has knowledge that his roommates are engaging in this type of activity, as long as they do not knowingly participate and facilitate the illegal enterprise, then they are not guilty of Manufacturing Dangerous Drugs, nor are they guilty of Possessing the Manufacturing Equipment. This of course assumes that the equipment is not in their actual bedroom and it was located out in a garage area or other separate location.

Click here to learn more about possible defenses and/or punishment for a Manufacture of a Dangerous Drug charge.

It is important to hire an AV® rated law firm (the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell®). Also, David Michael Cantor is a skilled Arizona Drug Defense Attorney, and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of its Arizona Criminal Law Attorneys are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. At DM Cantor, P.C., the majority of our Lawyers are ex-Prosecutors, and all of our Arizona Criminal Law Attorneys know the system well. For a free initial consultation, call us at 1-888-822-6867, or contact Arizona Criminal Law Attorney David Michael Cantor.


What to Do if You’re Charged with Possession of Marijuana

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or use of marijuana, you’re going to require a skilled Arizona Criminal Lawyer.

The key to defending any “possession” charge is showing that the person did not “knowingly” possess any drugs or paraphernalia (i.e., “Lack of Knowledge”). Many times we can demonstrate that what was found in a person’s vehicle or inside their house or apartment was left behind by somebody else (such as a roommate, or somebody who came over to the house at a much earlier time). As far as defending the use” of such items, we will need to challenge any claims by the Officer of signs and symptoms of drug impairment or whether he could “smell” any drugs in the air. It will be critical to determine not only what you actually said to the Officers, but also what the Officers are claiming you said.

Click here to learn more about possible defenses and/or punishment for possession of marijuana.

It is important to hire an AV® rated law firm (the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell®). Also David Michael Cantor is an Arizona Marijuana Lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of its lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. At DM Cantor, P.C., the majority of our Attorneys are ex-Prosecutors, and all of our Arizona Marijuana Lawyers know the system well. For a free initial consultation, call us at 602-307-0808, or contact Arizona Criminal Lawyer David Michael Cantor.


An Arizona Drug Lawyer Can Gain an Argumentative Advantage with Drug Penalty Discrepancies

If you are in need of an Arizona drug lawyer, you’ll be happy to know that some sense is coming to this nation’s current mindset when it comes to drug laws, but realize that this is a slow dawning realization. In 2007, the US Sentencing Commission lowered the crack cocaine penalty that many argued was racist and draconian in nature. Previously, one gram of crack cocaine received the same penalty as 100 grams of powder cocaine, so that even a small amount meant serious prison time. It’s these sorts of discrepancies that can be used in arguments that may prove useful to your client.

Many critics argued that these were racist guidelines, as crack, being a more affordable drug, was predominantly used by a poorer, African American community, where as cocaine cost a fortune and was limited to the white suburbs. Essentially, both drugs are the same substance, though cocaine users typically can afford a better drug lawyer than their crack smoking counterparts.

While the new laws ease the penalties, they don’t erase the disparity that exists in penalties associated with these drugs. Instead, those convicted of crack possession receive a lower base offense level for each quantity range to the next lowest base offense level. The commission also adjusted the ratio to determine the “marijuana equivalency” for crack cocaine, consulted in any case involving crack and at least another type of drug. Unfortunately, simply lowering this base level created varying ratios between crack and powder cocaine, and crack and marijuana; a challenging dilemma for any drug lawyer.

The wide ranging ratios used by the commission create anomalies that negatively impact the clients of a drug lawyer, often those whose offenses involve a lesser amount of drugs. These anomalies have so far been reviewed and rejected by at least 3 courts. Judges have argued that no rational basis exists for treating similarly guilty individuals so widely different, simply based on the substance for which they were found in possession.

Let’s start with an example. Suppose you are an Arizona drug lawyer, and your client is accountable for 75 grams of crack and 10 grams of powder cocaine. Under the existing conversion guidelines your client would be found under a base offense level for 75 grams of crack, which is level 30. The guidelines than require the court to multiply each gram of crack by 14 grams of marijuana. That adds up to 1,050 kilograms of pot your client is held accountable for. Even before considering the 10 grams of power cocaine, your client has moved up from base offense level 30 to level 32. If your client had only been found guilty of the crack alone, it would take an additional 75 grams of crack to reach level 32.

The client of a drug lawyer is therefore penalized at a higher rate for a lesser amount of crack, simply because the conversion tables apply such an inconsistent ratio between crack and marijuana. This opens up a number of different arguments that can be made.

An Arizona drug lawyer could argue that the guidelines are only advisory. A point could be made that the guidelines are irrelevant because they were designed for cases far more serious. The court should not follow such guidelines without the basis of a full study, backed by empirical data. The court should also dismiss the guidelines based on the poor judgment of the US Sentencing Commission.

About the Author
David Michael Cantor is an AV rated (the highest possible rating) lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about an Arizona drug lawyer, visit our site.


Clients of an Arizona Drug Crimes Lawyer Can Benefit from Drug Rehabilitation Counseling

The client of a drug crimes lawyer in Arizona might well be able to benefit from the Bureau of Prisons Residential Drug Abuse program. While those who underwent treatment originally received no reduced sentencing as a result, the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, among other provisions, allowed the court to provide an up to 1 year sentence reduction for the clients of a drug crime lawyer who completed the now 500 hour drug and alcohol program.

The law also required the BOP to provide treatment to all inmates who were eligible. A provision in 1995 required the client of a drug crimes lawyer to provide documentation of a drug abuse problem to be eligible.

Program’s high demand causes time pressure
Due to the ability to lose 12 months of a sentence, as well as spend 6 months in a half-way house, the program was understandably in high demand. In evaluating eligibility, a clinical interpretation of a drug abuse problem must be made by the BOP. The diagnosis must be made in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Associates Diagnostic and Statistic Manual. This leaves open the possibility that the BOP fails to make a diagnosis, even if substance abuse history has been a part of the past of the client of a drug crimes lawyer in Arizona.

The clinical interview for evaluating eligibility for the program is ordinarily conducted no less than 24 months prior to release. This time is highly significant. Why? The high demand for the program means classes are only available every 2 to 3 months. Even with a court recommendation, there is a possibility that a client of a drug crimes lawyer may spend the last 24 months of their sentence in a facility that doesn’t service such a program. (more…)


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