Drug possession charges often carry stiff penalties. Even being in possession of another person’s prescription drugs can result in felony charges. In Arizona, the penalty for drug possession depends on the type and amount of the drug found on a person as well as the individuals past criminal history. An experienced criminal defense attorney can mount several defenses to Below are some common charges that can result from being in possession of prescription drugs:
Potential charges relating to possession of a prescription-only drug in Arizona
Unlawful possession of a prescription-only drug
Individuals may be convicted of unlawful possession of a prescription-only drug when they knowingly possess prescription-only drugs belonging to another person, including friends and family members. In order to be convicted of unlawful drug possession, the state must prove both that the accused knowingly possessed the drug and that the accused knew that the drug was a prescription-only drug.
The penalties for possessing a prescription-only drug are relatively mild compared to other drug charges. Unlawfully possessing a prescription-only drug is a misdemeanor and carries with it a sentence up to six months in jail, potentially up to $4,575 in fines and penalties, and three years on probation.
Possession or use of a dangerous drug
“Dangerous drugs” are defined as any narcotic other than marijuana and include certain prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin and benzodiazapines. Although the elements of the crime are similar to the unlawful prescription-only drugs, possession or use of a dangerous drug carries with it a much more stringent penalty. The crime is a class 4 felony and is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, depending on the defendant’s prior criminal history.
Judges have the authority to sentence defendants convicted of dangerous drug possession as a class 1 misdemeanor. Further, pursuant to Proposition 200, defendants who are first or second-time drug offenders can only be sentenced to probation, in a addition to drug treatment, community service and fines. Although defendants may be sentenced for short jail stays for up to 2 weeks for probation violations, the judge must reinstate probation upon completion of jail time.
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