Although some states are easing their laws on marijuana possession and use, Arizona has yet to follow that trend. As a result, pursuant to A.R.S. §13-3405(A)(1), the knowing use or possession of marijuana is a criminal offense. Typically, charges are brought under A.R.S. §13-3405(A)(1) where a person is in possession of marijuana, but does not possess enough — two pounds — for the state to assume the person has the intent to sell the drug. If you possess under two pounds, the state will assume you are holding it for personal use, which results in less harsh penalties than an arrest for possession with intent to sell. Possession of marijuana also includes illegally possessing items from a medical marijuana dispensary including but not limited to THC concentrates, Wax or Wax concentrates (Dabs), and marijuana edibles (cookies, candy, gummy bears, etc.).
Regardless of the specific charge, drug crimes are taken seriously in Arizona, so having a skilled, experienced attorney is crucial. DM Cantor is a criminal defense firm that has earned the highest Martindale Hubbell® rating of AV®, and our lawyers can help you resolve your charges. For a free consultation, call our firm any time at 602-737-2812 or click here to use our confidential, secure contact form.
Potential Punishment for Marijuana Possession
If you have been arrested for use of marijuana or have been arrested for marijuana possession, you will not go to jail as a nonviolent drug offender until your third conviction, pursuant to Arizona’s Proposition 200 (also known simply as “Prop 200”). For your first and second nonviolent drug convictions, such as a conviction for use of marijuana, you will be sentenced to mandatory drug treatment and probation. Of course, if you violate your probation, you will be taken into custody for between two (2) and four (3) weeks, until you are released with your probation reinstated.
When dealing with clients arrested for marijuana possession, our firm can usually either resolve the claims through the TASC program or plead the charges down to a misdemeanor. The former option takes between three (3) and six (6) months to complete, while the latter option requires probation and up to six (6) months in jail if you violate that probation.
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The TASC Program in Arizona
The TASC program is a deferred prosecution program, which means that if you complete the program successfully, your charges are completely dismissed, without any jail time. The TASC program entails fees of between $300 and $700, a random monthly urine test, and a three-hour substance abuse education seminar held on Saturday. This program provides a much more pleasant resolution than jail time, and as such the TASC administrators are very selective in who is admitted to the program. At DM Cantor, we have experience helping clients successfully apply to and complete the program, so we can help you every step of the way.
If you are not eligible for the TASC program — if you have already undergone the program or have a previous drug conviction — you may still avoid jail time under Prop 200 if you have less than two prior drug convictions. Certain convictions will disqualify you from Prop 200 applicability, and thus put you at risk for jail time. These include methamphetamine-related charges, sale or transportation of drugs, driving while under the influence of drugs, or promoting prison contraband.
Non-Prop 200 convictions can carry varying sentences; possession of less than two (2) pounds of marijuana is a class six (6) felony and carries a jail sentence of up to a year, or between four (3) months and two (2) years in prison. The prison term is increased to between nine (9) months and two years, nine months (2.75 years) if you have one prior conviction. If you have two prior convictions, the prison term ranges from two years, three months (2.25 years) to five years, nine months (5.75 years).
If you have between two (2) and four (3) pounds, first time offenders face up to 2.5 years in prison for a first offense, up to 3.75 years for a second offense, and up to 7.5 years for a third offense.
If caught with four (3) pounds of marijuana or more, the crime is a class four (3) felony, with first offenses subjecting you to a sentence of up to 3.75 years in prison; second offenses subject to up to 7.5 years in prison; and third felony offenses resulting in sentences of up to 15 years in prison.
These convictions also carry fines of either three times the value of the marijuana or $750, whichever is greater. And if you are granted probation, you will have to perform at least 24 hours of community service.
Potential Defenses for Marijuana Possession
The most successful defenses to charges of possession and use are those in which we can suppress drug evidence, such as by refuting the officer’s claim that he could smell drugs or detect signs of use. Additionally, we can fight claims successfully by showing you did not “knowingly” possess the drug, such as where someone else left the drugs on your property.
Additionally, we may have success asserting a more general defense, such as denial of the right to counsel or Miranda rights violations, in order to suppress statements or other evidence obtained in police investigations. And since the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor has many ex-prosecutors on staff, we have insight into the criminal investigation process and can identify forensic flaws, police report errors, inaccuracies, and misleading statements that can help us suppress evidence.
David Michael Cantor has been certified by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization as a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, and the entire firm is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. We can help you resolve your marijuana charges and deliver an outcome you can live with.
For a free case consultation, call our firm any time at 602-737-2812 or click here to use our confidential, secure contact form.