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Drug Crimes Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ

Have you been arrested for possession or dealing drugs? The drug laws in Arizona are complex, and penalties can be harsh. At Castañeda Law, we understand drug charges, the defenses that exist, and the laws that could provide you with a dismissal or a reduced charge. We will use that knowledge to insure your rights are protected. Call us to schedule a free consultation.

The specifics of a drug charge, and the potential consequences of a conviction, are the function of several factors. Those factors include, among others, (a) the particular drug involved, (b) the amount of the drug, (c) the conduct allegedly engaged in, (d) your prior criminal history, (e) where the crime took place, and (f) the age of any other participants. All these issues must be considered in evaluating your drug case, and preparing an intelligent strategy for your defense.

Marijuana Cases

Marijuana is treated differently in some respects that other illegal drugs. This is due, at least in part, to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which legalizes the use of marijuana by those possessing a valid identification card. Without a medical marijuana card, possession of marijuana is a crime. The Medical Marijuana Act may also provide the basis for a possible defense in a DUI marijuana case, although it does not prevent being charged with DUI if you are under the influence of marijuana.

But marijuana remains illegal absent a valid medical marijuana card. And possession of even a small amount of pot is a felony.

Prescription-Only Drugs

A prescription-only drug is generally any drug which requires the supervision of a medical practitioner, or which under federal law requires a label prohibiting dispensing without a prescription. Possession or use of a prescription drug without a valid prescription is generally a class 1 misdemeanor. Selling or transferring (or offering to sell or transfer) a prescription-only drug is a felony. Other possible violations of the laws governing prescription drugs are administering the drug to a person not legally entitled to possess or use it; or illegally manufacturing, selling, transporting or importing a prescription-only drug. In addition, prescription drug cases are often accompanied by related charges, such as forgery.

In many cases, prescription drug abuse begins innocently and legally, through a valid prescription provided by your doctor. The use of pills and other drugs can eventually spin out of control, as addiction takes hold. In a short period of time, you may find that you have lost the power of choice when it comes to the use of these medications. While addiction is not a defense to a drug charge, it can be used in some cases to affect the availability of alternative sentencing, or the severity of any penalty.


The list of narcotic drugs is contained in A.R.S. 13-340, and it is extensive. There are dozens of substances listed. Some or the more commonly used narcotics are:

  • Cocaine.

  • Oxycodone.

  • OxyContin.

  • Percocet.

  • Fentanyl.

  • Heroin.

  • Opium.

  • Morphine.

Possession of cocaine, crack or other narcotics is a class 4 felony. Possession for sale, manufacturing, administering, obtaining narcotics by fraud, transporting or importing narcotics is a class 2 felony.

Dangerous Drugs

Another category of controlled substances in Arizona is “dangerous drugs.” This includes hundreds of substances, among them

  • Mescaline.

  • Ecstasy.

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin).

  • Methamphetamine.

  • LSD.

  • GHB (a “date rape” drug).

Possession and other charges involving dangerous drugs are felonies.


Meth is treated differently in certain respects than some other drugs in the same general category. For one thing, the penalties in meth cases are very harsh. Even the classification of some drug offenses are higher for meth than for other drugs. For example, possession of chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of a dangerous drug is a class 3 felony. If the drug is meth, however, it is a class 2 felony. Possession of meth for sale, manufacturing meth, and selling or transporting meth carries a presumptive sentence of 10 years for a first offense, and the defendant is ordinarily not eligible for a suspended sentence or probation. Finally, in the case of possession or use of many illegal drugs, probation is available under Prop 200. Meth is specifically excluded from the “probation only” law.

Penalties and Sentencing for Drug Possession

In fact, possession of most illegal drugs is a felony in Arizona. Nevertheless, there are alternatives that may be available to you if you have been arrested on a drug charge. In some cases, deferred prosecution may be available. This could allow you to attend a treatment program, and undergo random drug testing, while your case will remain inactive. If you successfully complete all the requirements, the charges will be dropped. In other cases, you may be entitled to be sentenced to probation. But there are exceptions to these rules, and the availability of drug court and other options may depend upon your prior criminal history, the particular drug involved, and other factors.
In more serious drug possession cases, the amount of drug alleged possessed will often determine the classification of the charge, and the potential penalty.

Defending Drug Crimes in Arizona

The drug laws in Arizona are complicated. The charge, and the potential penalty, are a function of many variables. There are special rules for certain drugs, deferred prosecution that may or may not be available, and probation which could well be mandatory, thereby avoiding a jail or prison sentence. If you are facing any drug charge, you need an experienced Phoenix drug crimes lawyer who can protect your rights and take advantage of any and all defenses and alternatives available to you.

At Castañeda Law, we know the law and we know the system. We also understand that many drug crimes are the product of drug addiction. Finally, we are aware that some drug crimes are the result of youthful mistakes.

Whatever drug crime you are facing, our attorneys will explain to you where you stand, in language you can understand. We will take the mystery out of your case. We will analyze the facts, and provide you with a defense strategy that makes sense in light of all the circumstances. And we will work tirelessly to ensure that your defense is second to none. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

Call us at (602) 251-3132 for a free consultation

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