Arizona law specifically prohibits an individual from possessing, manufacturing, delivering, or advertising drug paraphernalia. When someone intends to use or use an object to package, consume, or manufacture illegal drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia occurs. The law goes on to further explain that it is illegal to advertise (as in a published magazine, newspaper, or other publication) items for sale that are reasonably understood to be drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia charges are often charged along with possession of illegal drugs.
If you’ve been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in Arizona, it’s important that you understand your rights, possible defense options, and the potential sentence if you are found guilty. It is also vital that you consult with a local drug defense lawyer like those at Ryan Garvey Attorneys, who will represent your interests throughout the complex legal process you’ll be facing. Our award-winning attorneys have experience in criminal defense cases like yours and have represented countless clients accused of Phoenix drug crimes. Our aggressive approach yields positive results, and we are dedicated to defending our clients’ rights, no matter what they are charged with.
In Arizona, possession of drug paraphernalia is unlawful and can result in arrest, jail time, fines, and other detrimental consequences. You can get a possession of drug paraphernalia charge if you are found with any kind of product, device, or equipment that is known to be used for smoking, injecting, or creating an illegal drug. For example, if you’re caught by the police with a marijuana pipe or bong (especially if there is residue in the pipe), you will likely be charged with possession of paraphernalia.
Drug paraphernalia is defined by Arizona as any products, materials, or equipment used, intended to be used, or designed for use with:
Thus, nearly anything can fall under Arizona’s definition of drug paraphernalia if it is associated with the use of or found with illegal drugs because it is such a broad classification. Specific items that are commonly found in connection with drug charges and are typically considered to be drug paraphernalia include:
In determining whether an item was intended for drug use or was just an everyday item, an Arizona judge will consider:
It will also be considered if there was residue or drugs found on the item, as well as whether the owner of the item has been convicted of drugs in the past.
If you are found in possession of any kind of drug paraphernalia in Arizona, it is automatically considered a Class 6 felony. However, there are two important clauses to this law. First, any Class 6 felony charge can alternatively be reduced to a Class 1 misdemeanor at the judge’s discretion. This is a less severe charge in terms of punishment and criminal records. Second, under Proposition 200, any non-violent, first- or second-time offender of possession of paraphernalia cannot be sentenced to jail time or prison time as a result of a conviction on this charge alone. More than likely, if this is your first or second charge and you do get convicted, you will end up paying fines and penalties. You will also be placed on probation and/or be required to attend a mandatory diversion program. If you violate your probation in any way, you can spend as much as a month in jail.
While possession of drug paraphernalia is a felony charge, it is also worth noting that those who seek proper legal representation rarely end up with a felony conviction on this charge. More often, the charge is pled down to a misdemeanor, or the defendant is allowed to attend a Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC). This is a Deferred Prosecution Program offered by the state of Arizona. This program allows those who have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia to complete a drug and alcohol abuse class in exchange for a total dismissal of their charge. As part of this program, defendants still end up paying significant fees and are subject to one random urine test per month until completion (which usually takes three to six months total), but they walk away with a clean slate.
A third conviction is more serious. If you are facing your third drug paraphernalia charge and have two prior convictions, you could be facing up to six years in prison. Furthermore, anyone charged with an AZ felony could be fined up to $150,000.
Another factor that can affect your possession case is whether you are being charged by a city or a county prosecutor. A city prosecutor’s office can only prosecute misdemeanors, so you cannot be charged with a felony in city court. A county prosecutor’s office in AZ can charge both felonies and misdemeanors, but they usually charge defendants with felonies.
If you are arrested for a drug crime in Arizona, remember, you have the right to remain silent. Anyone arrested in the United States should exercise their Fifth Amendment right according to the U.S. Constitution. Do, however, be polite and respectful. Afterward, take notes of the incident and call an attorney as soon as you can. The sooner you share your account of the events with your lawyer, the more details you will remember. Do not share details or discuss the case on social media and ask that your family or close friends not discuss the case with others either. As the defendant, you should stay off social media altogether and stay out of trouble in general. Another arrest will not help your case.
You should also not discuss your case with law enforcement at all until you have an attorney present. Law enforcement officers are skilled in making you say the wrong thing to incriminate yourself. It’s smartest to not engage in lengthy conversations or answer any questions without an attorney. The following is a list of things not to do after your arrest. They may be obvious, but they should be taken seriously, nonetheless:
Aside from pleading your charge down to a misdemeanor or TASC resolution, keep in mind that there are also legitimate defenses for possession of drug paraphernalia charges. One of the most common defenses is that the drug paraphernalia was not actually being used to ingest or otherwise interact with any illegal drugs. For example, plenty of people use pipes to smoke legal substances, such as tobacco. Another potential defense would be a “lack of knowledge” defense, which would make the claim that the person charged was not aware of the drug paraphernalia on his or her person, or in his or her possession (such as in a car). This is a common defense in situations where there may have been multiple people in a car or house.
Other defense strategies often used in these cases involve the improper handling of the arrest by law enforcement. Many times, they search a person’s property without a warrant, have no physical evidence to back up the charges, or violate some other right while investigating or arresting defendants. The most effective defense strategy can be determined by the most experienced drug crime defense attorneys who have a thorough understanding of the law and can apply it precisely to your case. These attorneys have been through cases like yours already and know the ideal defenses to use to optimize the outcome of your case significantly.
If you’ve been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, your first step should be to consult with an experienced drug defense attorney. By doing so, you can receive sound legal guidance and get a better idea as to what your next steps should be. Having an attorney on your side is the smartest decision you can make for your case and for your future. To set up a consultation with an experienced attorney, contact our legal team at Ryan Garvey Attorneys today: 602-296-3434.
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