While some states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, under Arizona law, possession of any amount of marijuana is considered to be a felony. This means that an Arizona marijuana conviction can lead to the loss of the right to vote, the loss of the right to own a firearm, and disqualification from many types of employment. This is in stark contrast to most states where marijuana is still illegal but charges are classified only as civil violations no different than traffic tickets or as minor misdemeanors.
Under Arizona law, the criminal penalties for marijuana charges range from incarceration of 6 to 18 months and a fine up to $150,000 for possession of less than 2 pounds of marijuana to prison sentences of up to 10 years along with a $150,000 fine for the sale, delivery, or possession for sale of 4 or more pounds of marijuana. Fortunately for those charged with possession of recreational amounts of marijuana, local prosecutors rarely push for these penalties.
In minor possession cases, the prosecutor will usually allow the accused to complete a pretrial diversion program. This program typically includes substance abuse education and is usually conditional on not committing additional crimes, not using drugs or alcohol, not skipping any required meetings or classes, and showing up for all court appearances. Successful completion of the program will usually result in the dismissal of the charges and avoiding a criminal record.
Arizona has legalized the use of medical marijuana with strict requirements. Users must be registered, are limited in the amount of marijuana they can receive (2.5 ounces within 14 days), and may only receive marijuana from a registered dispensary unless they have special permission to grow their own. As with other marijuana offenses, violations of any of these prohibitions are felonies under Arizona law.
Marijuana defenses can be divided into two general categories. Factual defenses argue that the elements of the crime were not met. A typical example would be police finding marijuana in a car and arresting all of the occupants. Each occupant might argue that the marijuana wasn’t in their possession or control. Legal defenses argue that the charges must be dismissed regardless of factual guilt because the police didn’t follow the law. Typically, this would be a constitutional violation such as a police officer conducting an illegal search that led to them finding the marijuana.
The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Schill Law Group are here to help you determine what defenses you may have available and to fight for your rights in court. When you come to our firm, you will work with one attorney from start to finish so you can be sure the person fighting for your freedom understands your case inside and out and has explored every possible angle. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and begin your defense.