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How Does Arizona Distinguish Between Drug Dealers and Drug Users?

Illegal substance abuse exists everywhere in the United States, Arizona included. Thousands of Arizona residents struggle with drug addiction every day, which leads to serious legal issues. Arizonian substance-abusers can face jail time, heavy fines, probation, revocation of driver’s licenses and more. Anyone facing legal issues due to drug-related crimes should contact an experienced Scottsdale drug crimes attorney today.

Drug Dealing Versus Drug Possession in Scottsdale

The state of Arizona divides drug charges based on the type of drugs involved and the intended use of those drugs. If a person’s intention is to use the drug for recreational use, the courts see the crime as less harmful than the transportation, trafficking, or sale of drugs. Drug dealing and trafficking charges incur more severe consequences than drug possession.

Common drug charges an Arizona resident can face include possession of:

  • Marijuana for personal and recreational use.
  • Marijuana with intent to sell.
  • Narcotic drugs, such as heroin, crack, and cocaine.
  • Narcotic drugs with intent to sell.
  • Dangerous drugs, such as LSD, acid, mushrooms, and ecstasy.
  • Dangerous drugs with intent to sell.
  • Drug paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs, and other objects used to conceal, carry, or use an illegal drug.
  • A false prescription for addictive pharmaceutical drugs, such as OxyContin.

As shown above, drug charges are different if a person intends to sell a drug versus use it. Often, drug dealers are the source of larger drug operations, and the punishments they face are higher due to the economic profit and potential consequences of their businesses. People who use drugs may have a rehabilitation requirement attached to a possession conviction.

Arizona Drug Trafficking Laws

A difference exists between a drug dealer and a drug trafficker. A low-level drug dealer who sells the product to his or her local community is likely to face a lesser sentence than a drug trafficker. The courts associate cartels or larger drug rings that smuggle products across state and country borders with drug traffickers.

Arizona uses a drug threshold amount to determine if a person in possession of a drug is intending to sell. If a police officer finds someone with the following amounts or more of certain drugs, that person may face the intent to sell charges:

  • 2 pounds of marijuana
  • 9 grams of cocaine
  • 4 grams of PCP
  • 9 grams of methamphetamine, including liquid methamphetamine
  • 1 gram of heroin
  • 9 grams of amphetamine, including liquid amphetamine

If a person possesses the amount of a drug necessary to cross the drug threshold and law enforcement believes that person intends to sell, law enforcement will investigate for drug trafficking charges. Arizona law enforcement uses the following criteria to assess if someone is trafficking a drug:

  • That, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant knowingly sold, transported, or imported drugs.
  • That the drug in question is a narcotic, such as meth, heroin, crack, and cocaine.

Consequences of Drug Dealing or Trafficking Charges

Drug trafficking charges range from a Class 6 felony to a Class 2 felony. The conviction’s severity increases based on the type of drug involved, the number of previous convictions, and the number of drugs in possession. Potential consequences for drug trafficking charges include:

  • Class 6: Six months to one year in prison
  • Class 4: 18 months to four years in prison
  • Class 2: Four years to seven years in prison

For drug dealing offenses, the court determines the punishment based on the type of drug, amount, and number of previous offenses. Sentences range from no prison time for first-offense, non-violent marijuana dealers to 15 years for a narcotic conviction with priors, with fines and probation attached to all punishments.

A person who faces drug dealing or drug trafficking charges needs a skilled and experienced Scottsdale defense lawyer by his or her side.