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What Is Considered Drug Trafficking In Arizona?


Drug trafficking is the movement of substantial amounts of drugs, for a monetary profit. It is more of a “mass distribution” than the individual who sells drugs on his own. Trafficking can include the manufacture of drugs (like a meth lab) and usually involves moving the drugs from one state, or even one country to another. A.R.S. 13-3407 defines this offense as Trafficking or Transport for Sale: “Transport for sale, import into this state or offer to transport for sale or import into this state, sell, transfer or offer to sell or transfer a dangerous drug.

Are There Any Laws Addressing Drug Paraphernalia In Arizona?

Just about anything can be considered drug paraphernalia, even the most innocent of items. A baggie can be paraphernalia because the officer could believe that is how you package your drugs. A spoon can be paraphernalia if the officer believes you use it to heat your drugs. A rubber band is paraphernalia if you use it as a tourniquet. If the item can be connected to a way of introducing drugs into the human body, it can be charged as paraphernalia. Whether or not the charge can be proven by the state depends on factors like where the paraphernalia was located, if illegal drugs were nearby, if there were admissions to using the item for drugs, and if there is drug residue on the item.

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a class 6 felony, although it may be charged as a misdemeanor in some city and justice courts. Due to Proposition 200, a first or second-time paraphernalia offense will not result in jail time. You may be placed on probation, which will involve classes and fines, as well as urine tests. If you violate the terms of your probation with another drug charge, then there is the possibility of incarceration.

Can Police Execute A Warrantless Search Of A Premises Or A Vehicle If They Suspect A Drug Offense?

If an officer makes a traffic stop, and smells an odor of marijuana, or sees indicators of drug paraphernalia, or if a drug detector dog “alerts” on the vehicle, the officer may have probable cause to search the vehicle without a warrant. This also includes a search of personal possessions, such as backpacks, purses, and briefcases. These searches can extend to passengers in the vehicle as well as the driver. Officers often do a “search incident to arrest” if there is an arrest for a suspected drug DUI. A ‘inventory” search will be done of the inside of the vehicle if the vehicle is going to be impounded. The basis for this is to limit the liability of the police agency from claims of theft or damage to personal property.

Can A Passenger Face A Drug-Related Charge If Drugs Are Discovered In The Vehicle?

Yes. The most common scenario is when the driver of a vehicle is pulled over for an alleged traffic violation. The officer claims he or she smells marijuana or says there were “furtive” movements by the driver or passenger. Officers use this “furtive movement” term a lot to justify searching a vehicle. They insinuate that your “furtive” movements are due to you hiding some sort of illegal substance. Anything can be construed as a “furtive” movement, even reaching for the glove compartment to get out your registration. If the officer suspects there are drugs in the vehicle, he or she can ask everyone to get out, and then the car will be searched. If drugs are found, whether the passenger will be charged depends on several things. The most important thing is whether anyone admits that the drugs belong to them. If no one steps up, then the officer is going to charge everyone with possession.

Another factor is where the drugs are located. If they are in a locked glove compartment, or in the trunk, it is more than likely that the passenger will not be held responsible. However, if they are found in the center console, or under the passenger’s seat, the passenger can be charged as well. This goes back to the idea of “: constructive possession”, that although the drugs are not actually found on your person, they are found in a close enough area that you can have control over them.

What Is The General Timeline Of A Drug-Related Case In Your State?

The time period from arrest or summons to resolution of a drug case can vary depending on the severity of the charges. Some drug offenses can be resolved in Early Disposition Court. This court is primarily for first or second offenders and deals with less serious drug charges. Cases that are eligible for Early Disposition Court are usually resolved much more quickly than cases that go through regular felony procedures. For all felony charges, there will be an initial appearance/arraignment, and enter a plea of not guilty. The case will then be set for an initial pretrial conference. By this time, you will most likely have the police report documenting the evidence that the state has against you, as well as laboratory reports confirming the existence and amounts of the drugs involved.

The State will make a plea offer, which can range from pleading to the charge, to an amended, reduced charge with a lower penalty. You can accept the plea offer at that time, or the matter can be set to a comprehensive pretrial conference to allow for further investigation and negotiations. Motions may be filed if there are potential legal issues in your case, and the case will be set for trial. The motions are generally argued prior to the trial date, and depending on the outcome, the charges may be reduced or dismissed. If the motions are not successful, sometimes the plea offer will still be available, or there is the option of going to trial. This process can last from thirty days to up to six months or more, depending on the complexity of the issues in the case.

For more information on Drug Trafficking In Arizona, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (623) 428-8203 today.

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