Cocaine is considered a dangerous narcotic, and it is illegal to possess it in Arizona. If you are caught with cocaine and charged with cocaine possession, you face the possibility of time in prison, fines, and the social stigma associated with a criminal record. It may be difficult to find a job or housing, secure a professional license, or go to a particular school. James Novak is an experienced Phoenix cocaine possession lawyer and former prosecutor who understands the different strategies available to defend drug crimes, and he can determine a strategy that is likely to apply to your case.Cocaine Possession Charges in Arizona
Possession of cocaine is prohibited under Arizona Revised Statute section 13-3408. Possession means that you are in possession and that you exercised control over the cocaine, or you had the ability to control the cocaine. The weight of the cocaine affects the charges. If you possess less than nine grams of cocaine, it is a class 4 felony. The presumptive prison term for a class 4 felony is 2½ years, and the aggravated term is three years and nine months.
However, if you possess a threshold amount of cocaine, you may be convicted of possession with the intent to sell it. The threshold amount of powder cocaine is nine grams. Any more than this, and you face the serious charge of cocaine possession with intent to sell. The threshold amount of rock cocaine is 750 mg. The prosecutor does not need to prove your actual intent to sell the cocaine; what matters is the amount that you have. This is a class 2 felony, and if convicted, you face a sentence of imprisonment for 3-10 years as a first offender. The time in prison increases if you are a repeat offender or if the possession occurred in a school zone.
You should not assume the worst when you are charged with cocaine possession. However, it is important to retain an experienced cocaine possession attorney in the Phoenix area as soon as possible. There are multiple defense strategies that may be successful.
One route is to fight the charges by attacking the way that the evidence was obtained. In drug cases, if evidence of drugs was obtained only by violating your constitutional rights, it may be possible to get the evidence suppressed. For example, if you were pulled over by a cop who had a hunch that something was wrong but could not articulate the basis for it, and the cop found cocaine in an ensuing search of your car, it may be possible to get the evidence of cocaine suppressed. Since all of the elements of a crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, getting evidence of a drug suppressed can destroy a prosecutor's drug crime case.
In other cases, it may be possible for a Phoenix cocaine possession attorney to argue that you did not knowingly possess the cocaine—that you had it unwittingly. In Arizona, the prosecution must prove that you were knowingly in possession of cocaine, and sometimes they are not able to prove this because your version of what happened is plausible. For example, it may be possible to argue that the cocaine was found in a common area shared by your roommates. For another example, perhaps you borrowed a car, and the cocaine was already in it, or perhaps the cocaine was your passenger's rather than yours. Other possible defenses include police entrapment and violations in protocol, such as breaches in the chain of custody of the evidence.
In other cases, we may have options for drug court or other forms of diversion. For example, you may be eligible for deferred prosecution if you have never been charged with a drug crime before. Or for another example, a first offender may be able to complete a drug treatment program and be rehabilitated, rather than being sent to jail or prison.Retain a Cocaine Possession Lawyer in Phoenix or Surrounding Cities
Cocaine possession is punished harshly in Arizona. A criminal record can result in significant burdens for the rest of your life. You should retain an experienced and tenacious litigator to mount a defense on your behalf. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form. He represents defendants throughout the Phoenix area, including in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and other cities in Maricopa County.