Possession of Dangerous Drugs

Phoenix Lawyer for Narcotics Offenses

Arizona has harsh laws that penalize drug crimes. If you’re arrested and ultimately convicted of a drug crime, you will almost certainly face stiff penalties. There are, however, different categories of crimes. In Arizona, drug crimes may involve marijuana, narcotics, or dangerous drugs. If you have been charged with possession of dangerous drugs, an experienced Phoenix drug crime attorney can help you assess your legal options.

Possession of Dangerous Drugs

You can be charged with possessing dangerous drugs under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section 13-3407(A)(1). Possession may be actual or constructive. Actual possession can be shown if you had the dangerous drugs on your person during a lawful search. Constructive possession is shown if the prosecutor can prove you exercised dominion and control over the dangerous drugs, or over the place where the dangerous drugs were found.

The penalties you will face if convicted hinge on the kind of drug involved, and there are harsher punishments for possession of dangerous drugs than for possession of other drugs. Under A.R.S. section 13-3401, dangerous drugs include all street drugs besides marijuana. If you’re found with illegal drugs, the police will categorize the drugs, and the prosecutor’s charges will be based on that categorization. Dangerous drugs include LSD, methamphetamines, steroids, acid, mescaline, psilocybin mushrooms, ecstasy, Klonopin, and others. They are often multi-part, meaning they are made of a combination of hallucinogens, cannabimimetic substances, N-methyltryptamine mimetic substances, anabolic steroids, phencyclidine mimetic substances, substances that stimulate the central nervous system, and substances that depress the central nervous system.


Under A.R.S. section 13-3407, possession or use of a dangerous drug is a Class 4 felony. However, if you’re charged with possession of dangerous drugs and it’s a first offense, it’s likely that the charges will be reduced to Class 1 misdemeanor charges. When the drug is involved is LSD, amphetamine, methamphetamine, or phencyclidine, or if you were previously convicted of a felony offense, the court has the authority to enter a judgment of conviction for a Class 1 misdemeanor and make a disposition accordingly, or put a defendant on probation in accord with the law and keep from designating the crime as a misdemeanor or felony until probation ends. However, it will be treated as a felony for all purposes until the judge issues an order designating it as a misdemeanor.

A Class 1 misdemeanor charge may be punished by up to 6 months of jail time and $2500 in fines. As a first time offender, you may be given the chance to complete the Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC) diversion program rather than go to jail. The emphasis will be on your rehabilitation rather than your incarceration.

You will face more serious charges if you are alleged to have had dangerous drugs for sale than to have simply possessed them for you own use. Possession of drugs for sale is a Class 2 felony. Prosecutors may look at what the drugs were found with to secure a conviction for possession for sale. For example, they may look at the amount of drugs found, how they were packaged, the presence of ledgers or scales in building a case against you.


You should not assume that a conviction is assured if you are charged with possession of dangerous drugs. Your defense attorney may be able to develop a strong defense on your behalf. For example, if you are being charged with constructive possession rather than actual possession of dangerous drugs, you may be able to show that you didn’t exercise dominion over them. Further, sometimes dangerous drugs are found as a result of an unlawful search by police. When police search your house, they usually need a warrant. If they didn’t have one and none of the exceptions to the warrant rule apply, it may be appropriate to file a motion to suppress any evidence that resulted from the illegal search.

Retain a Skilled Drug Crime Attorney in Phoenix

If you have been charged with possession of dangerous drugs in Phoenix, you may face stiff penalties. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you strategize as to how to defend yourself. Mr. Novak represents defendants charged with drug crimes throughout the Phoenix area, including in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact him via our online form.

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