Possession of Marijuana
Although medical marijuana has been decriminalized throughout Arizona, many individuals in Tempe are still arrested for and charged with marijuana possession. This offense is punishable as a felony offense, no matter the amount of marijuana, and can result in serious punishments, such as jail or prison time, fines, a criminal record, and community service.
Often, law enforcement officers will try to increase the criminal charges and alleged the individuals was in possession of marijuana in order to sell or distribute it. They will try to find any kind of paraphernalia, such as large amounts of cash, scales and storage containers in order to charge the alleged offender with a more serious marijuana crime.
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Tempe, it is important to hire an experienced marijuana defense lawyer in order to help you create your best defense to the allegations your are facing.Tempe Possession of Marijuana Lawyer
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Tempe, or any of the surrounding areas in Arizona, including Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale or East Valley, contact the Law Office of James E. Novak. James Novak is an aggressive marijuana defense lawyer who will make every effort to fight the allegations against you and help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak for a free consultation at (480) 413-1499 about your marijuana possession charges.
According to section 13-3405(A)(1) of the Arizona Revised Statutes, an individual can be charged with possession of marijuana if they knowingly possess or use marijuana.
Marijuana (also known as marihuana, cannabis, weed, hydro, ganja, reefer, chronic, pot and bud) is defined in section 36-2501 of the Arizona Revised Statutes as all parts of the cannabis plant, regardless if it is growing or not. This can include seeds from the cannabis plant; resin extracted from any part of the cannabis plant; any compound of the cannabis plant or its seeds or resin; any manufacture of the cannabis plant or its seeds or resin; any salt from the cannabis plant or its seeds or resin; any derivative of the cannabis plant or its seeds or resin; any mixture of the cannabis plant or its seeds or resin; and/or any preparation of the cannabis plant, its seeds or resin.
However, marijuana does not include the mature stalks of the cannabis plant, fiber produced from the stalks of the cannabis plant, resin from the cannabis stalks, any oil or cake made from the seeds, or any compound, preparation or mixture from the mature stalks or sterilized seeds incapable of germination from the cannabis plant.
In order to convict an alleged offender with a marijuana possession offense in Arizona, the prosecution must prove the alleged offender committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution cannot meet this high burden of proof, the judge or jury will not be able to convict the defendant, and the charges will either be reduced or dismissed. Possession is a required element to a possession of marijuana offense, so the prosecutor must demonstrate the defendant had either actual or constructive possession of the marijuana.
Actual construction is generally defined as having actual, physical control of the marijuana on their body, person or in their possession. An individual can have actual possession if the marijuana is in their pocket, in their wallet, or in their purse.
Constructive possession is generally harder for the prosecution to prove, and is defined by the following three elements:
- If the alleged offender was aware the marijuana was in their present and it was an illegal substance;
- If the alleged offender had the intent to actually possess the marijuana; and
- If the alleged offender was physically able to take control and actual possession of the marijuana.
An example of constructive possession is if a law enforcement officer found marijuana in a vehicle where the alleged offender was a passenger and they were able to access the marijuana.
Marijuana possession penalties in Tempe can vary depending on a number of factors. Chapter 7 of Title 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes lists the sentencing range for marijuana possession penalties. The penalties can range from a minim term of imprisonment to a maximum term, but most first time offender will generally be given the presumptive sentence. The penalties can increase or decrease depending on:
- The quantity of the marijuana;
- Whether the alleged offender has any prior convictions;
- Whether the offense involved a child under the age of 18;
- Whether the offense was aggravated;
- Whether the offense was dangerous or non-dangerous; and/or
- Whether the offense was mitigated.
Possession of marijuana in an amount of less than two pounds is generally punishable as a class 6 felony. Imprisonment for this degree of felony can range from six months to 18 months, but the presumptive sentence is one year.
Possession of marijuana in an amount between two and four pounds is generally punishable as a class 5 felony. Imprisonment for this degree of felony can range from nine months to two years, but the presumptive sentence is 1.5 years.
Possession of marijuana in an amount of four pounds or more is punishable as a class 4 felony. Imprisonment for this degree of felony can range from 18 months to three years, but the presumptive sentence is 2.5 years.
Any individual convicted of a marijuana possession offense is also required to pay a fine of not less than $750, or three times the value of the marijuana involved in the offense, but no more than $150,000. An individual released on probation for a felony marijuana possession offense is also required to submit to drug testing during the term of probation. Additionally, an individual convicted of marijuana possession may face possible community restitution or community service of at least 24 hours.
However, certain marijuana possession offenders may be eligible for deferred adjudication or drug court.
Individuals who have been charged with marijuana possession or possession of marijuana paraphernalia may be eligible for the Maricopa County Drug Court program. This program was established for nonviolent drug and marijuana offenders.
The drug court program includes random drug testing, outpatient counseling, drug monitoring, regularly scheduled court hearings, and a contract that defines the terms and requirements to the program.
Marijuana possession offenders may be eligible to participate in the program if they:
- Have not been charged with any other criminal offense;
- Did not use a dangerous weapon during the commission of the offense;
- Are not actively on supervised probation;
- Do not have any other incidences of violent behavior;
- Have no more than one other felony conviction; and
- Are not currently using methadone.
Anyone who successfully completes the terms and conditions to the program may have their criminal charges dismissed upon completion of the program. However, an individual who violates any of the terms of their program may face criminal prosecution for the possession offense.
Contact the Law Office of James E. Novak today for a consultation about your alleged possession of cannabis offense throughout Maricopa County in Arizona. James Novak is an experienced Tempe marijuana lawyer who will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious penalties and repercussions to your alleged offense. Contact the Law Office of James E. Novak at (480) 413-1499 for a consultation about your alleged marijuana possession throughout Maricopa County in Arizona.