Drug Trafficking: An Overview of the Arizona Revised Statutes that Define the Crimes, Sentencing, and More

In the state of Arizona, drug trafficking is a broadly used term describing criminal drug charges associated with the importation, transportation, and/or selling of dangerous or narcotic drugs. As such, the prosecution in each case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly transported, imported, or sold dangerous drugs and that those drugs were, in fact, narcotic in nature. 

What’s more, in the crime of drug trafficking as it pertains to the host of statutes that define it in Arizona, the prosecution must be able to prove that if you were found importing or transporting narcotic drugs, that you did so on purpose and with the intent to sell the narcotic drugs you were found to have transported or imported into the state of Arizona. 

You cannot usually be charged with drug trafficking in Arizona if the quantity of narcotics found is below a specific threshold, which is different for each drug.

In other words, the larger the amount of drugs found when arrested, the more likely the prosecution will be to attempt to charge you with drug trafficking, a charge which is most often linked to quantities that meet or exceed the threshold amount. 

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What are the Threshold Amounts for Drug Trafficking in Arizona: ARS 13-3401.36 

Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-3401.36, the threshold amounts for narcotic drug trafficking charges in Arizona are as follows:

  • 2 pounds of cannabis (marijuana) 
  • 9 grams of methamphetamine, including methamphetamine in any form of a liquid suspension 
  • 9 grams of amphetamine, including amphetamine in any form of a liquid suspension 
  • 9 grams of cocaine, in powder or rock form, 1 gram of heroin 
  • 50 millimeters or 4 grams of PCP

Arrested for Drug Trafficking Narcotics in Arizona

The Three Statutory Definitions of Drug Trafficking in Accordance with ARS 13-3407

According to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-3407, drug trafficking can also be broken down into three distinct legal categories: the delivery, sale, and transfer of narcotic or dangerous drugs

Delivery of dangerous or narcotic drugs: The successful act of, or the attempted act of exchanging narcotics from one individual to another, regardless of whether these two individuals know one another or not, or there is what is called an “agency relationship.” 

Sale of dangerous or narcotic drugs: The exchange of dangerous or narcotic drugs for anything of any monetary value, or anything that would give the receiving party any advantage, or the promise or likelihood of financial gain 

Transfer of dangerous or narcotic drugs: To deliver, give away, or in any way furnish narcotic or dangerous drugs to any individual, whether or not there is any relationship between the two individuals

Determining Whether the Trafficked Substance Was a Narcotic, Dangerous, or Some Other Substance

Importantly, to determine if the drugs found being trafficked were narcotic or dangerous in nature, they will have to be tested in a professional laboratory by a forensic scientist.

Furthermore, that same forensic scientist — and not any other expert or “stand-in” — must testify in court, outlining in detail what his or her findings were with regard to the recovered drugs (or, in some cases, some other substance), and give his or her expert analysis and opinion as to whether or not the recovered substance(s) were dangerous and/or narcotic drugs.

Penalties for trafficking drugs in Arizona

Penalties and Sentencing for Drug Trafficking in Arizona: 

The trafficking of different drugs carries different penalties and sentencing, as does the consideration of whether or not the amount of dangerous or narcotic drugs was found to be at or above the statutory threshold limit. 

In the most basic sense, some of the most common sentencing guidelines for drug trafficking in the state of Arizona are as follows: 

If a felony drug trafficking charge brought against the defendant was considered nonviolent or such that it did not include methamphetamine or was not also part of a larger crime that involved danger or violence, probation might be considered by the criminal court judge, but never when the drug(s) trafficked included methamphetamine. 

Otherwise, sentencing for drug trafficking for first-time offenders in Arizona is based on felony class as follows: 

  • Class 6 felony for drug trafficking: minimum of 6 months in prison 
  • Class 4 felony for drug trafficking: minimum of 18 months in prison 
  • Class 2 felony: minimum of 4 years in prison

For first-time offenders with no prior felony convictions on their record but whose trafficking of drugs included methamphetamine, or as part of the commission of any other dangerous crime, drug trafficking falls into three different felony categories: 

  • Class 6 felony drug trafficking: minimum of 1 year in prison 
  • Class 4 felony drug trafficking: minimum of 4 years in prison 
  • Class 2 felony drug trafficking: minimum of 7 years in prison

For repeat offenders of dangerous, violent, or other crimes involving dangerous drugs and/or those who have three or more felony convictions (during the commission of three or more separate crimes, not from the same event), sentencing for drug trafficking in Arizona is as follows: 

  • Class 6 felony for drug trafficking: 1 year minimum prison sentence 
  • Class 4 felony for drug trafficking: 3 year minimum prison sentence 
  • Class 2 felony for drug trafficking: 6 year minimum prison sentence

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An Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney Who Aggressively Defends Drug Trafficking Charges

Drug Sales and Distribution Defense Attorney in Phoenix

When it comes to charges associated with drug trafficking in the state of Arizona, there are a wide variety of defenses that can be successfully implemented during the trial to get your charges dramatically reduced or even dropped entirely based on a number of factors and extenuating circumstances. 

Lack of knowledge of the illicit drugs, a lack of probable cause, or even illegal search and seizure are just some of the legal defenses that can be used to aggressively fight and win your drug trafficking case. 

At the Law Office of Daniel Hutto, we know that being charged with criminal offenses like these can be extremely frightening for you and those who care about you. We want to hear all about what happened and get to know the person you really are — not who the courts say you are. Your best chance at fighting drug trafficking charges in Phoenix is to begin preparing a well-thought-out defense as soon as possible. That process begins with you getting in touch with one of our Phoenix criminal defense lawyers specializing in drug trafficking charges during our no-cost legal consultation. During this call or appointment, we’ll get to the bottom of what really happened and start investigating the facts of your case right away. Get started today by dialing 602.536.7878.

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