Drugs and Drug-Related Paraphernalia under Arizona Law

People who possess drugs and drug-related paraphernalia in Arizona face several types of charges. There are charges for the possession of marijuana, the possession of dangerous drugs and the possession/use of drug-related paraphernalia among others. What classifies as drug-related paraphernalia under Arizona law and what would the consequences be for either possessing or using such?

How is Drug-Related Paraphernalia Defined?

In Arizona, paraphernalia is a term that refers to all equipment, materials, products and accessories used or designed for the purpose of cultivating, growing, planting, propagating, manufacturing, converting, producing, processing, testing, storing, packaging and utilizing drugs. These are just a couple of the most prominent uses of paraphernalia. The full range can be seen in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3415.

In essence, paraphernalia is anything needed for the growing, production, distribution and use of illegal drugs.

Paraphernalia could be an instrument, a smoking pipe or even a spoon (as long as there’s sufficient evidence of a connection to a drug-related activity). The context and the proximity of the item itself to other objects could turn it in drug-related paraphernalia.

Usually, the possession of drug paraphernalia will be coupled with other charges – for the possession, use or distribution of drugs. Depending on the specifics of the situation and the aggravating circumstances, a person may face serious sanctions.

Drug Paraphernalia, Criminal Charges and Sanctions

The possession of paraphernalia under Arizona law, could lead to either felony or misdemeanor charges.

Whenever the charge is processed by a municipal court, a person will be likely to face misdemeanor charges. The same applies to other lower courts in the state. When a higher court processes the charges, they will most probably be felony charges.

A person that faces drug paraphernalia and other drug-related charges can expect the following outcomes:

  • The possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia will typically lead to Class 6 felony charges in Arizona
  • The delivery of drug-related paraphernalia to another person is a Class 6 felony
  • Advertising of drug-related paraphernalia is a Class 6 felony

Individuals that face misdemeanor charges may be sentenced to up to six months in jail, probation, community service and drug counseling. In the case of felony charges, the sentence will be jail time of up to one year, prison time of up to two years, three years of probation, drug counseling, regular drug testing, community service and the payment of fines. The most serious of offenses could come with a fine of up to 150,000 dollars for repeat offenders.

Possible Defense Strategies

Just like in the case of other criminal charges, it is vital to remain silent when being questioned by the police and to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer will analyze the situation to determine the defense scenario likely to deliver the most favorable outcome.

Insufficient evidence is one of the commonly used tactics. The prosecution is responsible to prove the use and/or the possession of the paraphernalia beyond reasonable doubt. Whenever the prosecution fails, the charges will be dismissed.

paraphernalia under arizona lawMistake of fact is a second common line of defense. Whenever the lawyer chooses this tactic, their job will be to prove that the defendant did not have the required intent to commit a crime.

A lawyer could also attempt to establish the fact that said paraphernalia was not used for drug-related activities. Violation of the defendant’s rights during the criminal procedure may also lead to the dismissal of the charges.

Finally, lawyers can opt for the entrapment defense. For it to work, a highly specific scenario would have had to unfold. Entrapment refers to being coaxed into committing a crime by a police officer (usually, a cop that participates in an undercover operation). There will have to be sufficient evidence that the defendant would have not committed the crime otherwise.