Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

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car washIn a recent Arizona drug crime decision, the defendant was convicted of transporting a dangerous drug for sale, possessing a dangerous drug, possessing a dangerous drug for sale, possessing drug paraphernalia, and possessing a deadly weapon while committing a felony drug offense. He was sentenced to presumptive, minimum, and concurrent prison terms. The longest of these was five years.

On appeal, he argued that the trial court incorrectly denied his motion to suppress, his convictions for transporting and possessing dangerous drugs violated the double jeopardy rule, and the court had miscalculated his entitlement to pre-sentence incarceration credit.

The case arose when a DEA agent got involved in a group surveillance of a stash house in a Tucson neighborhood that had a reputation for drug trafficking. The police saw two cars with out-of-state license plates involved in suspicious behavior at a convenience store. People with those license plates didn’t come there frequently. There was a lot of back and forth activity between the vehicles, and they left at the same time, which is a common sign of prohibited drug activity.

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drugsRecently, an Arizona appellate court considered an Arizona drug crime conviction for possession of narcotics for sale and possession of dangerous drugs for sale. The convictions were for class 2 felonies under A.R.S. §§ 13-3407 and 13-3408. The defendant argued that the fines imposed were unconstitutionally applied to him and that it was improper for the trial court not to consider his financial status when fining him.

The case arose when cops seized about 10 pounds of methamphetamine and under one pound of cocaine from the defendant’s home in Phoenix. The prosecution introduced evidence at trial to show that the value of the drugs seized was $8,000-10,000 for the cocaine and $30,000 for the meth. The defendant didn’t object to the prosecution’s evidence and didn’t offer any other evidence about the seized drugs’ worth. He was found guilty.

Under A.R.S. § 13-3407(H), the minimum he could be fined for possession of dangerous drugs was the greater of $1,000 or three times the value of the dangerous drugs as decided by the court. The judge had no discretion to suspend the fines. Under A.R.S. § 13-3408(F), the minimum he could be fined for narcotic drug possession was the greater of $2,000 or three times the value of the narcotics involved. The cap on fines was $150,000.

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drug signIn a recent Arizona appellate case, a defendant appealed from his conviction and sentences for possession of dangerous drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested in 2014 after being found in possession of meth in a plastic bag. The police had responded to a call about a suspicious man going into yards and knocking on doors. The man was reported to be Hispanic and in his 30s.

The defendant matched the description of a 911 call and was located a short distance away behind a retaining wall on private property. He identified himself, and the officer asked if he had anything he wasn’t supposed to have, like drugs or guns. He answered yes and was ordered to stop and place his hands on his head. He took his hand out of his pocket. The officer saw a plastic baggie sticking out. When he took it out, he saw it held a substance that looked like meth.

The meth was in the baggie, which was also in another baggie. He was arrested and searched, and the officers found a plastic baggie that held syringes. He claimed this was for insulin for a medical condition, which he stated wasn’t diabetes. He was indicted for possessing a dangerous drug (a violation of A.R.S. § 13-3407(A)(1), (B)) and for possession of drug paraphernalia (a violation of A.R.S. § 13-3415(A), (F)(2)).

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syringeIn a recent appellate case based on an Arizona drug crime prosecution, an Arizona Court of Appeals considered a conviction for possession of a dangerous drug. A police officer had been conducting surveillance on a residence when a blue car approached. The car’s passenger entered the home and then went back to the car two times. Each time, he was carrying something in his hands. Another officer followed him after he left the home, and he stopped the car for a traffic violation.

The officer got identification from the driver of the car and a passenger. He checked for warrants, and there were none. Other officers came to the scene, and one of the officer’s drug detection dogs conducted a sniff of the outside of the car.

The officers asked the driver and the passenger to get out of the car. The officer asked the passenger if he had weapons. When the officer conducted a pat-down of the passenger’s waist to make sure he didn’t have weapons, the passenger ran away. He took off his jacket and dropped it while running. The officer followed and arrested him.

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bag of airIn a recent Arizona appellate case, the defendant appealed his conviction for the sale of methamphetamine, a class 2 felony under A.R.S. section 13-3407(A)(2), as well as possession of drug paraphernalia, a class 6 felony, and endangerment, a class 6 felony.

He argued that there was not enough evidence to convict him on the meth sale charge. Specifically, the police hadn’t found meth on him or inside his car, and his fingerprints weren’t found on plastic bags containing meth. The prosecution hadn’t presented any evidence showing that he possessed meth for sale. Ordinarily, this is evidence like cash, a scale, or a ledger.

The appellate court disagreed, explaining that the prosecution had presented quite a bit of evidence that he did possess meth and drug paraphernalia. The defendant had not stopped during a traffic stop, causing detectives to pursue him until he crashed. After crashing, he got out of the car and fled from the officers. One chased by foot, and the other chased by car. They witnessed him throw an object away like a baseball.

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cannabisIn a recent appellate decision, an Arizona man appealed from a lower court’s ruling affirming DHS’ order that revoked his caregiver registration card under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, A.R.S. §§ 36-2801 through 2810 (“AMMA“). The reason for the revocation was that the man had committed an excluded felony offense back in 2005 and was not eligible to be a designated caregiver under the statute.

The case arose in 2005 when the man pled guilty to possessing cocaine for sale, which was a class 2 felony. His sentence was suspended, he was fined, and he was put on probation for five years. He completed probation and paid the fine, and he was discharged from probation in 2008.

However, after that, he tried to have his 2005 conviction set aside under A.R.S. § 13-907. These motions were denied, and he tried again in 2012. but the superior court denied the motions. He tried again in February 2012. In two months, the court granted the application and formally set aside the judgment. The order also restored his civil rights except the right to possess or carry a firearm.

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drugsIn a recent Arizona appellate case, the court considered whether using multiple deadly weapons while committing a drug felony was a single offense, among other things. The case arose when an officer parked in the median of I-17 saw the defendant slow down as he passed him. The officer followed him and saw him hit the brakes for no reason and swerve across a white line. He pulled him over, and after hearing inconsistent statements from the defendant and his passenger, he asked for a drug canine unit.

The dog alerted, and two handguns, heroin, meth, and a used syringe were found. The defendant admitted he’d used heroin earlier and gave a urine sample of his own volition. The sample had metabolites of marijuana, meth, and heroin in it. He was indicted for multiple counts, including transportation of meth, a dangerous drug, and misconduct involving weapons. His passenger was also indicted.

The defendant was acquitted of certain offenses but found guilty of a DUI charge, transportation of a dangerous drug for sale, misconduct involving weapons, and other charges. The codefendant was also found guilty, and the fact that there was an accomplice was an aggravating factor. The defendant was sentenced to concurrent aggravated prison terms. The longest term imposed was 14 years. The defendant appealed.

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Article Updated July 28, 2017                        “Public Health Crisis of Historic Proportions”                                                                                           

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On December 6, 2016, United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg announced results from the 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), the comprehensive annual assessment providing “a national-level perspective of the illicit and remarkably dangerous drug threats facing the United States.” In a DEA press release, Rosenberg said that the report reconfirmed that opioids such as heroin and fentanyl are killing people in the country at “a horrifying rate.” Rosenberg said the country faces “a public health crisis of historic proportions.”

According to the NDTA, heroin overdose deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2014. The 2016 NDTA found that Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) continue to act as the biggest criminal drug threat to the United States and are the primary suppliers of heroin as well as cocaine and methamphetamine.

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DEA danger warnings; Arizona Laws, Facts, Trends, and Criminal Defense

Novak-Fentanyl-Blog-300x300The National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported this year that the USA is facing drug overdose deaths in epidemic proportions.

In the data collected by the CDC, it was concluded that overdoses increased 137 percent over the last decade.

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Medical Marijuana and PrescriptionsOn November 20, 2015, the Supreme Court of Arizona decided Dobson v. McClennen (P.3d, 2015 WL 7353847, Arizona Supreme Court 2015). The decision has important implications for individuals that use medical marijuana and might have THC or its metabolite in their system but drive at a time when they are not impaired. Jokingly called the “Driving While a Habitual User of Marijuana,” these prosecutions are no joke.

Although the responsible use of cannabis for medical purposes has largely been decriminalized in Arizona, prior to this decision the DUI laws effectively made it a crime to drive as a medical marijuana patient (even after the impairing effects faded and disappeared). In other words, using medical marijuana should not automatically be a DUI when there was no actual impairment at the time of driving.

The decision in Dobson v. McClennen didn’t make either side happy. The defense wanted a ruling that Medical Marijuana Patients were immune from the “per se” version of DUI under § 28–1381(A)(3). On the other hand, the prosecution wanted a ruling that a positive blood test meant an automatic “per se” DUI conviction under § 28–1381(A)(3). The Court rejected both positions and came up with a middle ground that leaves many of the complicated issues surrounding driving after consuming medical marijuana unresolved.