Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

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Heroin: Fighting the Epidemic and Clearing its Path of Destruction – Part 2 of 2

After a fatal drug overdose, moments count. Call #911 first. Get emergency treatment. If you are arrested, or Criminal Charges are brought, they can be defended by an experienced drug defense attorney. But you only get once chance to save a life.

Twenty-year-old Stephen Cardiges of Lawrenceville, GA was a week from celebrating his 21st birthday. He was an Eagle Scout, excited about his plans to join the US Navy after turning 21.  Stephan slipped into unconsciousness in the back of a Honda Civic, from a Heroin overdose, while his friends drove around town. His companions knew he was unconscious but didn’t want to call #911 or seeking help for him. Why? The reason was, they feared arrested for possession and use of Heroin. Perhaps they thought he would wake up on his own. Nonetheless, after a while, Stephen’s friends allegedly left Stephen there unconscious, in the back of the parked vehicle while they went their separate ways.

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Often people don’t seek emergency medical treatment for themselves or others following a potentially fatal overdose of heroin, for fear of arrest or prosecution. But the greatest threat is not criminal charges, its fatality.

Combating the Heroin Epidemic:  7 Heroin Facts; Statistics; Prevention and Treatment

Heroin Charges

According to the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC), overdoses of drugs in the USA have tripled during the last 25 years and are now the Number 1 cause of deaths. In 2010, they reported 38,329 overdose deaths in the U.S.A, and according to other reports, these numbers continue to rise in epidemic proportions. Accidental overdoses now exceed auto accident fatalities, in adults aged 25 to 64.

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One out of every eight Americans or 40 million people in the USA has a Xanax or Alprazolam Prescription.   What you need to know before you get behind the wheel.”  

Recently the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) issued a media release about a motorist in Maricopa County, being sentenced to 16 years in prison, as a result of a fatal DUI crash.  The accident killed a 13 year-old, and critically injuring four others in Phoenix AZ last year.  The driver was convicted of second degree murder, endangerment, aggravated assault and other serious criminal charges. The driver was found to be impaired, under the influence of a prescription drug, Alprazolam (Brand name Xanax).

Cause of the Driver’s Impairment in this DUI Case

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 “It’s not about giving up, or giving in. It’s about making sure the punishment fits the crime”.

Cases in Point

In April 2013, 46-year-old John Horner, a restaurant worker, and father of three children, was convicted of selling pain killers worth $1,800.00. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison due to the mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses. The question that begs answer is whether he deserved to be sentenced to life in prison.

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In Arizona, a motorist can be arrested for DUI even if their blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent or if they have had no spirituous liquor at all. Any DUI in Arizona is a criminal offense and subject to serious penalties including jail time, and suspension or loss of driver’s license. A conviction carries criminal and civil charges. Any DUI conviction in Arizona can potentially result in adverse collateral consequences for a person, including loss of their job, driving privileges, residency, and other freedoms they had prior to being convicted of a DUI.

Under Arizona Law A.R.S. 28 – 1381 it is unlawful to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, if a person is “impaired to the slightest degree” due to any drugs, alcohol, or combination, thereof. This year, Drug DUI charges constituted 14 percent of the total annual impaired driving arrests. Arizona officials reported that many of those were the result of driving impairments caused by prescription drugs.

This law applies to any toxic drug and includes “prescription-only drugs”, as well as over-the- counter drugs, illegal drugs, narcotics, Medical Marijuana or dangerous drugs.

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The Maricopa County Attorney’s office recently issued a press release about Maricopa County Prosecutors preparing to receive some of the most advance training available, to enhance prosecution of drug impaired drivers.

Drug DUI charges now constitute almost half of DUI charges. It is also reported that drug impaired drivers make up about 50% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes and serious motor vehicle accidents.

The officers will be sent for a week long course taught by internationally recognized experts in a variety of fields related to Drug effects and DUI impairments. Subjects will include:

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In Arizona, a motorist may be charged with Marijuana DUI, if they are under the influence of Marijuana, and they are driving “impaired to the slightest degree” A.R.S. 28 § 1381.

The burden of proof rests with prosecution to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that a person was actually driving impaired due to Marijuana found in their bloodstream.

Marijuana can actually remain in the blood stream for days and even weeks depending on how much was inhaled or ingested, and the frequency of use. In some cases, traces of Marijuana can be found after a month of use has passed.

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In Arizona, one primary factor for charging a suspect with possession of Marijuana with intent to sell is the quantity of a drug found in a person’s possession. In order to prosecute these charges there must be some additional evidence presented to support the charge. Examples may include proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intending to exchange something for the drugs such as cash, weapons, or other illegal drugs.

It could also include evidence of paraphernalia in close proximity to the drugs such as scales, ledgers, text or telephone records; baggies and other evidence that suggest the Marijuana was in a person’s possession for sale or intent to sell. Sometimes, co-defendant’s testimony in the same case or a different case leads to finding, arresting and prosecuting suspects for possession with intent to sell.

Classifications for Marijuana for sale or intent to sell

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Arizona’s Marijuana Possession Laws

In Arizona person may be arrested for Marijuana Possession under ARS § 13-3405. In order to prosecute these charges, the state must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” the possessor knew or had reason to know, that the Marijuana was in their possession. If the person knowingly possessed the Marijuana, they may be charged with Felony. The severity of the charges and punishment depend on the following:

  • Nature of the charges;