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possession with intent to distribute

Possession with intent to distribute carries extremely harsh penalties in Arizona. Sentencing ranges vary widely depending on the type of drug, as well as its schedule. However, many of these charges come with mandatory minimum sentences. That’s why it’s important to hire a drug crimes lawyer with experience in these types of cases.

At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we have extensive experience providing representation to those charged with possession with intent to distribute. If you need qualified representation and a strong defense, we’re here for you. To schedule a consultation about your case, please call our Phoenix office at 602-910-4040 today.

NOTE: Arizona Prop 207 may affect cases involving marijuana charges. We recommend speaking with an attorney about marijuana expungements if you have pending marijuana charges.

What Is AZ Distribution?

Drug distribution, also known as drug trafficking in Arizona, is defined as the possession of drugs for sale or the transportation of drugs for sale. When someone has a quantity of drugs that exceeds a certain level, it is usually thought that they intend to sell them. The following are some examples of Arizona drug threshold levels.

  • Marijuana: 2 pounds
  • Methamphetamine: 9 grams
  • Cocaine/Crack: 8 powdered grams or 750 milligrams of crack
  • Heroin: 1 gram
  • LSD: ½ millimeter
  • PCP: 4 grams
  • Amphetamine: 9 grams

If a person does not have a certain amount of drugs, other elements might lead to a conviction for drug distribution. These factors include whether the drugs were stored or hidden, whether the person in possession of the drugs also had a lot of money on hand, and whether the person in possession of the drugs also had equipment that could be used to sell drugs, such as containers, scales, baggies, and measuring equipment.

What Are Arizona’s Drug Possession and Intent to Sell Laws?

You can’t intentionally possess or use illicit substances in Arizona, according to state law. You’ll almost certainly be prosecuted with felony drug possession if you’re caught under the influence or having narcotics on or near you.

The state’s drug laws are highly specific, detailing the types and quantities of narcotics that are forbidden, as well as the penalties associated with them. The type of substance possessed, past criminal history, and whether you’re charged with simple possession for personal use or possession with intent to sell determine the consequences for drug possession in Arizona.

For a guilty verdict, the burden of proof for all offenses must be met. The state prosecutor must establish the following two assertions beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict someone of possessing a narcotic substance.

  • Defendant knowingly possessed the substance in question. It is not enough to just be there when narcotics are discovered to be convicted of possession. There must be proof tying you to the drugs, allowing it to be fairly assumed that you were aware of their presence. Furthermore, the prosecutor must prove that you had control over the narcotics.
  • The substance was actually an illegal drug. The prosecutor must additionally prove that the material found includes a known hazardous drug. A forensic scientist must test the drug, and that scientist must subsequently testify that the retrieved material is a hazardous narcotic.

Intent to Sell

Even for first-time offenders, intent to sell carries a mandatory jail term, so this is not a charge to be taken lightly. You might risk a long jail sentence or a hefty fine if you don’t hire an aggressive, skilled drug crimes attorney to fight for your freedom.

If you have more than the legal limit of a substance, law enforcement thinks you plan to sell it based only on the quantity. Additionally, if you have more than the threshold amount of drugs, you will not be eligible for probation and will face a mandatory jail term if convicted.

Beyond the amount of narcotics involved, law enforcement analyzes additional criteria when evaluating if a person had the intent to sell the drugs in their possession. They search for evidence of drug transactions, such as significant sums of money, text messages about sales, tiny baggies, foil, or scales.

What Is a Dangerous Drug in Arizona?

Possession or use of hazardous substances is classified as a Class 4 Felony under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3407. Any form of narcotic that isn’t marijuana is considered a dangerous drug in Arizona. Cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, hallucinogenic substances, and some prescription medicines are all prohibited.

What Is Possession with Intent to Distribute?

The first requirement, possession, does not need the illicit substances to be kept in a pocket or backpack. It might also imply that the medicines are under one’s direction. If narcotics are discovered in your house or car, for example, you may be considered in possession.

To have possession, however, you must typically be aware that the narcotics are present. You will have a solid defense if you had no knowledge the heroin or methamphetamine was there. Many jurisdictions additionally prosecute persons with possession if they “should have known” that they had drugs in their possession or if the substance in their possession was a restricted substance. The prosecution usually has an easier time establishing the possession element under this wide standard.

The government must establish what the individual in possession of the narcotics intended to do with them under the intent to distribute factors. Because a government prosecutor cannot see into an accused person’s thoughts, the surrounding circumstances must be utilized to show purpose. When the accused has an amount of the controlled substance that is too big to be for personal use, the intent to distribute or sell it is usually inferred. The presence of packing supplies, huge sums of money, and contacts from buyers are further indicators that the owner planned to sell the narcotics.

Penalties for Drug Distribution: A.R.S. § 13-3407

It is illegal to perform the following actions according to ARS §13-3407. We have also included the charges for each.

  • Have or use dangerous drugs (Class 4 Felony, may be reduced to a Class 1 Misdemeanor unless the substance was meth or amphetamines.)
  • Have dangerous drugs for sale (Class 2 Felony)
  • Possess equipment, chemicals, or both with the purpose of manufacturing dangerous drugs (Class 3 Felony, except if the offense involves meth. Then it increases to a Class 2 Felony)
  • Manufacture dangerous drugs (Class 2 Felony)
  • Administer dangerous drugs to someone else (Class 2 Felony)
  • Acquire the authority over dangerous drugs by way of deceit, fraud, or subterfuge (Class 3 Felony)
  • Sell, transfer, or propose to sell or transfer a hazardous drug for sale, import into this state, or transport for sale (Class 2 Felony)

When Does Possession of Marijuana Become Intent to Distribute?

Possession of marijuana for sale is defined by the legislation as satisfying three criteria beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Defendant knowingly possesses marijuana
  • That substance is confirmed as marijuana
  • They possess it for the purpose of sale

Despite the fact that all three criteria must be met in order for an intent to sell conviction to stand up in court, the specific definition of “intent to sell” might be a bit confusing. The amount of marijuana possessed is not usually used to determine “intent to sell,” but rather the evident purpose to exchange the plant for anything of value or advantage. Money is an example of a “valuable” item.

While the foregoing assertions alone may make it difficult to show intent to sell, there are other characteristics that distinguish possession from intent to sell. Of course, having a significant amount of marijuana in your hands makes the idea that it wasn’t for personal use rather obvious. When you add any of the following to your bulk possession, your purpose to sell becomes apparent.

  • Small plastic bags
  • Ledger
  • Large amounts of money
  • Text messages or phone records of intent to sell
  • Scales to weight products

However, if these things and circumstances do not conclusively show your intent to engage in marijuana sales, your case may be dismissed. As a result, the objective of defense becomes – at least in part – to deny this intent to sell in order to avoid the severe penalties imposed by Arizona law.

Defenses to Possession with Intent to Distribute

It’s critical to inquire about possible defense options when hiring an attorney to defend you in a drug possession case. There are a variety of techniques you may employ to lessen the severity of the accusations you’re facing and the fines you’ll incur. The following are some common defense techniques for drug possession with the intent to sell.

  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • Crime lab analysis finds that the substance is not illegal drugs
  • The drugs are not yours and belong to someone else
  • Entrapment

A good lawyer understands that the greatest defense tactics are developed after a thorough knowledge of the crime. Before representing you in court, the attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group will take the time to get to know you and your situation in order to craft a defense that will hold up in court.

Drug Distribution Lawyer in Phoenix

When you face charges of drug possession with the intent to distribute, you need the best legal representation possible. Our skilled criminal defense lawyers in Phoenix will fight hard for you and guide you through the complicated legal system.

We will not abandon you in the face of your accusations. To schedule a free consultation, call our experienced attorneys at (602) 910-4040 or fill out our contact form. Ybarra Maldonado Law Group’s drug possession with intent to distribute attorneys are ready to listen to your story and help you.



Our team of compassionate and experienced attorneys are here to help guide you in your time of need.

Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, Esq.

Founder & Principal Attorney of Ybarra Maldonado Law Group
Criminal Law, Immigration Law, Personal Injury, and Civil Rights
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Brett Turley, Esq.

Senior Criminal Defense Associate Attorney
Ybarra Maldonado & Associates
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