If it’s classified as a felony, it’s going to be seven years. A lot of clients with a possession of marijuana charge, after the police officer impounds the drugs, sends them off to the lab and sits on the case for 18 months, ends up calling our office to say, “I thought this officer said that there wasn’t going to be anything that happened, and now I’ve got a felony that’s coming up.” They are surprised that this can last years upon years; they get six months down the road and think, “All right, I learned my lesson, and now I don’t have to deal with this,” and then it pops back up.
Are Drug Cases Harder To Defend Five Years Down The Road?
It really depends, and there is a lot that goes into negotiations and working up the case. It’s whether or not they have preserved the evidence and would there be an ability to retest the drugs, but the unfortunate part that comes about is when you potentially have good arguments to make, that’s when a prosecutor’s office makes a good plea offer, and a lot of times, clients want to hedge their bets and say, “Look, I did it. I want to take responsibility for it. They are offering me something that’s a misdemeanor. I just want to get rid of this case, and I want to be done with this and start putting it behind me and move on with my life.”
A lot of these cases won’t proceed to trial because if there is potential for some of these issues and the plea offers get better, clients don’t want to risk having a felony on their record, and the mindset is, “I did it. I admitted it to the police officer. I told them that it was marijuana, and I told them it was mine. I just want to get this over with.” We tell clients that we understand that they may have admitted this, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can be proven guilty. But a lot times, they want to hedge their bets and get a more beneficial resolution.
How Can A Prior Drug-Related Arrest Or Conviction Impact A Current Drug-Related Case?
They can affect your current drug charges substantially. In Arizona, we have what’s called Proposition 200, which essentially means that for simple possession cases for every drug, except for methamphetamine, if you have never been convicted of a drug offense and you get a charge or an arrest for simple possession of marijuana, cocaine or heroin, you would fall under that protection of Prop 200, meaning that you cannot be given jail time, and you cannot be given prison time on that first offense.
There are a lot of other things that come into play to be eligible for Proposition 200, but the basic premise is that for a first time offense in a simple possession case, we don’t want to put somebody in jail; we want to give them the opportunity to get drug treatment. There are some things that they’ll have to do, while on probation, in order to make sure that they comply with that proposition. On the second offense, there are still some protections under Proposition 200; but just like baseball, once you get three strikes, you are out of Proposition 200. They can prosecute you more fully under the law and say, “We’ve given you two chances; now it’s your third strike, so we are going to potentially look at increased incarceration time or prison time.”
What Is The Typical Process After An Arrest In A Felony Drug Case?
Normally, what happens is there is some sort of police contact. Simple possession cases either come from a traffic stop or from some sort of phone call to police. The police come out, and then they see that there are drugs or drug paraphernalia. Generally, what happens in those cases is they are going to confiscate all the evidence, take down your name and tell you that you are going to be getting something in the mail sometime later. They don’t issue you a citation or give you anything; they don’t arrest you, but they just tell you to be on the lookout for the mail.
The reason for that is they are going to take that evidence back to their precinct and send it off to get it tested. If it does come back as an illegal drug, then they are going to pass that over to the Maricopa County attorney’s office or whichever county attorney’s office is dealing with the case, and then they are going to say, “We are filing felony charges now.” It can take 12 to 18 months between when you had that initial police contact and when you actually are given a summons for court.
At this point you look at it and say, “Now, I am facing a felony. I have to go get my fingerprints taken; I have to go get a photograph taken,” and then you are going to go in for either an initial appearance or a not guilty arraignment. That’s basically the time where you go and plead not guilty, and that’s when your case starts on the trial track; or if it’s in the early disposition court, you’ll start that track.
For more information on Statute Of Limitations For Drug Cases, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (480) 400-1355 today.