Fentanyl Crimes Defenses and Penalties Under Arizona Law

fentanyl drug possession

Being charged with a fentanyl crime in Arizona can have serious consequences, including hefty penalties and a criminal record that can follow you for the rest of your life.


If you find yourself facing such charges, it's crucial to seek the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney who can help defend your rights and work towards the best possible outcome for your case.


Kolsrud Law Offices, led by former federal prosecutor Josh Kolsrud, specializes in handling Arizona drug cases and can provide you with the strong defense you need.


illegal drug exchange

Arizona Fentanyl Laws

 Under the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), particularly ARS 13-3401 and ARS 13-3408, fentanyl is classified as a dangerous drug, and the possession, use, manufacture, transport, or sale of fentanyl without proper authorization is illegal. The state has specifically targeted fentanyl due to its potency and the public health risk it represents.


The laws surrounding fentanyl are comprehensive and designed to address various forms of misconduct:

  1. Possession: Unlawful possession of fentanyl can lead to significant legal consequences. Depending on the amount possessed, individuals may face charges ranging from a Class 4 to a Class 2 felony, with penalties increasing with the quantity involved. 
  2. Sales and Distribution: Selling or intending to sell fentanyl is treated even more harshly. These offenses are typically classified as Class 2 felonies, which carry severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences. 
  3. Manufacturing and Transportation: Manufacturing or transporting fentanyl within Arizona, or across state lines, constitutes a major felony offense. These activities are aggressively prosecuted and result in some of the stiffest penalties under the law. 

For individuals facing fentanyl-related charges in Arizona, understanding these laws is crucial. It is also important to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney 

fentanyl drug trafficking

Fentanyl Trafficking

Fentanyl trafficking in Arizona is a significant issue due to the state's location as a key transit route for drug smuggling from Mexico.


The trafficking of fentanyl involves its illegal distribution and transportation, often leading to severe legal consequences under state and federal laws. Authorities in Arizona are highly vigilant and employ various strategies to combat this form of trafficking, emphasizing interagency collaboration and the use of advanced technology to intercept fentanyl shipments before they can reach communities.


Federal trafficking penalties for fentanyl vary based on the quantity of the drug involved.


Trafficking just 2 grams of pure fentanyl can lead to a minimum sentence of 5 years in federal prison, with sentences increasing for larger amounts.


For substantial quantities, the penalties can be severe, including life imprisonment. 

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What Are the Penalties for Fentanyl Crimes in Arizona?

In Arizona, penalties for fentanyl crimes are severe and vary based on the crime's nature and the quantity involved. They can range from a few years for simple possession (Class 4 felony) to over a decade in prison for trafficking or manufacturing (Class 2 felony).


Fines can reach up to $150,000, with higher penalties for more severe offenses or larger amounts of fentanyl. These stringent measures reflect Arizona's commitment to addressing the fentanyl crisis.



Class of Felony Crime Type Prison Time Fines
Class 2 Trafficking/Manufacturing Up to over a decade Up to $150,000
Class 2 Sales and Distribution Up to over a decade Up to $150,000
Class 4 Simple Possession A few years Up to $150,000

Defense Against Drug Charges Involving Fentanyl in Arizona

In Arizona, defending against drug charges involving fentanyl requires a comprehensive and strategic approach due to the substance's legal implications and the state's stringent laws.


Here are key defense strategies that may be employed:

  • Lack of Knowledge

    • Arguing that the defendant was unaware of the presence or nature of the substance can be a viable defense, especially if there is no direct evidence linking them to the fentanyl.

  • Unlawful Search and Seizure

    • This defense challenges the legality of the law enforcement's methods in obtaining evidence. If rights were violated during evidence collection, it might be deemed inadmissible in court.

  • Medical Necessity

    • In rare cases, if fentanyl was used for a legitimate medical purpose, this defense could be considered, although it's less common due to the drug's potent nature.

  • Mistake of Fact

    • Similar to lack of knowledge, this defense argues that the defendant mistakenly believed the substance was legal or was something other than fentanyl.

  • Chain of Custody Issues

    •  Pointing out flaws in how evidence was handled from the time of seizure to its presentation in court can lead to questions regarding its integrity and admissibility.

  • Entrapment

    • Demonstrating that the defendant was induced by law enforcement to commit a crime they would not have otherwise engaged in.

Each case is unique, a specialized lawyer can help explore all possible defenses to mitigate the charges or pursue a dismissal.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fentanyl-Related Crimes

How does law enforcement in Phoenix handle fentanyl-related offenses? Law enforcement officers in Phoenix take fentanyl-related offenses seriously due to the substance's high potency and risk. They actively pursue investigations and arrests for activities including fentanyl smuggling and drug trafficking.



Can I be charged with fentanyl possession for carrying drug paraphernalia? Yes, in Arizona, you can be charged with possession of fentanyl drug paraphernalia if you have items that can be used to consume or distribute a substance like fentanyl. This can add to your criminal charges and potential penalties.


How does Phoenix criminal law differentiate between fentanyl possession and possession with intent to sell? In Phoenix, drug possession charges are based on the quantity and the context in which the substance like fentanyl is found. Possession with intent to sell, especially fentanyl, usually involves larger quantities, packaging materials, scales, or other evidence suggesting distribution, leading to higher criminal charges.


What impact does a fentanyl drug crime have on my criminal record in Arizona? A conviction for a fentanyl drug crime can significantly impact your criminal record in Arizona, affecting employment, housing, and educational opportunities. It is classified under drug crimes in Arizona and remains on your record, highlighting the need for an experienced criminal defense attorney.


Can first-time offenders get probation for fentanyl offenses in Arizona? First-time offenders charged with fentanyl offenses in Arizona might be eligible for probation depending on the case specifics, such as the crime's severity and the amount involved. However, due to the potency of fentanyl, courts are often stringent, making skilled legal representation crucial.


What strategies do defense attorneys use to combat charges of fentanyl for sale? Defense attorneys may challenge the prosecution's evidence, argue against the alleged intent to sell, or dispute the legality of the police search and seizure. Experienced criminal defense lawyers are adept at navigating these complex legal waters, especially for cases involving fentanyl or similar substances.


What are the consequences of fentanyl smuggling across Arizona's borders? Fentanyl smuggling across Arizona's borders is a federal and state offense that can lead to drug trafficking charges, including a Class 2 felony in Arizona. Penalties can be severe, including long prison sentences and hefty fines, emphasizing the need for an experienced criminal defense.


Is there a difference between synthetic opioid charges and other drug charges in Arizona? Yes, in Arizona, synthetic opioid charges, including those involving fentanyl, are typically treated more severely than other drug charges due to the substances' high potency and risk of overdose. This distinction makes legal representation crucial for those facing such charges.

Get Help From a Federal Crimes Defense Attorney

If you're facing federal criminal charges related to fentanyl or other drugs, it's crucial to seek legal representation from a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. Josh Kolsrud, a former federal prosecutor and an award-winning defense attorney, has extensive experience handling federal criminal cases, including drug trafficking and other serious charges.


With a deep understanding of both state and federal law, Josh is dedicated to providing the best possible defense for his clients. 


Contact us today at 602) 638-3790.  to begin addressing your legal concerns with experienced professionals dedicated to your defense and legal well-being.


An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

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