Possession of Methamphetamine in Arizona

possession of methamphetamine in arizona

In Arizona, the possession of methamphetamine is a felony, punishable by significant fines and potential jail time.


The severity of the penalties depends on factors such as the amount of methamphetamine in possession and the intent to distribute. If found guilty, the repercussions can have a lasting impact on your personal and professional life.


Kolsrud Law Offices can provide valuable guidance and representation to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. They can strategize a strong defense, challenge the evidence against you, and work towards minimizing the consequences of the charges. 


According to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission's 2020 Arrest Report, drug-related offenses, including methamphetamine possession, consistently rank among the top reasons for arrest in the state.

penalties for meth possession in arizona

Possession of Methamphetamine: Legal Implications and Penalties

In Arizona, the possession of methamphetamine, a highly addictive controlled substance, is subject to strict legal scrutiny. 


Methamphetamine Charges in Arizona

  • Class 4 Felony in Arizona: Generally, meth possession is considered a Class 4 felony. However, the seriousness escalates with the amount possessed, specifically when it exceeds 9 grams of methamphetamine, which is seen as an indication of intent to distribute. 
  • Personal Possession vs. Possession with Intent to Sell: Personal possession, especially for first-time offenders, may lead to different legal outcomes compared to possession with intent to sell. Arizona law treats these situations distinctly, with varying penalties. 

Penalties for Methamphetamine Possession

  • Penalties for First Offense for Possession: A first-time conviction for possession of a controlled substance such as meth can lead to severe repercussions, including up to 10 years in prison, even for quantities less than nine grams. 
  • Impact of Past Drug Offenses: Individuals with past drug offenses may face harsher sentences. The Arizona state law considers one's criminal history, especially related to drug crimes, when determining penalties.

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Understanding Methamphetamine Charges in Arizona

Possession of methamphetamine in Arizona is defined and governed by the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS). Specifically, ARS 13-3407 outlines the legalities of possessing, using, administering, acquiring, selling, manufacturing, or transporting methamphetamine.


The statute defines possession in a broad sense, encompassing both actual and constructive possession:

  • Actual Possession: This is when an individual physically holds or has methamphetamine on their person. It is the most straightforward form of possession and the easiest for the prosecution to prove.

  • Constructive Possession: A more complex form of possession occurs when an individual has control over the drug or the place where it is stored, even if it's not physically on them. This can include situations where methamphetamine is found in a person's home, car, or other property.

It's important to note that in Arizona, merely having control over methamphetamine, regardless of whether the individual intended to use it, can lead to possession charges.


Additionally, the law does not distinguish between small amounts for personal use and larger amounts; any possession is considered a felony offense.

drug threshold for meth in arizona

What is the "Drug Threshold" for Meth Possession in Arizona

The "drug threshold" in Arizona is a legally specified quantity of a controlled substance, beyond which possession is presumed to be for sale or distribution rather than personal use.


For methamphetamine, this threshold amount is defined as 9 grams under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-3401. Possession of methamphetamine in amounts at or above this threshold typically leads to more serious charges.

defense strategies for methamphetamine charges in az

Defense Strategies for Methamphetamine Charges

When addressing methamphetamine charges in Arizona, several defense strategies can be employed, depending on the case specifics:


Common defenses include:

  • Challenging the Prosecution's Evidence:

    • Question the accuracy and handling of drug tests.
    • Dispute the defendant's knowledge of having drugs in their possession.

  • Addressing Search-and-Seizure Procedures:

    • Argue against evidence obtained through unlawful search-and-seizure.
    • Seek to have such evidence deemed inadmissible in court. 

  • Highlighting Personal Circumstances:

    • Emphasize if the defendant is a first-time offender.
    • Present mitigating factors such as addiction struggles or mental health issues.

  • Negotiating Plea Bargains:

    • Work towards reducing the charges or negotiating a lighter sentence.
    • Explore options for plea deals when complete dismissal of charges isn’t feasible.

  • Proving Constitutional Violations:

    • Demonstrate violations of constitutional rights, such as the right to a fair trial or improper police conduct.
    • Highlight any infringement on the Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

  • Insufficient Evidence or Flawed Laboratory Analysis:

    • Challenge the sufficiency and reliability of the prosecution's evidence.
    • Question the accuracy and methodology of laboratory analysis used in drug identification.

  • Entrapment Defense:

    • Argue that the defendant was induced by law enforcement to commit a crime they otherwise would not have committed.
    • Show that entrapment led to the possession or distribution of methamphetamine.

  • Lack of Intent:

    • Argue that there was no intent to use, sell, or distribute methamphetamine.
    • Focus on disproving any elements of the charge that require intent.

  • Mistaken Identity or False Accusation:

    • Present evidence that the defendant was incorrectly identified or falsely accused.
    • Utilize alibis, witness testimony, or other evidence to counter the charges.

  • Coerced Confessions or Illegally Obtained Statements:

    • Contest the admissibility of confessions or statements obtained under duress or without proper Miranda warnings.
    • Seek to have such evidence excluded from the trial.

Each case is unique, and the viability of these defenses depends on the specific details and evidence of the case.


An experienced criminal defense attorney can assess these factors and advise on the most appropriate defense strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the legal consequences for a first offense of methamphetamine possession in Arizona? A: Even a first offense for possession of a controlled substance like methamphetamine can have serious repercussions. Under Arizona law, possession of meth, regardless of the amount, is typically considered a Class 4 felony. Penalties can include prison time, hefty fines, and the potential to lose public benefits. The specific sentence can vary based on factors like the quantity possessed and the individual’s criminal history.


Q: How does Arizona law treat possession of less than 9 grams of methamphetamine? A: Possession of methamphetamine in Arizona is illegal regardless of the amount. For amounts less than 9 grams, which is the legal threshold for presumed intent to sell, the offense is usually treated as personal possession. However, even for quantities less than nine grams, individuals may face severe penalties under state law, including imprisonment and fines.


Q: Can charges be dismissed if I was not aware of the drugs in my possession? A: Yes, awareness of drugs in your possession is a critical element of a drug possession charge. If the prosecution cannot prove that you were aware of the methamphetamine in your possession, it is possible to have the charges dismissed. 


Q: What defense strategies can be used if I'm accused of possessing more than 9 grams of meth? A: If you're caught in possession of 9 grams or more of methamphetamine, your defense strategy may include challenging the prosecution’s evidence, proving constitutional violations during the arrest or seizure, disputing the intent to sell or distribute, and highlighting any mitigating personal circumstances.


Q: Does Proposition 301 in 2006 affect methamphetamine offenders in Arizona? A: Yes, Proposition 301, enacted in Arizona in 2006, affects drug offenders, including those charged with methamphetamine-related offenses. This proposition emphasizes treatment over incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. Eligible individuals may be required to participate in drug treatment programs instead of serving prison time, especially in cases of personal possession without intent to sell.


Q: What are the implications of a criminal conviction for possession of methamphetamine on my life? A: A criminal conviction for possession of methamphetamine can greatly impact your life in Arizona. It may lead to imprisonment, substantial fines, and the loss of certain civil rights. Additionally, a felony conviction can affect employment opportunities, housing eligibility, and educational prospects. The addictive nature of meth also poses significant health risks, affecting the central nervous system and overall well-being.


Q: How does Arizona state law handle repeat drug offenders? A: Arizona state law imposes stricter penalties for repeat drug offenders. Individuals with past drug offenses, especially those involving controlled substances like methamphetamine, may face longer prison sentences, higher fines, and fewer opportunities for plea bargaining or alternative sentencing options. 

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

 In cases involving methamphetamine charges in Arizona, a criminal defense attorney can be a crucial ally. Attorneys at Kolsrud Law Offices, with their extensive experience in drug-related cases and backgrounds as former state and federal prosecutors, bring a unique and comprehensive perspective to such cases. 


Their expertise includes handling a wide range of criminal cases, from drug crimes to white-collar crimes and violent crimes. The initial consultation at Kolsrud Law Offices is free, providing an opportunity to understand legal options and defense strategies.


For assistance or to schedule a consultation, you can contact Kolsrud Law Offices at (480) 999-9444. 

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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