Many people mistakenly believe that prescription drugs are safe simply because they can be purchased legally and are labeled as medicine. That belief can lead to a belief that selling prescription drugs is not a serious crime. The State of Arizona strenuously disagrees with that position, and has established laws that include jail time for almost all unauthorized sales of prescription drugs. However, there is flexibility within Arizona’s drug sentencing laws.
Sentencing in Arizona
Arizona law provides a list of standard or “presumed” sentences for every criminal act, including drug offenses. The presumed sentence is the sentence that will be given unless the defendant proves the existence of mitigating factors that convince the court the sentence should be reduced, or the prosecution proves aggravating factors that show the sentence should be increased.
Arizona law establishes shorter “minimum” sentences for cases with at least one proven mitigating factor, and an even shorter “mitigated” sentence for cases with at least two mitigating factors. Similarly, Arizona has longer “maximum” sentences for cases where at least one aggravating factor is proven, and even longer “aggravated” sentences for cases with at least two aggravating factors. Below are some common charges associated with selling prescription medications, as well as the sentences that accompany them.
- Unauthorized Sale of Prescription Medication
Under Arizona law, selling prescription drugs without the necessary license and permits is a Class 6 felony. The presumed sentence for a Class 6 felony is 1 year in prison, although the mitigated sentence could be as low as four months in jail. The aggravated sentence is 2 years in prison.
- Unauthorized Sale of Narcotics
Additionally, many prescription medications (such as methadone and fentanyl) are classified as narcotics, which carry steeper penalties. Both the sale of narcotics and the possession of narcotics for sale are Class 2 felonies in Arizona, which carry presumed sentences of 5 years in prison. The mitigated sentence is 3 years, and the aggravated sentence can be up to 12.5 years in prison.
- Serious Drug Offenses
Arizona also has a separate category of crime for “serious drug offenses,” which includes the sale of drugs in excess of a threshold amount established by the State. Sale of prescription drugs becomes a “serious drug offense” if the value of the drugs sold exceeds $1,000. Under Arizona law, repeat serious drug offenders can potentially be sentenced to life in prison.
As you can tell, Arizona considers the unauthorized sale of prescription drugs to be a serious crime. But Arizona law also gives defendants the right to prove to the court that the circumstances of their particular cases do not warrant significant jail time. If you’ve been charged with illegally selling prescription drugs in Arizona, you need to be represented by an experienced attorney. Our firm only represents clients accused of crimes in Arizona, and we have attorneys who specialize in drug crime defense, including the sale of prescription drugs. If you’ve been accused of a crime and need to speak with an attorney, call us today to arrange a free legal consultation.