You could be charged with drug trafficking under threshold amount laws.So, the police have caught you with drugs. This is, of course, bad news. 

But depending on how much you have on you, there may be worse news coming. You might be charged with—and convicted of—drug trafficking.

That may strike you as ridiculous. After all, the charge of drug trafficking is for people, for example, who are bringing significant amounts of a drug across the Arizona border with the express purpose of selling it, right? That doesn’t apply to you, right?

Well, it turns out that Arizona law contains a provision about threshold amounts. What does that mean—and just what amounts are we talking about? Let’s take a closer look.

Defining and Determining Threshold Amounts

The term threshold amount simply refers to the amount of a drug that triggers a trafficking charge rather than just a possession charge. Different drugs have different threshold amounts:

  • Amphetamine (including in liquid suspension) = 9 grams
  • Cocaine = 9 grams
  • Heroin = 1 gram
  • Marijuana = 2 pounds
  • Methamphetamine (including in liquid suspension) = 9 grams
  • PCP = 4 grams or 50 milliliters

Potential Penalties

A drug trafficking charge is no small matter. Depending on the specific drug and quantity in question, the minimum sentence could be as much as seven years in prison for a first-time offender. 

In order to secure a conviction, the prosecution will have to demonstrate that you knowingly imported, transported, or sold a recognized narcotic drug. Remember, if you are in possession of more than the threshold amount of any given drug, you will not be able to argue in court that it was for your personal use. 

Potential Defenses

The threshold makes the presumption that you are engaged in trafficking based on the amount of the drug you have. After discussing the details of your situation with you and investigating the details of your arrest, your attorney will settle on one of several options for your defense. 

  • Duress. This defense requires that you were under some sort of threat that forced you to commit the crime. 
  • Lack of knowledge. You may have heard it said that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”—and that’s true in many cases. However, a lack of knowledge about a law (particularly if it is a new law) may be a potential defense for drug trafficking.
  • Illegal search and seizure. Did the police follow proper procedures when they searched you, your home, or your vehicle? If not, the search—and the seizure of the drugs—may have been illegal.
  • Lack of probable cause. The police cannot search you for drugs on a whim. Rather, they must have probable cause—a legitimate reason to suspect you might be committing a crime. If they don’t, they can’t investigate whether or not you are in possession of drugs.

You Need Representation Right Away

The single most important thing you can do if you are arrested on a drug trafficking charge is to hire an attorney to represent you. As we have discussed, the penalties for drug trafficking are severe, so it is absolutely essential that you have an advocate who can evaluate the evidence, the circumstances of your arrest, and the legality of the search that led to your arrest. Once that thorough investigation has been completed, your attorney can develop an appropriate defense.

We Are Ready to Help

The attorneys at Griffen & Stevens have the expertise and experience necessary to provide the defense you need following an arrest for drug trafficking. Drug enforcement in Arizona is pursued very aggressively, so it is imperative that you avail yourself of a vigorous defense. The drug defense attorneys in our office work to protect the futures of individuals who may have made a mistake—and who are genuinely remorseful about that mistake. If you need help, you should reach out to Griffen & Stevens without delay.