Aggravating factors lead to an enhanced sentence. An arrest for a drug offense is bad news. And that bad news can become substantially worse in certain circumstances.

The recommended sentence for your alleged offense will vary widely depending on where the offense took place. If you were on the grounds of a school, for example, you will face harsher penalties than if the offense happened elsewhere. That’s because using or selling drugs near children or in a school zone is considered an aggravating factor.

If you are arrested for a drug offense and it is determined that there is one or more aggravating factor involved, you could be looking at a significantly longer sentence if you are convicted. In the worst scenarios, a drug offense in Arizona could result in a prison sentence of 20 or more years.

How Aggravating Factors Affect Your Sentence

In Arizona, there are five levels of sentences for drug offenses. For our purposes here, we are interested in the two that come with the stiffest penalties:

  • Maximum sentence. This is the sentence you can receive if there was at least one aggravating factor involved in the offense.
  • Aggravated sentence. This sentence is for offenses that involve at least two aggravating factors.

And just what are these aggravating factors? There are a number of them, including:

  • Committing the drug offense near a school or with the involvement of any children
  • Committing the drug offense as part of gang-related activity
  • Committing the drug offense while out on parole
  • Being previously convicted of a drug offense

Other factors that will figure into sentencing include:

  • The type of drug involved in the offense
  • The amount of the drug involved in the offense
  • Whether or not the drugs were intended for sale rather than personal use

If You Are Facing Drug Charges, You Need an Expert Attorney on Your Side

Given all that is at stake, it is imperative that you have the guidance, support, and skill of an experienced attorney when you are facing charges for a drug offense. That is true whether there are aggravating factors in play or not—but the harsh penalties for crimes that do include aggravating factors highlight why qualified legal representation is absolutely essential.

Your attorney will fully investigate your case, including the aggravating factors that have been included as part of the charge. In some cases, it may be possible to contest the appropriateness of those aggravating factors. In other cases, it may be possible to argue that there are mitigating factors (think of these as the opposite of aggravating factors) that the court should take under consideration.

Mitigating factors may include:

  • How large a role an individual played in the commission of a crime
  • Whether there were unusual circumstances that put pressure on the person charged with the crime
  • Issues like a substance use disorder that may make it more difficult for a person to obey the law
  • The individual’s age at the time the crime was committed

An attorney will ensure that all mitigating factors are considered and that aggravating factors are carefully investigated. The goal of these efforts is, of course, to minimize any penalties you may receive as a result of a drug offense. 

A Good Attorney Can Be the Deciding Factor in a Drug Case

If you have been arrested for a drug offense, the attorneys of Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, have the experience you need to mount a vigorous defense. Our thorough approach includes making sure that you are protected from the inappropriate application of aggravating factors to the case against you. 

You will want an attorney working for you as quickly as possible to ensure that all possible defenses are explored and the best one chosen and vigorously employed on your behalf. The top-rated attorneys of Griffen & Stevens will work toward the best possible outcome of your case. To get the process started, contact us right away to set up a free initial consultation.

Bruce Griffen, Esq.
Bruce Griffen is a top-rated Arizona criminal defense lawyer who has 40 years of felony trial experience.