What Does Drug ‘Threshold’ Mean in Phoenix, Arizona?

by Aaron Black • April 02, 2020
Large quatity of marijuanaArizona has tough laws for dangerous drugs and among them is a “threshold” amount. This is determined by using one or more of three criteria - the quantity, weight, or street value of $1,000 or more of the perilous drug authorities found in your possession.

Note that the weight includes “the entire weight of any mixture or substance” under Arizona Revised Statute §3401(39).

Breaching one of these thresholds is sufficient reason to be charged with manufacturing, transporting, selling, transferring, or offering to do one or more of them. At threshold levels, law enforcement assumes that you intended to sell the drugs even if your true intent was personal use. Scales, packaging and other evidence don’t have to be found.

Arizona’s Common Threshold Amounts

The Arizona Revised Statute §13-3401(36) defines the threshold amounts of these common unlawful substances:
  • One gram of heroin
  • Nine grams of cocaine
  • 750 milligrams of cocaine base or hydrolyzed cocaine
  • Four grams or 50 milliliters of PCP
  • Nine grams of methamphetamine, including methamphetamine in liquid suspension
  • Nine grams of amphetamine, including amphetamine in liquid suspension
  • A one-half milliliter of lysergic acid diethylamide, or in the case of blotter dosage units 50 dosage units
  • Two pounds of marijuana

Penalties for Breaching Drug Thresholds

Those who possess a threshold amount of drugs will face a class 2 felony charge, the second most serious of the felony range. Possessing equipment for manufacturing dangerous drugs is a class 3 felony. If convicted of these threshold levels, the sentence includes lengthy prison terms and thousands of dollars in fines.

The punishment for repeat offenders increases the prison sentence and fines under the state’s sentencing guidelines.

Felony convictions also mean the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms and right and civic duty to vote are rescinded. Beyond those penalties, felons can be fired from their jobs and those who have professional licenses, such as teachers and financial consultants, may lose their license to practice their profession.

On the Homefront, finding a place to live will be difficult because landlords have a legal duty to protect their residents.

A period of probation begins after release from prison and can complicate your life by requiring you to meet regularly with a probation officer. And if you violate any of the terms of probation, such as successfully completing drug education classes, you’ll be returned to prison.

A felony conviction stays on the criminal record for life.

What should I do when questioned by Authorities?

Before an arrest is made, authorities need to gather evidence from your statements, and that’s dangerous to your defense. That’s because anything you say will be used against you. You have the right to decline to answer questions under the Fifth Amendment and it’s advisable to respectfully invoke your right to remain silent at the outset.

You also have the right under the Sixth Amendment to have a defense attorney at your side during questioning to protect your rights.

At the moment of arrest Authorities must advise you of those two Constitutional provisions, also called Miranda rights, but they can start asking away without telling you anything.

Legal Defense

An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney is crucial to achieving the best possible defense theory based on the facts involved.

The defense will conduct an aggressive and thorough probe of the state’s evidence and procedures. This includes challenging the credibility of a witness who is trying to implicate you by investigating the witness’s character and any previous brushes with the law.

Long before trial, the defense may be able to move for suppressing certain state evidence so it can’t be used against you.

Should the prosecution have a strong case, it can benefit you to enter into a plea agreement, which often happens to reduce the court calendar and save taxpayer money. By agreeing to plead guilty to a less serious charge, the punishment is reduced. But that choice is yours alone.

Common Drug Threshold Defenses

To be convicted in Phoenix, AZ you had to have knowledge of the drugs, and being in close physical contact with the drugs, the state assumes you did know. For example, a truck driver has no knowledge that the load they are carrying includes a lot of drugs and is in close physical contact with them. Your defense attorney must develop evidence to establish reasonable doubt.

It may be prudent to cooperate with authorities to show you had no intent but be sure to have an experienced criminal defense attorney with you to protect your rights and your freedom.

The entrapment defense is doing something you wouldn’t have done without authorities pushing you to do it. It’s a problematic defense. Under Arizona Revised Statute §13-206 to use entrapment as a defense, you must admit to the substantial elements of the crime. Law enforcement officers and their agents are allowed to use a ruse or to conceal their true identities, so they can lie to you.

Investigative errors such as…
  • Faulty police reports
  • Failing to advise you of your Miranda rights
  • An invalid search warrant
  • Failing to have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop
  • The accuracy of the measurements involved in the stop is valid defenses

Free, Confidential Legal Consultation

Contact Phoenix, AZ Criminal & DUI Defense Attorney Aaron Black or call (480) 729-1683 for a free, confidential legal consultation. I will listen to your side of the story and ask questions along the way and answer your questions.

I am available day and night every day including weekends and holidays. I’ll promptly respond unless I’m in court.

I have a record of aggressively defending clients while providing personalized service. You can rest assured that you won’t be handed off to a legal assistant.

I defend drug threshold cases in Arizona’s justice, municipal, county, state, and federal courts.

About the Author

Aaron Black is the founder and sole attorney of the Law Office of Aaron Black. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, his DUI and criminal defense law firm provides legal services to people who have received felony or misdemeanor charges from the state.

Aaron has developed a strong interest in defending people who have been arrested and received criminal charges for driving under the influence. With his professionalism and knowledge of Arizona DUI and criminal law, he has acted as a check and balance on the police, prosecution and courts and has protected a great number of his clients from excessive and unfair sentencing.

Along with DUI defense, Aaron handles a range of other criminal matters, including aggravated assault, burglary, domestic violence, drug possession, drug trafficking, fraud defense, insurance fraud, sex crimes and white-collar crime.

After graduating college in 2003 from the University of Arizona, Aaron decided to pursue a law degree. He followed a family long tradition and went to the University of South Dakota School of Law where he pursued his goal of becoming a criminal defense lawyer.

After passing the Arizona and South Dakota bar exams, Aaron joined the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender where he defended hundreds of people charged with serious criminal offenses. His work as a public defender helped him sharpen his litigation skills and gave him a unique insight into the Arizona criminal justice system.

Over the course of his 15-year legal career, Aaron has spent a considerable amount of time in both Arizona justice, municipal, state and federal courts. He has argued over 50 jury trials, tried over 100 bench trials and has become one of the highest-rated criminal and DUI defense attorneys in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. He has received a 10/10 rating from the legal directory Avvo because of his legal background and successful case record. Since 2014, he has received the Super Lawyer rating for his work as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.

You can review Aaron’s Attorney Bio page for more information about his background, education and experience as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.
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