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What are the Elements of a Drug Sale Offense?

If you have been charged with trafficking in illegal drugs, you may already realize that your entire future is at stake.  The political climate in the United States in general, and in Arizona in particular, is such that the penalties for sale of most illegal drugs are harsh, including stiff fines and substantial time in jail.  It is therefore essential that you know what you’re up against, and retain the services of an experienced Phoenix attorney to guide you through the process.

Arizona law states that it is illegal to knowingly sell or transfer narcotics and other drugs.  Sale and transfer includes providing drugs to another in exchange for something of value, as well as giving drugs away.  The State must therefore prove that you knew you were in possession (actually or constructively) of the drugs, and that you performed some act or acts from which a jury could reasonably conclude that you sold or transferred the drugs to another person.  Of course, there are many statutes prohibiting the sale or transfer of a host of different substances, and the proofs and the potential penalties will depend upon the specifics of your charge. You’ll also want to be aware of defenses that may apply in your case.

Are There Any Defenses to a Drug Sale Charge?

The answer is a resounding yes!  In addition to the requirement that the government prove each element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, there are affirmative defenses that can be raised:

  • Search and Seizure. The State has usually seized the drugs and will attempt to introduce them into evidence, along with the circumstances showing they belonged to you, at trial.  An important issue is whether the drugs were obtained by the police legally, or whether your constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure has been violated.  If a violation has occurred, the evidence, in this case the drugs that form the foundation of the prosecution’s case, will be inadmissible at trial and may not be used against you.
  • Challenge the Evidence. We can also attack other evidence offered to show that there was a sale or transfer of drugs.  Often, proof of this element of the crime comes from a confidential informant or other individual.  The reliability of that person’s testimony can be challenged, especially since it may come from a potential co-defendant who has received favorable treatment in his case in exchange for testifying against you.
  • Challenge the Use of a Confession. Many criminal cases are based to a large degree on statements made by the accused.  Again, even a confession can be attacked at trial on grounds that it was illegally obtained, perhaps because of a violation of your right to remain silent, right to counsel, or other reasons that render the confession inadmissible.  The lesson, of course, is that you should not make any statement about your case to the police, prosecutors, investigators or anyone else, unless and until you have the assistance of an experienced and competent criminal defense lawyer.

Law Offices of David A. Black – Defense of Drug Dealing Charges

As a former prosecutor who now devotes his law practice almost entirely to criminal defense, David Black has the experience to be your best advocate when you are charged with the sale of illegal drugs.  With offices in Phoenix, Mr. Black regularly represents clients charged with various drug offenses.  He knows the system from both sides of the aisle, and he will analyze your situation, and find the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.  He will develop a strategy, explain it to you in plain language, and he will be with you every step of the way as your case develops.

Call (480) 280-8028 for a free consultation.