How Do Criminal Justice Lawyers Defend Against Drug Transportation Charges in Arizona?

Expert Tactics by Criminal Attorneys for Navigating Arizona’s Drug Transportation Laws

The transportation of drugs in Arizona comes with hefty consequences. Arizona takes drug crimes very seriously and if you are charged with the transportation of drugs, you will find that drug-related crimes have some of the harshest penalties. 

If accused of transporting drugs, contact a Chandler drug crime lawyer right away to ensure your rights are protected. Your lawyer will listen to your situation and determine the best course of action. There are many defenses and nuances that could significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Lawyer consulting with a client about Drug Transportation Charges, gavel in foreground, emphasizing legal defense strategies

Understanding Drug Transportation Charges in Arizona

In Arizona, a drug transportation charge refers to the criminal offense of knowingly moving or transporting illegal drugs from one location to another within the state. This can include any act of moving drugs, whether by foot, vehicle, or other means, with the intent of distributing or selling those drugs.

According to ARS 13-3405, drug transportation is treated as a serious felony offense. The strict drug laws are designed to combat the trafficking and distribution of illegal substances within the state. 

What are the Penalties for Drug Transportation in Arizona?

A Chandler drug crime lawyer will tell you that penalties for drug transportation vary based on several factors, including the type and amount of drug involved, whether the offender has prior convictions, and the circumstances of the offense. The consequences according to Arizona law are:


  • Under 2 pounds: Class 3 felony. Possible penalties include 2-8.75 years in prison
  • 2 to 4 pounds: Class 2 felony. Possible penalties include 3 to 12/5 years in prison.
  • Over 4 pounds: Class 2 felony. Possible penalties include 4 to 15 years in prison.

Narcotic Drugs (heroin, cocaine, etc)

  • Less than the statutory threshold amount: Class 2 felony. Possible penalties include 3 to 12.5 years in prison
  • Equal to or greater than the statutory threshold amount: Class 2 felony. Possible penalties include 5.25 to 15.75 years in prison. 

Dangerous Drugs (methamphetamine, LSD, etc)

  • Less than the statutory threshold amount: Class 2 felony. Possible penalties include 3 to 12.5 years in prison.
  • Equal to or greater than the statutory threshold amount: Class 2 felony. Possible penalties include 5.25 to 15.75 years in prison.

Prescription Drugs

  • Transporting for sale: Class 2 felony. Possible penalties include 3 to 12.5 years in prison.

The threshold amount is a specific quantity of drugs set by Arizona law, above which mandatory enhanced sentencing applies. For example:

  • Marijuana: 2 pounds
  • Methamphetamine: 9 grams
  • Cocaine: 9 grams
  • Heroin: 1 gram

Legal Defenses Against Drug Transportation Charges in Arizona

Chandler drug crime lawyers are skilled at defending against drug crime charges and depending on the situation, can help reduce the sentence significantly. The common defenses for drug transportation are:

Lack of Knowledge

A basic element of drug transportation charges is that the accused knowingly transported the drugs. If the defense can show that the defendant was unaware of the presence of drugs, it may be possible to challenge the charges. For instance, if someone unknowingly transported drugs hidden in their vehicle by another person, they may lack the requisite knowledge to be convicted.

Lack of Intent

To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to transport the drugs. If it can be demonstrated that the transportation was unintentional or accidental, this defense may be applicable.

Illegal Search & Seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. If law enforcement officers conducted an illegal search or seizure without a valid warrant, probable cause, or consent, any evidence obtained during that search could be suppressed, potentially leading to the dismissal of the charges.


Entrapment occurs when law enforcement induces a person to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. If the defense can show that the defendant was coerced or pressured by police into transporting drugs, this could be a valid defense.

Violation of Constitutional Rights

If the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated during the arrest or investigation, this could result in the exclusion of evidence or even dismissal of the case.

Insufficient Evidence

The prosecution must prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence is weak, inconsistent, or insufficient to establish that the defendant committed the crime, the defense can argue for a not guilty verdict.

Mistaken Identity

If the defendant can show that they were not the person who committed the crime and that there was a case of mistaken identity, this can be a strong defense. This could involve alibi evidence or demonstrating flaws in witness identification.

Medical Necessity

In rare cases involving medical marijuana, the defendant might argue that the transportation was for medical purposes allowed under Arizona’s medical marijuana laws. However, this defense is limited and must meet specific legal criteria.

Duress or Coercion

If the defendant can demonstrate that they were forced to transport drugs under threat of harm to themselves or others, this could serve as a defense.

Lack of Possession

The defense might argue that the defendant did not have actual or constructive possession of the drugs. Actual possession means having physical control over the drugs, while constructive possession means having the ability and intent to control them.

Challenging The Evidence

This includes questioning the chain of custody, testing procedures, or reliability of drug analysis. If the evidence handling or testing is shown to be flawed, it could weaken the prosecution’s case.

Given the complexity and potential severity of drug transportation charges, it is crucial to seek a Chandler drug crime lawyer. They can evaluate the specifics of the case, identify the most viable defenses, and advocate on the defendant’s behalf in court.

Our Chandler Drug Crime Lawyers Can Defend Your Drug Transportation Charge!

Our experienced lawyers at My AZ Criminal Defense Lawyers are here to provide a strong defense, protecting your rights and fighting for the best possible outcome. With a deep understanding of Arizona’s drug laws, we will guide you through every step of the legal process.

Contact us today for a free consultation and take the first step toward safeguarding your future. 

Published On: May 24th, 2024Categories: Criminal Defense