Will I Go to Jail on a First Time Drug Possession Charge in Arizona?

man standing in front of fence - first time drug charges

Will I Go to Jail on a First Time Drug Possession Charge in Arizona?

If you have just been caught with an illicit substance and are being charged with drug possession you might be wondering if you will face any jail time. 

Nearly all drug possession charges in Arizona are felony charges. However, the amount, type, and intended use of the drug factor into the type of sentencing you will face. Every case is different, so it is important to have legal representation from someone who can help you. 

Let’s take a look at first time drug possession charges in Arizona and some of the possible penalties. 


First Time Drug Possession Charges in Arizona

There are several factors that a judge considers when you go to court for drug possession. The type of drug, the amount in your possession, the location where you have it, and whether or not you intended to sell it will all factor into the sentence. 

Type and Amount of Illicit Substance 

The type of drug and the quantity in your possession have much to do with the charges that will be filed against you. For example, no charges would be filed for a pocket full of aspirin. However, we strongly recommend keeping both over-the-counter and legally prescribed drugs in clearly labeled bottles to avoid any hassles. 

Here are some of the different types of drugs and their typical penalties:


Peyote is legal in Arizona for religious exercises. Possessing, selling and transporting any amount for other purposes is considered a class 6 felony. The minimum amount of jail time for peyote possession is about six months, with the maximum being around two years. 


With the recent legalization of marijuana, any amount less than an ounce that’s intended for personal use will not result in a drug possession charge. Anything over that can result in a range of charges: 

  • Less than 2.5 ounces = Petty offense and a fine
  • Less than 2 Pounds = Class 6 Felony with 6 months to 2 years in jail and a fine
  • 2 – 4 Pounds = Class 5 Felony with 9 months to 2 years in jail, and a fine
  • Over 4 Pounds = Class 4 Felony with 1.5 years to 4 years in jail, and a fine


No matter the amount of narcotics on your person at the time of arrest, possession results in a class 4 felony. The minimum amount of jail time for narcotics possession is around one and a half years, and up to four years maximum. 

Intent and Location 

Two other huge factors in the amount of jail time you might receive are your location and the intent had for the substances in your possession. Drug felonies committed in school zones, and/or with the intent to distribute or sell are subject to an extra year in jail. They are also often a forfeit of receiving a mitigated sentence. 


First Time Drug Offenders in Arizona

For those who have never before been convicted of a felony, the court can decide to reduce a jail sentence. While still considered a felony; a mitigated (or reduced) sentence, may lower the amount of jail time by several months, or up to a year. 

Another program that Arizona offers is something called drug court. This is a possibility for those who do not have a history of violence to avoid jail time and receive help for drug addiction as well. Successfully completing a drug court sentence can drop a felony conviction down to a misdemeanor, and sometimes can even get the charges dropped completely.


Drug Possession Attorney in the Phoenix Area

Being charged with possession has lasting effects on your life. Each case is different, and every arrest and charge has its own nuances and can look very different from the examples given here. 

If you are facing first time drug possession charges in Arizona, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Todd Coolidge will go over all the possible outcomes of your specific case, and help you navigate your way through the courts to secure the best result possible. Call our offices today at 602-795-0770 to schedule a consultation.