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Methamphetamine Sentencing Provisions

In Arizona, most simple drug possession offenses fall under that protection of Proposition 200, a law that prohibits prison for drug offenders. However, the Arizona legislature has determined that methamphetamine use and abuse in Arizona has become so problematic, that methamphetamine offenses have been excluded from the protections of Proposition 200. This exclusion from Proposition 200 allows a full range of punishment for methamphetamine possession, including the possibility of a prison sentence. In the case of the manufacture or sale of methamphetamine, or even for the possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, the legislature has imposed punishments that far exceed the statutory sanctions for other drug offenses.

Again, Possession of Methamphetamine has been removed from the protections of Proposition 200. That means that even a first offense for simple possession of methamphetamine is a prison-eligible offense. Although probation is also a possibility, the law does not preclude the imposition of a prison sentence for first-time possession of meth. A second offense for possession of methamphetamine is not probation eligible, and will be sentenced by the courts in accordance with the law governing regular class 4 felonies, i.e., a prison sentence with a presumptive term of 2.5 years. The prison term grows even higher for third offenses.

It is in the area of the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine that the law gets trickier, and tougher. The legislature has taken the sentencing for these offenses outside of the standard sentencing framework of the Arizona Criminal Code.

The ordinary class 2 felony in Arizona has a sentencing range of 3 to 12.5 years, with a presumptive term of 5 years. Moreover, the ordinary first offense is "probation eligible." But in the case of the manufacture, sale, or possession with the intent to sell, of methamphetamine, the presumptive prison sentence jumps up to 10 years with a range of 5 to 15 years. And worse, the offense is a mandatory prison offense; it is not probation eligible. The penalty for a second conviction of one of these offenses gets even worse – the presumptive sentence goes up to 15 years, with a range of 10 to 20 years. The second offense, like any other second offense, is a mandatory prison offense as well.

Note that these enhanced sentences relating to the sale and production of methamphetamine, can also include the possession of equipment used to manufacture methamphetamine, provided the equipment is possessed with the intention of manufacturing methamphetamine.

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