This is the first post in a discussion addressing prescription drug charges brought in Phoenix and Maricopa County, Arizona. I am writing this series because, as many know, the abuse of prescription drugs is rising in Arizona and throughout the United States. In spite of aggressive public health campaigns, combined with increased punishments nationwide, abuse of drugs like Xanax, Oxycontin, Adderall, Klonopin, and Vicodin continues to climb and criminal charges are often the result. I hope, over the next several posts, to provide basic information which will help residents of our state understand the issues involved in such matters.
I will be addressing several topics over my coming articles. Topics which I will cover in this series include:
- A discussion of why prescription drug offenses are extremely serious charges in Arizona
- A discussion of whether one should accept a diversion program like TASC
- Why one needs to be honest with themselves when deciding whether or not to enter TASC
- An analysis of potential penalties in prescription drug matters
- A look at how search and seizure issues impact prescription drug cases
It is necessary to look at each of these issues because Arizona residents often think of being charged with a prescription drug offense as a relatively minor matter. As a result, many defendants go into Court with no understanding of what to expect and make the mistake of taking the first available plea offer. My hope is that defendants will be able to make more informed decisions after reading the basic information I will be providing.
One point that I cannot stress enough is that people should contact an attorney immediately if they have been charged with a prescription drug related offense. As I will discuss in more detail, many enter into TASC without honestly assessing whether or not they can succeed in such a program. This is understandable given the circumstances: one is summoned to Court for what may seem like a minor charge. They are then put into “RCC,” a type of Courtroom that is tasked with getting rid of felony cases quickly. Along with a group of about 50 people the severe possible penalties of a conviction are read. After a few hours they are able to meet with an overworked public defender for 15 minutes. These people, as a result, wind up making a quick decision without considering that ramifications, like having a permanent criminal record because they are unable to comply with TASC. Likewise, there are people who enter into the diversion program without understanding that they may have legitimate defenses in the case and that it may be in their best interest to dispute the charges. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney should be considered a necessity before appearing in any criminal matter.
Contact my office today to schedule a consultation with a lawyer. In addition to Phoenix I represent defendants in other Maricopa County cities such as Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert. I also assist Pima County residents in Tucson.