Interviewer: How have you seen the court system look at marijuana offenders versus other kinds of drugs? Are they more lenient on them, or are they just hardcore on everyone?
Michael Munoz: I think someone should always take any arrest and charge of any illegal drug very, very seriously. Saying that, because of culturally what’s happening in some states about marijuana, I think there is a softening through our culture about the idea of marijuana, but marijuana is still illegal, and people that don’t have a medical marijuana card and the legal right to possess or use marijuana should take that very seriously and they should not assume that the court system is going to be lenient on them because it was only marijuana.
The Courts in Arizona Tend to be Lenient With Marijuana Offenders as Opposed to Other Drugs like Heroin or Methamphetamine
Interviewer: Have you seen that the court is particularly harsh on certain kinds of illegal drugs that are not marijuana, or are they treated equally?
Michael Munoz: I think the courts are a little bit softer probably on marijuana, but that all depends on the person’s conduct, actions, and criminal history. If someone has a very bad criminal history and they’ve got a marijuana charge, they’re probably not going to get very much leniency from the court, because of their criminal history.
I would tell you that drugs like methamphetamine and heroin are drugs that you’re not going to see a lot of leniency on in the court systems.
There is No Specific Targeting Initiative for Drugs in Arizona
Interviewer: Do you know of any targeting initiatives right now in Maricopa County and surrounding certain drugs that they’re really not happy about and they want to stamp out?
Michael Munoz: There’s targeting in the sense that Arizona is a border state. Because of our proximity to Mexico there are a lot of illegal drugs that come through those borders, and so I wouldn’t say there’s a specific initiative.
A Brief Overview of Class Four Felony Drugs in Arizona
Interviewer: What about possession of other drugs – meth, heroin, crack? How is it different from possession of marijuana? Is it a higher-level felony? What’s the difference?
Michael Munoz: Yes. First of all, there are classifications. There’s possession of dangerous drugs. There’s possession of narcotic drugs. There’s a huge range of illegal drugs that get pushed into categories. One example is that methamphetamine is considered a dangerous drug. Cocaine is considered a narcotic drug. In terms of classification and level of offense, both of those are considered Class Four felonies, and those are much more serious than a marijuana charge, for example.
Difference Between Class Four Felony and Class Six Felony
Interviewer: How does a Class Four felony differ from a Class Six in terms of the possible penalties?
Michael Munoz: A Class Four felony has a sentencing range from one year to three point seven five years, and a presumptive of two and a half years in prison if convicted, and you do not get probation. Not to mention a Class Four felony is a permanent felony, whereas a Class Six felony could possibly be turned into a misdemeanor later, but there are issues to that. That’s not necessarily the truth in all cases.
The Scenario of an Arrest for Methamphetamine is Similar to a Marijuana Arrest
Interviewer: Are the circumstances for other drugs besides marijuana any different? Do people get arrested in different scenarios, or is it kind of the same thing no matter what the drug is? Are meth arrests different from marijuana arrests? Are the circumstances different? Are the people different, or do you see it affect all walks of life?
Michael Munoz: No. Methamphetamine, unfortunately, is a pervasive drug that is not just at the low end of society. It’s also made its way up to housewives, unfortunately. It’s a drug that, just like marijuana and any other drug, those arrests stem from traffic stops and contact with the police. There’s really no normal situation. They’re from all over.