Al, Butch, and Charlie have been buddies since their days at Arizona State University. At one time they had many things in common. Intramural sports, Sorority girls, video games, and, of course, partying. Nowadays, with their careers in full-swing, the three old friends barely get to hangout. They do get back together now and again. And they do still have one thing in common: partying – specifically, smoking Marijuana.
On a recent night out, the three friends decided to head to the Tempe Improv. Butch picked up Al and Charlie and headed for Tempe. Since Butch was driving, Al said he would bring a few joints and in return Charlie would buy the first round of drinks at the club. While driving, the guys lit a joint and talked of their days on campus.
Upon arrival at The Improv, the joint was still burning, so the three decided to finish it before exiting the car. Unfortunately, a Tempe Police Officer saw the guys smoking and passing the joint in the parking lot. Next thing the guys knew, they were all in handcuffs and Charlie had not even bought a drink.
Other than the small roach, the two other joints were in the center console, and not in anyone’s pocket. Yet, all three friends were charged with possession of marijuana – a class 6 felony according to the Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3405. This is where the story gets interesting and the friends’ stories diverge.
Al runs a small information technology business in Tempe and is self-employed. He does not have to worry about the arrest and criminal charges effecting his employment. However, Al is currently going through a nasty divorce. Al’s wife has alleged Al smokes Marijuana and therefore, at least according to her divorce pleadings, should not have “unsupervised parenting time” until he can prove he is drug free. Once his wife, or his wife’s attorney, catches wind of this arrest, Al’s road to easy parenting time and joint custody just got more challenging.
Butch is a long-haul truck driver. He has been since he failed out of architecture school and needed to pay rent. Butch’s employer doesn’t perform routine drug tests, but it does regularly perform background checks. And even though this is Butch’s first possession of Marijuana and it may be dismissed after he completes the TASC program, Butch will have a hard time randomly drug testing at TASC when he is out of state for work.
Butch will also have to deal with the DUI charge for Marijuana; also known as an “A3 DUI.” This will have a great impact on his profession since he drives for a living. Butch faces a license suspension and an ignition interlock device (A.R.S. 28-1381 and 28-3319), along with jail time and expensive fines.
Finally, Charlie works at a small business as an accountant and has been studying to take his CPA exam. Luckily for Charlie, his employer does not perform background or drug tests. (Charlie has already been arrested for possession of Marijuana three times; once in college, once while skiing in Flagstaff and once at the ASU/UofA Football game in Tucson.) Charlie has never been sentenced to any time in jail or prison because of these previous arrests, but his luck may have run out. TASC is not an option, pleading to a misdemeanor is not an option, and the state of Arizona is most likely going to seek incarceration due to Charlie’s history.
While the law is not supposed to discriminate, it is easy to see how a relatively small legal infraction will have drastically different outcomes for these three friends.