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arizona criminal defenseCharged with a Crime in Arizona?

Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties

A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.

If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Arizona criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.

What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?

The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:

  • Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
  • Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
  • Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
  • Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.

In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.

What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Arizona?

Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. Misdemeanors in Arizona may be designated as Class 1, 2, or 3; 1 being the most serious crime, and 3 being the least. If lawmakers fail to designate a misdemeanor, then it is punishable as a class 2 misdemeanor. The general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in Arizona are:

  • Class 1 Misdemeanors. Punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Crimes such as driving on a suspended license, assault, disorderly conduct, criminal damage, shoplifting and theft, and prostitution are considered Class 1 misdemeanors.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanors. Punishable by up to four months in jail and a fine of up to $750. Crimes such as intentionally exposing another person to an infectious disease, reckless driving, assault, criminal trespassing in the second degree and criminal damage are considered Class 2 misdemeanors.
  • Class 3 Misdemeanors. Punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Crimes such as asking a person to buy, sell, or give you alcohol if you are under the age of 21, criminal trespass in the third degree and criminal speeding are Class 3 misdemeanors.

Additional fines may be imposed against defendants convicted of drug crimes.

What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Arizona?

Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In Arizona, possible felony charges and penalties include:

  • Class 1 Felonies. Class 1 felonies are the most serious crimes, and first and second degree murder are the only class 1 felonies in Arizona. First degree murder is punishable by 25 years to life in prison, and the death penalty is possible. Second degree murder is punishable by 16 years’ to life imprisonment.
  • Class 2 Felonies. The presumptive term for Class 2 felonies is five years, and the aggravated term is 12.5 years. Crimes such as possession of dangerous drugs for sale, trafficking stolen property in the first degree, first degree burglary (with firearm), theft of property over $25,000 or more, sexual molestation of a child, producing or creating child pornography are all considered Class 2 felonies.
  • Class 3 Felonies. The presumptive term for a class 3 felony is three years and six months; the aggravated term is eight years and nine months. Crimes such as theft of means of transportation, theft of property over $4,000, burglary in the second degree, cultivation of four or more pounds of marijuana, are all considered Class 3 felonies.
  • Class 4 Felonies. Class 4 felonies have a presumptive sentence of two years and six months in prison and an aggravated sentence of three years and nine months. Crimes such as simple possession of dangerous drugs (methamphetamine), growing marijuana (not for medical use), theft of property over $3,000, possession of methamphetamine, and theft of property worth between $3,000 and $4,000 are all considered Class 4 felonies.
  • Class 5 Felonies. Class 5 felonies face a presumptive term of two years and an aggravated term of two years and six months in prison. Crimes such as pimping and pandering, theft of property over $2,000, personal possession of marijuana over two pounds, possession of marijuana for sale less than two pounds, and unlawful use of means of transportation are all considered Class 5 felonies. *If lawmakers fail to indicate a class for a particular felony, then it is punishable as a class 5 felony.
  • Class 6 Felonies. Class 6 felonies are the least serious felonies under Arizona law. The presumptive term for a class 6 felony is one year in prison and the aggravated term is two years in prison. Crimes such as personal possession of marijuana (not medical), unlawful use of means of transportation (as a passenger), possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of property over $1,000 are considered Class 6 felonies. Under certain circumstances, a judge may designate a class 6 felony conviction as a class 1 misdemeanor conviction and sentence a defendant accordingly.

Need a Arizona Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help

If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Arizona criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.