Felony Classifications in Arizona
- Felony Classifications in Arizona
- What is a Felony?
- What Happens If I Am Convicted of a Felony in Arizona?
- Stages of a Felony Case in Arizona
- How are Felonies Classified in Arizona?
- Imprisonment for a Felony
- Felony Expungement in Arizona
Arizona divides crimes into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. These classifications have the greatest impact on the type of punishment or punishments that will be administered. The more serious the crime, the harsher the punishment.
If you are convicted of a felony in Arizona, you will likely have to serve jail time. When you are released from incarceration, you might not be able to purchase a firearm, obtain certain types of licenses and, thus, work certain types of jobs. This is just one more reason why you need a good Arizona criminal defense lawyer on your side if you are charged with a felony in the state.
What is a Felony?
Felonies are serious crimes and are viewed by the criminal justice system accordingly. They are usually punishable by at least 12 months in jail. Some felonies are restricted by a statute of limitations. This means that the state of Arizona has a limited time to prosecute a person for the crime after the crime has been committed. Serious felonies like murder, however, have no statute of limitations. A person can be tried at any time after the crime was committed when it comes to a serious felony.
What Happens If I Am Convicted of a Felony in Arizona?
If you are convicted of a felony in Arizona, you will likely have to serve jail time. When you are released from incarceration, you might not be able to purchase a firearm, obtain certain types of licenses and, thus, work certain types of jobs. This is just one more reason why you need a good Arizona criminal defense lawyer on your side if you are charged with a felony in the state. Contact our lawyers today. We can help you to achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case.
Stages of a Felony Case in Arizona
If you’ve been charged with a felony you are likely facing the most terrifying and uncertain experiences in your life. Therefore, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the criminal process that lies ahead. If you’ve been charged with a felony in Arizona, you can anticipate going through the following stages:
If you have been arrested for a felony you will either be taken into custody and booked or cited and released. If taken into custody you will have an initial appearance (or arraignment) before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. Alternatively, if you were cited and released, you will be expected to appear at court at the scheduled date and time on the citation given to you at the time of arrest.
At the initial appearance, a judge will determine your release conditions. Factors considered in determining your conditions of release include the severity of the crime, your prior criminal history, ties to the community, and whether you are a flight risk.
At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution must prove to the judge that there is probable cause to file charges against you. The preliminary hearing is essentially a mini-trial where the defense is given the opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. The state may vacate the preliminary hearing and request a grand jury hearing to determine whether there was probable cause.
At the arraignment, the judge will read the charges against you and will ask whether you have retained counsel or would like for the court to appoint an attorney. The judge will also schedule future court appearances.
In most cases, the prosecutor will present a plea offer in which the prosecutor offers to accept punishment in exchange for accepting a guilty plea.
There are typically several pre-trial conferences that occur in a felony case and are scheduled about every 30 days. At the pretrial conference the prosecution and defense attempt to negotiate a plea deal, and the judge will ensure that all discovery items have been turned over to the court. Defense counsel often file motions during this stage such as a Motion to Suppress Evidence.
Jury or Bench Trial
If you are unwilling to accept the plea offered by the state (if any) your case will be set for trial. Trial may be by judge or jury, A jury trial consists of 8 or 12 members of the community that will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty. If the jurors are unable to reach a unanimous decision the judge will order a mistrial. In the event of a mistrial, the state can amend the plea offer, retry the defendant with another jury, or dismiss the charges. In the case of a bench trial, the judge will determine whether you are guilty.
A sentencing hearing normally occurs within 30 days of a guilty verdict or plea. At the sentencing hearing the judge will hear mitigating factors presented by the defense in addition to the recommendations by the state in determining your punishment.
How are Felonies Classified in Arizona?
Arizona classifies felonies into six categories, with Class 1 being the most serious and Class 6 the least serious:
Class 1 Felony
Class 1 felonies are the most serious crimes in Arizona. They include:
- Murder in the first degree – possible sentences include life in prison without parole or the death penalty
- Murder in the second degree – possible sentences include up to 25 years in prison
Class 2 Felony
Class 2 felonies are the second most serious crimes in Arizona. A complete list of all felonies, including Class 2 felonies, can be found here. Class 2 felonies include (but are not limited to):
- Attempt of a Class 1 felony
- Producing child pornography
- Drive by shooting
- Sex trafficking
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated assault
- Discharging a firearm at a residence
The minimum sentence for a Class 2 felony in Arizona is three years in prison. If the crime is considered to be aggravated, however, it can be 12.5 years in prison.
Class 3 Felony
The minimum sentence for a Class 3 felony is two years. They include (but are not limited to):
- Discharging a firearm at a non-residential structure
- Attempt of a Class 2 felony
- Solicitation of a Class 1 felony
- Sexual abuse of a person under 15 years of age
- Burglary in the second degree
- Aggravated criminal damage
- Aggravated taking the identity of another person/entity
- Trafficking in stolen property
Class 4 Felony
The sentence for a Class 4 felony is usually between one and 3.75 years. They include (but are not limited to):
- Theft of protective native plants
- Racing violations
- Attempt of a Class 3 felony
- Solicitation of a Class 2 felony
- Negligent homicide
- Unlawfully obtaining labor or services
- Criminal damage over $10,000
Class 5 Felony
The minimum sentence for a Class 5 felony is six months in prison. They include (but are not limited to):
- Sale of livestock without lawful brand, bill of sale, or power of attorney
- Attempt of a Class 4 felony
- Solicitation of a Class 3 felony
- Facilitation of a Class 1 felony
- Fleeing/attempting to elude a law enforcement officer
- Watercraft collision, failure to stop
- Unlawfully administering alcohol or drugs to a minor
- Public sexual indecency to a minor
Class 6 Felony
A Class 6 felony is punishable by a sentence of four months to two years in prison. They include (but are not limited to):
- Attempt of a Class 5 felony
- Solicitation of a Class 4 felony
- Facilitation of a Class 2 or 3 felony
- Violating a restraining order or other court order
- Unauthorized practice of immigration and naturalization law
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Aggravated criminal damage
- Issuing a bad check over $5000
These sentences are all for first-time offenders. The amount of time served for a second offense is frequently doubled or tripled. Some sentences may also become more common in classes. A third-time offender of a Class 5 Felony, for example, could be sentenced to a Class 4 Felony instead.
These sentences are subject to change at the discretion of the sentencing judge. All felony sentences must be served in state prison rather than county jail.
Imprisonment for a Felony
The crime committed determines all felony imprisonments. The felony class determines the minimum and a maximum number of years a person may serve in state prison. Sections 13-604 of the Arizona code contain all exceptions to this law.
After being incarcerated, an individual may not be transferred without the proper paperwork from a sentencing judge.
Felony Expungement in Arizona
Arizona expungement is intended to assist individuals in becoming more productive in their lives following an arrest. However, expungement has its limitations. Most felonies cannot be expunged due to their severity, but in certain circumstances, expungement is possible. Those who have served felony sentences can have their civil rights restored. Firearm privileges may also be restored to felons in federal or state court for an additional $75 fee.
Probation can also be terminated early under certain conditions. The court will consider factors such as the seriousness of the offense, the criminal history, and the potential benefit to society.
Those who have been wrongfully arrested, charged, indicted, or convicted have the option of sealing their records. Sealing records keeps them out of the public eye and only places them in the hands of the appropriate authorities. Most juvenile records, regardless of the crime, can be sealed.