Arizona Misdemeanors

Understanding Arizona Misdemeanor Classes

When it comes to crime, there are generally different levels of charges you hear about. Most of the time, we hear the words, felony, and misdemeanor, thrown around, but how often do we really think about what they mean?

Do you even know the difference?

Felony charges are more severe than misdemeanors, but that does not mean anyone who is facing a misdemeanor should not take it seriously. These charges come with serious consequences, including jail time, fines, a criminal record, and a ruined reputation. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, please seek help from an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney to help you through this process.

The Different Classes Of Misdemeanors

In Arizona, the state distinguishes between three classes of misdemeanors.

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor
    • Maximum of 6 months in jail
    • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor
    • Maximum of 4 months in jail
    • Up to $750 in fines
  • Class 3 Misdemeanor
    • Maximum of 30 days in jail
    • Up to $500 in fines

While those sentencing guidelines seem straightforward, there are complexities. Those who have previously been convicted of misdemeanors, they can be sentenced to a higher level of misdemeanor. So, a person charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor charge could find that upgraded if they have a prior misdemeanor conviction.

First-Time Offenders

Though there is a range of jail time for misdemeanor offenses, first-time offenders typically receive lighter sentences. There are even diversion programs available for first-time offenders that can reduce penalties.

Some Common Misdemeanors

There is a wide range of misdemeanor offenses in Arizona. Here are some examples, but please know that this is not a complete list. Always speak to an attorney when making decisions about your particular case.

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor Examples
    • DUI
    • Shoplifting
    • Possession of marijuana
    • Domestic violence
    • Assault that causes injury
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor Examples
    • Assault, including the threat of injury
    • Criminal trespass in the second degree
    • Reckless driving
  • Class 3 Misdemeanor Examples
    • Criminal speeding
    • Loitering
    • Failure to appear
    • Criminal trespass in the third degree
    • Simple assault

Pleading Guilty

Under Arizona law, crimes are classified as felonies (manslaughter, murder, rape, arson, and others) or misdemeanors (driving under the influence, trespassing, minor in possession, and others). The court’s decision can be influenced by whether or not a person pleads guilty in court.

If the individual is facing a fine, pleading guilty or no contest in court will allow the judge to consider the plea. If he or she is facing incarceration, the judge will almost certainly reject the guilty plea and rule “not guilty.” Payments for fines can be made immediately following the court hearing or a payment plan can be established. A criminal conviction will then be kept on the individual’s record for the rest of his or her life.

Misdemeanor Sentencing

Misdemeanor offenses can result in a term of imprisonment in a county jail. Imprisonment may be served elsewhere under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections at times. Class 1 misdemeanors in Arizona carry a maximum prison sentence of six months. A Class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum prison sentence of four months. A Class 3 misdemeanor, the least serious, carries a maximum jail sentence of thirty days.

Under certain circumstances, the court may rule that an individual is not eligible for early release and must serve the entire sentence in jail.

Misdemeanor Fines

Instead of a jail sentence, an individual guilty of a misdemeanor may be charged with a fine.

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor fine can be as much as two thousand five hundred dollars, but not more.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanors can have a fine up to seven hundred fifty dollars.
  • Class 3 Misdemeanors can have a fine up to but no more than five hundred dollars. Petty offenses are the least severe and can have fines up to three hundred dollars.

A judge can order a person to pay a fine as well as serve time in jail for a misdemeanor. This is not uncommon, and it can apply to multiple misdemeanors at the same time, as well as previous misdemeanors.

Lifelong Consequences

Thinking of just taking a plea for a misdemeanor? Find out if you can get the charge dismissed or whether you are eligible for a diversion program first. By accepting a guilty plea, you will have a permanent mark on your criminal record. This will follow you around when you are looking for employment or when you want to attend school. If you have a charge related to DUI, speeding, or reckless driving on your record, you may not be able to take a job that requires you to operate company vehicles.

They can affect any additional offenses you have. Do you remember when we said above that those with previous misdemeanors can face more serious charges with additional misdemeanors? You do not want something that can be taken care of now to come back and haunt you in the future.

Arizona Misdemeanor Expungement

Expungement laws are designed to assist deserving individuals in becoming more productive members of society. When a judgment is overturned, a person can legally state that he or she never committed the crime in question. Some cases cannot be expunged, but in the case of felonies, civil rights and the right to own a firearm may be restored.

Those who were wrongfully arrested may have their records sealed by the court, even if they were never convicted of a crime. In these types of cases, records can also be cleared. This will prevent the arrest from taking place.

Under Arizona law, some people are eligible to have their juvenile records expunged. This is contingent on a referral for no further action, placement in community programs, or delinquency adjudication.

What Happens Now?

There are many things to take into consideration if you have been charged with a misdemeanor offense. It can be tempting to try to handle it yourself or to rely on a public defender, but that is not the best route. A qualified and experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney will be able to help you more than you think.

Your attorney is your advocate and understands the best ways to get your charges reduced or thrown out. Every aspect of your case needs to be examined by someone who understands the charges against you.

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