Generally, any time you or a loved one is charged with a crime in Arizona, it will be labeled as a felony, a misdemeanor, or a petty offense. Felony charges in Arizona cover the most serious of crimes – things like murder, rape, and other dangerous violent illegal activities, for example. Misdemeanor charges, in contrast, are often leveled against people for criminal activities that are considered “lighter” or “not as bad.” And petty offenses are the least serious of crimes, generally punishable by a fine and nothing else.
Because misdemeanors are consider lighter, sometimes when people see that they are “only” being charged with a misdemeanor they will not believe it is necessary to fight the charges or to seek legal counsel on the matter. Or they might think that the cost involved in fighting the charges just isn’t worth it. They’ll just take their punishment and deal with it.
Unfortunately, as any good Arizona criminal attorney will tell you, though, there are no “good” crimes or “easy” punishments when you are talking about your future. Being convicted of even the most basic Arizona misdemeanors comes with fines and court costs, and many charges include some form of probation, restitution, community service, or counseling that will eat up your time and money more than you realize. And what most people don’t realize is that all Arizona misdemeanors do actually have the possibility of jail time, too. Suddenly that “lighter” charge probably isn’t looking so light. Arizona also divides misdemeanors up into different categories, so simply being charged with a misdemeanor doesn’t automatically tell you what kind of penalties you’ll be facing.
Arizona Misdemeanor Classes Have Different Attached Sentences
Merely being aware that all Arizona misdemeanors have the possibility of jail time is important, but it doesn’t begin to tell you everything. Not only are there three different classes of misdemeanors that individual crimes can fall into, each with a unique sentence attached by law, the specific circumstances of your crime can come into play as well. Mitigating factors might mean a lesser sentence, while aggravating factors could mean that you will receive one that is harsher than even the “maximum.”
If that sounds at all confusing, don’t worry – you’re in good company. Most people who aren’t directly involved in the law and legal proceedings can’t make heads or tails of the complex nature of the Arizona sentencing process. That’s why you need the knowledge and experience of an Arizona criminal attorney fighting on your side to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. A good legal expert will walk you through the Arizona laws that pertain to your case and go over the possible penalty ranges you may face.
The first thing that it is important to know when trying to determine what punishment you could be facing for your misdemeanor charge is what class of misdemeanor you are being charged with. Arizona breaks down its misdemeanor charges by class like so:
Class 3 Misdemeanor Charges
The misdemeanors that fall under this class are considered the least serious of misdemeanor charges, and the penalties attached to them reflect that. Someone convicted of a Class 3 Misdemeanor will face up to 1 year of probation time, 30 days of jail time, and a $500 fine for a person (or a $2000 fine for an enterprise).
Class 2 Misdemeanor Charges
Misdemeanor charges that fall under this class are middle-range crimes, and the penalties attached to them also fall right in the middle of the other two classes. If you are convicted of a Class 2 Misdemeanor, you will face up to 2 years of probation time, 4 months of jail time, and a fine of $750 for a person (or a $10,000 fine for an enterprise).
Class 1 Misdemeanor Charges
The most serious class of misdemeanor crimes, Class 1 misdemeanors have the harshest possible penalties that you can receive for a misdemeanor offense. Anyone who is convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor will face the prospect of up to 3 years of probation time, 6 months of jail time, and a fine of $2500 for a person (or a $20,000 fine for an enterprise).
It should be noted that fines for all misdemeanor classes can also include surcharges, and that certain crimes, such as DUI misdemeanors, also come with mandatory minimum charges.