No matter what the actual charges are, if you or a loved one is arrested for a crime in Arizona, it’s serious business. Chances are, it will affect your work, your family – your entire future. At the very least, you’ll likely be facing fines, court costs, and probation of some sort, and the complexities of the Arizona legal system only make figuring out what’s going on that much more difficult. For your best chance at receiving a positive outcome, you need an experience Arizona criminal attorney fighting for your rights as early on in the process as possible. Good legal experts with experience trying cases like yours know just what to look for to lessen the charges against their clients and sometimes even get them dropped altogether.
Having a good Arizona criminal lawyer is even more important when you are facing an Arizona felony. Felonies in Arizona have far harsher penalties attached to them than misdemeanors, and all of them include the possibility of a minimum sentence in prison.
Different Arizona Felonies Have Different Attached Sentences
Knowing that a minimum prison sentence is always attached to an Arizona felony is very useful, but it still leaves a lot unanswered. Because all crimes are different and can include a host of mitigating factors, it can be incredibly difficult to know just what kind of penalties you’ll be facing for any particular crime.
A chart is published by the Arizona Supreme Court outlining the penalties for felony convictions in the state, supposedly to make it clear to Arizona citizens how various crimes are punished. But because they still use complicated graphs and jargon throughout the document, it’s almost impossible for a normal person who isn’t well-versed in Arizona law to understand it.
In order to understand – even in general – what kind of sentence will be imposed on a particular crime, there are a number of important things you need to know. The first thing to know is the class of felony. Arizona has six classes of felonies, with a Class 1 felony being the most serious (reserved for murders and other serious violent crimes) and a Class 6 felony being the least serious.
Other important terms to know are “mitigating factors” and “aggravating factors.” Even though every felony class has a minimum and maximum sentence time attached to it, the law allows for some leeway with these terms in either direction. What this means is that it is possible to get less than the “minimum” sentence if there are mitigating factors, or more than the “maximum” in the event of aggravating factors. And in the case of a first time offense, it is also possible that the judge won’t send the offender to prison at all, but rather give them a sentence of probation.
Arizona Felony Sentencing by Class
The 2008 Arizona Felony Sentencing Chart describes sentencing for the various felony classes in the following way:
Class 6 Felony
- Mitigated term – 1/3 of a year, or about four months
- Minimum term – half a year
- Presumptive or “average” term – 1 year
- Maximum term – 1 ½ years
- Aggravated term – 2 years
Class 5 Felony
- Mitigated term – half a year
- Minimum term – ¾ of a year, or about 9 months
- Presumptive or “average” term – 1 ½ years
- Maximum term – 2 years
- Aggravated term – 2 ½ years
Class 4 Felony
- Mitigated term – 1 year
- Minimum term – 1 ½ years
- Presumptive or “average” term – 2 ½ years
- Maximum term – 3 years
- Aggravated term – 3 ¾ years
Class 3 Felony
- Mitigated term – 2 years
- Minimum term – 2 ½ years
- Presumptive or “average” term – 3 ½ years
- Maximum term – 7 years
- Aggravated term – 8 ¾ years
Class 2 Felony
- Mitigated term – 3 years
- Minimum term – 4 years
- Presumptive or “average” term – 5 years
- Maximum term – 10 years
- Aggravated term – 12 ½ years
Sentencing for Class 1 felonies is on an entirely different chart, and the penalties are far more severe than even the worst of these. Some Class 1 Arizona felonies can even be punished by the death penalty.
It’s never a good idea to roll the dice with your future when potential prison time is involved. If you or a loved one is facing an Arizona felony of any Class, contact an experienced Arizona criminal attorney today to start fighting for your rights.