July 19, 2019

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Arizona Criminal Laws – Misdemeanors, Felonies and Wrongful Convictions

Phoenix Law Firms

Criminal charges are a serious matter no matter where you are, and especially serious in Arizona. Arizona is known for its very stiff criminal penalties. If convicted, which includes accepting a plea deal, the consequences can follow you for the rest of your life affecting your career, your ability to rent a home or secure a loan, and much more. If you have been charged with a crime, you have rights. You should never plead guilty to a criminal charge without talking to a criminal defense attorney first. If you have been wrongly convicted, it may be possible to have your conviction overturned.

Arizona Misdemeanor

There are three classes of misdemeanor in Arizona, with a Class 1 being the most serious. Penalties for Arizona misdemeanors are as follows:

  • Class 3 – up to 30 days in jail and up to $500 fine
  • Class 2 – up to four months in jail and up to $750 fine
  • Class 1 – up to six months in jail and up to $2,500 fine

When you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may only be issued a citation, rather than being arrested, but this does not mean that you will not go to jail if you are convicted. A misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, but can still have serious consequences. You also need to know that if you are initially charged with a misdemeanor, the charge may later be elevated to a felony, depending on the circumstances in your case.

Conviction of a misdemeanor, and pleading guilty which is the equivalent of conviction on your record, can set you up for more serious legal problems if you are arrested for another crime later in life, whether you are guilty or not. Once you have that conviction on your record, you will be treated more harshly for subsequent charges.

Arizona Felony

Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanors and carry the potential of prison time. There are six classes of felony, with a Class 1 being the most serious. Arizona is a death penalty state. Possible prison time for Arizona felonies is as follows:

  • Class 6 – one year
  • Class 5 – one year, six months
  • Class 4 – two years, six months
  • Class 3 – three years, six months
  • Class 2 – five years
  • Class 1 – 25 years to life, or death in some cases

Wrongful Conviction

Possibly the most anguishing outcome for a defendant in a criminal case, and for their loved ones, is a wrongful conviction. If you have been wrongfully convicted, do not give up hope. There are strategies for having your conviction overturned. A wrongful conviction may be overturned due to:

  • Police misconduct
  • Prosecutorial misconduct
  • Inadequate legal representation
  • Faulty eyewitness testimony
  • Unreliable informant
  • False or illegal confession