People often underestimate the power of misdemeanor convictions and let small arrests slide without taking the time to fight the offense in court. It is important to keep in mind that misdemeanor offenses in Arizona carry stiff penalties much like felonies do, and several misdemeanors can, in turn, lead to a felony conviction. If you have recently been arrested for a misdemeanor offense and are arrested for the same offense only 2 weeks later, you may be facing felony charges depending on the crime. It is therefore important to contact an experienced Phoenix misdemeanor lawyer rather than attempt to represent yourself in order to ensure you do not receive a criminal conviction for charges that could easily be taken off your record.
Misdemeanor crimes include a wide range of offenses throughout the state of Arizona. Arizona classifies misdemeanors into “classes.” A Class 1 misdemeanor is the most severe, while Class 3 is the least severe. Misdemeanor charges are typically brought in justice courts or municipal courts which are slightly different from courts where felony charges are brought. Additionally, most misdemeanor cases are brought to a judge alone rather than heard in front of a jury.
The punishment ranges for misdemeanors include the following:
|Type of Misdeameanor||Punishment||Fines|
|Class 1 Misdemeanor||Up to 6 months in jail||Up to $2,500|
|Class 2 Misdemeanor||Up to 4 months in jail||Up to $750|
|Class 3 Misdemeanor||Up to 30 days in jail||Up to $500|
The difference between a Class 2 and Class 1 misdemeanor involves quite a heightened fine as well as an extended jail stay. In addition to each fine amount, keep in mind that you will also have to pay court costs and attorney’s fees. In the end, it can be quite pricey to bring a misdemeanor charge to court, but it is still drastically less severe than the cost of defending a felony arrest in court.
Many people mistakenly assume that a misdemeanor charge is a minor thing, but the reality is that they can lead to severe legal penalties up to, and including, significant jail time. Additionally, a record of a misdemeanor charge can lead to increased penalties for future charges. It’s vital to find reliable legal representation to fight any type of misdemeanor charge, no matter how small, to prevent them from going on your criminal record and potentially coming back to haunt you in a future case.
This list is not inclusive, and misdemeanor crimes occur in a number of circumstances and involve a number of different fact patterns. Misdemeanor offenses can often occur in situations in which you are not aware that a crime was committed. An experienced Phoenix misdemeanor lawyer can assist you in tackling the language of the Arizona statute and formulating a defense strategy that will work for your unique case.
If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor offense in Arizona, do not wait until the last minute to contact a Phoenix misdemeanor lawyer. Misdemeanor charges may seem like relatively small offenses but can lead to debilitating criminal charges which will remain on your record for the rest of your life. Phoenix criminal defense attorney Craig Orent, of the Orent Law Offices, has over 25 years of experience in handling misdemeanor claims. He understands that most people who commit misdemeanor offenses may be frightened about their future and will work hard to ensure their criminal record is not damaged.
You can’t erase your criminal past in Arizona, but you can correct mistakes. If, for instance, the courts wrongfully charged you with a crime you didn’t commit, you can request a correction clearing you of all charges. You will have to prove that the courts wrongfully charged you, either through lack of evidence, a clerical error, the wrong person, or some other means.
Then, you will have to ask the Arizona Superior Court to add a note on your criminal record saying the courts cleared you of the charges. Note that this is not possible if the courts convicted you of the crime; only if the prosecution charged you with one. If there are other mistakes on your criminal record, request a Record Review Packet and submit a form asking the Arizona Department of Public Safety for a correction.
You will need to prove that a mistake exists and that corrections are necessary before the Arizona Department of Public Safety will accept your changes and update your record. Arizona Code Section 13-907-01 also permits the courts to vacate a prostitution conviction that arose because of human trafficking. A “vacated” conviction generally gives the individual the right to say that the arrest and conviction never happened.
“Expunge” means to erase or seal a criminal record. In most states, a person with a criminal conviction can qualify for record expungement, after which it will be as if the individual didn’t commit the crime in many ways. For example, the crime will not show up on most background checks. Unfortunately for Arizona convicted criminals, the state’s strict laws do not permit record expungement. Arizona Administrative Code Section R13-1-102 holds that a crime must remain on a convicted person’s record until the age of 99, even after completing probation.
Despite the inability to achieve true expungement, it is possible to enjoy some of the benefits of expungement in Arizona. You must request the courts to “set aside” your criminal conviction under Arizona law. The courts may set aside a misdemeanor or a felony in certain circumstances. This action won’t erase or remove the conviction from your record, but it can show investigators or employers you satisfied the terms of the sentence. Once you complete probation and all other sentencing requirements, you may ask the courts to set aside your conviction.
When an employer, landlord, or other party access your criminal records, he or she will see the set-aside order and know that you fulfilled your probation, that the court “vacated” your conviction, and that they dismissed the charges against you. This can do almost as much as record expungement. The only crimes ineligible for this service in Arizona are dangerous offenses, sex offender registry crimes, sexually-motivated crimes, certain driving offenses, and crimes against victims under the age of 15.
If you’re curious about whether you have the right to request a “set aside” of a misdemeanor conviction in Arizona, contact our Phoenix misdemeanor lawyers today. We have extensive experience handling criminal cases and their aftermath in Arizona. We want to help our clients achieve better lives and brighter futures, long after the initial criminal conviction. An experienced Phoenix misdemeanor lawyer can help you explore record expungement and Arizona’s equivalents, as well as file the appropriate documents to help clear or set aside your record.
With our help, you can regain your life and move on – almost as if the misdemeanor conviction had never happened. It may be easier to get a job, find housing, and build relationships after the courts set aside your conviction. If you’ve fulfilled the conditions of your probation and believe you qualify for the setting aside of your record, call us to discuss your options at (480) 656-7301.