Felonies are dangerous crimes. They often involve the risk of harm, injury, or death to another person. Therefore, Arizona enacted presumptive sentences for felony offenses.
Misdemeanor convictions may not result in any jail time. If the court orders jail time, you could serve up to six months for a misdemeanor offense. However, most felony convictions result in prison sentences.
A criminal sentence refers to the penalties imposed by a court for being convicted of criminal activity. The sentence depends on several factors, including:
For felony sentences in Arizona, the criminal law sets sentence ranges based on the felony class. Each felony class has sentences for mitigated or aggravated factors, minimum and maximum terms, and a presumptive term.
The presumptive sentence is the starting point for sentencing a convicted felon to prison. Proponents of presumptive sentences argue that it ensures people are treated fairly during sentencing instead of being sentenced based on factors unrelated to the criminal case.
Judges begin with the presumptive sentence. Then, they adjust the prison term based on mitigating and aggravating factors.
A mitigated sentence is the minimum prison term for a felony. Mitigating factors could include, but are not limited to:
An aggravated sentence is the longest prison sentence you can receive for a felony. At least two aggravating factors must be present for the judge to increase the sentence to the aggravated term.
Aggravating factors include, but are not limited to:
In addition to presumptive, mitigated, and aggravated sentences, the sentencing range also includes a minimum and maximum sentence. A person’s criminal history (repeat offender), attitude, actions after the crime, and other factors can affect the judge’s decision for a felony sentence.
There are six classes of felonies in Arizona. The classes of felonies include Class 1 through Class 6 felony. Arizona Revised Statute §13-702 provides the sentencing chart for first-time felony offenders.
The statute includes the sentence ranges for all felony classes. Unless a specific sentence is provided by law, the prison sentence for a first felony offense is the presumptive sentence. The sentence range for a first-time felony conviction is:
Mitigated Sentence: 3 years
Minimum Sentence: 4 years
Presumptive Sentence: 5 years
Maximum Sentence: 10 years
Aggravated Sentence: 12.5 years
Examples of Class 2 felonies in Arizona include armed robbery, sex trafficking, first-degree money laundering, manslaughter, theft of $25,000 or more, and sexual assault.
Mitigated Sentence: 2 years
Minimum Sentence: 2.5 years
Presumptive Sentence: 3.5 years
Maximum Sentence: 7 years
Aggravated Sentence: 8.75 years
Examples of Class 3 felonies in Arizona include kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, auto theft, and sexual abuse of a minor under 15 years old.
Mitigated Sentence: 1 year
Minimum Sentence: 1.5 years
Presumptive Sentence: 2.5 years
Maximum Sentence: 3 years
Aggravated Sentence: 3.75 years
Examples of Class 4 felonies in Arizona include robbery, possession of narcotics, aggravated assault, and forgery.
Mitigated Sentence: 6 months
Minimum Sentence: 9 months
Presumptive Sentence: 1.5 years
Maximum Sentence: 2 years
Aggravated Sentence: 2.5 years
Examples of Class 5 felonies in Arizona include aggravated domestic violence, stalking, criminal damages, and credit card theft.
Mitigated Sentence: 3 months
Minimum Sentence: 6 months
Presumptive Sentence: 1 year
Maximum Sentence: 1.5 years
Aggravated Sentence: 2 years
Class 6 felonies are wobbler offenses. Depending on the crime and the factors, the prosecutor could charge the defendant with a felony or a misdemeanor.
Prior felony convictions for repeat offenders can substantially increase the above prison sentences. For example, a person with prior felonies could serve up to 35 years for a Class 2 felony conviction or 25 years for a Class 3 felony conviction.
Furthermore, dangerous offenses have a different sentencing chart. The sentences for dangerous felony offenses are higher than non-dangerous offenses. Also, there are only minimum, maximum, and presumptive sentences.
Convictions of second-degree murder have a presumptive sentence of 16 years. The minimum sentence is 10 years with a maximum of 25 years. Prior felony convictions could result in life in prison.
The above is a summary of some presumptive sentences and other sentences you could receive for a felony conviction. However, many factors impact how much time you serve in prison for a felony offense.
A criminal defense lawyer analyzes the criminal charge to determine the felony class and whether the crime is considered a dangerous or non-dangerous crime. An attorney also examines the factors that could impact your sentence, including mitigating and aggravating factors and your criminal history.
If you are charged with a felony, it is best to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer so that you understand the potential sentence you could receive. That is the first step in deciding how to handle felony criminal charges in Arizona, including whether or not you should accept a plea agreement or go to trial.
If you are arrested for a criminal charge, we are here to help. Call our law firm to schedule your free consultation with criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix. Our legal team fights to clear you of criminal charges and minimize the negative consequences of a criminal conviction.