Wondering what is a misdemeanor in Phoenix, Arizona? Phoenix criminal lawyer Craig Orent explains what you need to know in this article.
In Arizona, a misdemeanor is any crime for which triggers a jail term of up to six months. Misdemeanors are not the most serious type of crime, but they are also not the least serious. The most serious crime is a felony, and the least serious is a petty offense.
Now that you know about misdemeanors in Phoenix (a crime punishable by up to six months in jail), you are probably wondering how a misdemeanor differs from other types of offenses.
A felony in Arizona is any crime for which you can be sentenced to prison. Even the least serious felony has a presumptive sentence of one year in prison and a maximum of 1.5 years in prison. Of course, there are different levels of felonies, and the presumptive, maximum, and minimum sentences increase greatly for more serious felonies.
The least serious type of crime is the petty offense. A petty offense is any crime for which the maximum penalty is a fine. No jail time is on the table for a petty offense. The maximum fine for a petty offense is $300.
A criminal complaint or citation should tell you whether you are charged with a petty offense, misdemeanor, or felony. If you are confused about your charges, contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case.
In Arizona, there are three different levels of misdemeanor. Each level carries different maximum penalties if convicted. The penalty can be a jail sentence, a fine, a probationary sentence, or some combination of those.
The three classifications of misdemeanors are as follows:
Class 1 Misdemeanor: 6 months jail max
Class 2 Misdemeanor: 4 months jail max
Class 3 Misdemeanor: 30 days jail max
Sometimes a fine is imposed in addition to the jail sentence. Other times your lawyer may be able to fight for a fine-only sentence. A fine-only sentence is a great outcome if you are convicted of a misdemeanor. Sometimes a fine is not realistic, it depends on the allegations against you. Victimless crimes are far more likely to result in a fine-only disposition than a crime with a victim.
The maximum fines for a misdemeanor are:
Class 1 Misdemeanor: $2,500 max
Class 2 Misdemeanor: $750 max
Class 3 Misdemeanor: $500 max
Earlier we mentioned the possibility of probation as part of a misdemeanor sentence. Sometimes it is in your best interest to try to get probation to avoid jail time after a conviction. However, probation is not for everyone. For some, the difficult conditions may just set them up for failure. You should work closely with your lawyer to set goals for a sentencing hearing or possible plea negotiation.
The maximum possible probation terms for a misdemeanor in Arizona are:
Class 1 Misdemeanor: 3 years probation max
Class 2 Misdemeanor: 2 years probation max
Class 3 Misdemeanor: 1 year probation max
Some other penalties for a misdemeanor conviction could include community service, payment of restitution to the victim and court ordered counseling or classes.
The penalties for a misdemeanor conviction can be very intimidating and scary. Hiring an experienced and aggressive misdemeanor lawyer can help reduce the chances of serving jail time. Even if you are convicted, a good defense lawyer can fight for a more lenient sentence.
There are many different misdemeanor crimes in Phoenix.
Some common misdemeanor charges include:
Theft / shoplifting
Possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia
Driving on a suspended license
Sometimes a successful motion hearing will force the prosecution to drop the charges against you. Other times, your lawyer may be able to get charges reduced if you complete a treatment program, pay restitution quickly, or complete community service.
The availability of creative resolutions such as these varies greatly from case to case. It depends on your criminal record, the severity of the allegations, and the prosecutor in charge of the case. You should never try to negotiate your case yourself. Make sure you hire Phoenix criminal defense lawyers who know the system inside and out.
Every misdemeanor case is unique, so your criminal defense attorney will need to carefully evaluate your case to determine what defense is appropriate. There are some defenses that are commonly used to defend against misdemeanor charges.
Fighting to suppress incriminating statements due to Miranda violations
Fighting to suppress evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment
Cross-examining witnesses to expose inconsistencies or lies
Establishing your innocence by discovering exculpatory evidence
Negotiating for a reduction in charges
Showing that the state cannot meet its burden of proof for every element
There are many other defenses not listed here, these are just some of the common case strategies. Of course, the allegations against you may make other defenses available as well.
We hope that this answered your question “what is a misdemeanor in Phoenix, Arizona? Contact a criminal defense lawyer for help with your case.