Arizona Felony Classifications and Penalties
Felonies are very serious charges in Arizona. Whereas misdemeanors carry a maximum six-month sentence in a local or county jail, Arizona felony classifications carry a minimum one-year sentence served in a state or federal prison. They also carry stiff financial penalties of up to $150,000 per felony count, with drug convictions potentially causing additional penalties. Depending on various circumstances, including where a crime takes place and its general nature, felonies can either be tried in a state or federal court.
- Felonies committed against the federal government, that occur in more than one state, or that have special circumstances are tried in federal court
- Felonies committed against the state government and that occur only in Arizona are tried in a state court
There are six different classes of felonies ranging from most to least severe:
- Class 1 Felonies
- Class 2 Felonies
- Class 3 Felonies
- Class 4 Felonies
- Class 5 Felonies
- Class 6 Felonies
It is essential to understand that even a class 6 felony is incredibly damaging to your public record. Therefore, if you are facing felony charges of any kind, it is extremely important to retain a competent, aggressive defense attorney who will fight for your legal rights.
Let’s take a look at how the different felony classes are treated in terms of sentencing…
Class 1 Felonies
Class 1 felonies are the most serious of all felony crimes. The two class 1 felonies in Arizona are first and second degree murder. A first-degree murder conviction carries either a life sentence or the death penalty. A second-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of 16 years to life in prison (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-705, 13-706, 13-710, 13-1104, 13-1105).
Class 2 Felonies
The sentencing for a class 2 felony (and every other less severe felony) depends on whether or not aggravated terms are met. Aggravated terms may apply if a crime is committed in an especially cruel or heinous manner, is committed against a person over 65 years of age, includes an accomplice, is perpetrated for monetary gain, just to name a few aggravators. In Arizona, the standard (or presumptive) amount of sentencing time for a class 2 felony is five years in prison, and the aggravated sentence length is 12.5 years in prison (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-701).
Class 3 Felonies
In Arizona, the presumptive term for class 3 felonies is 3.5 years in prison, and the aggravated term is 8.75 years in prison.
Class 4 Felonies
In Arizona, the presumptive term for class 4 felonies is 2.5 years in prison, and the aggravated term is 3.75 years in prison.
Class 4 Felonies
In Arizona, the presumptive term for class 5 felonies is 2 years in prison, and the aggravated term is 2.5 years in prison.
Class 6 Felonies
Being the least serious felony charge, class 6 felonies carry a presumptive term of one year in prison, and an aggravated term of 2 years in prison. Under certain circumstances, a judge can choose to reclassify a class 6 felony as a class 1 misdemeanor, and then levy jail time or fines accordingly.
Additional Arizona Felony Classification Considerations
In Arizona, judges can determine mitigating circumstances, which include taking your age or role into account when deciding sentencing. If mitigating circumstances are present, shorter sentencing terms can apply.
If you have two or more prior felonies on your record, or at least one aggravated felony, Arizona law allows a judge to sentence you to a longer prison term than the current felony charge mandates (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-703, 13-704, 13-706).
For most felonies, Arizona has a seven-year statute of limitations; meaning that prosecution must begin within seven years of the date the state became aware a crime was committed. However, there is no statute of limitations for very severe felonies like murder.
Trust Laboy Law With Your Felony Defense in Arizona
The effects of a felony conviction go far beyond prison time and upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. They also create a permanent record that follows someone throughout the entirety of his or her life. Laboy Law provides our clients with focused legal assistance to help defend them against the most serious felony charges in Arizona. Our dedicated team of legal professionals will diligently fight to uphold and defend your rights. We will also make sure that you receive the benefit of every possible legal strategy and defense option within the boundaries of the law. If you would like to discuss your need for felony defense in Arizona with us, please contact us today for a free, private consultation at 602-777-3368.