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Class 1 Misdemeanor Crimes

Class 1 misdemeanors are considered the most serious misdemeanor crimes in Arizona, carrying heavy penalties, lengthy jail terms, and other significant repercussions. Understanding the complexities of these criminal charges and their potential impact on your life is crucial, even if they are not as severe as Arizona felonies.

At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, our criminal defense lawyers understand the fear and uncertainty that come with being charged with a crime, especially when those allegations are related to Arizona's Class 1 misdemeanors. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of Class 1 misdemeanors. We will discuss the specific types of crimes that fall under this category, the corresponding punishments, and the significant benefits of hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer to bolster your case.

Understanding Arizona's Class 1 Misdemeanors

Class 1 misdemeanor crimes are the most serious kind of Arizona misdemeanor offenses. Even though Class 1 misdemeanors don't have the same legal weight as felonies, it still implies that you could face severe penalties and shouldn't take the severity of the matter lightly. Class 1 misdemeanor crimes are considered the most severe and are subject to the harshest penalties.

You could be at risk of incurring hefty fines, jail time, or other punishments, such as license revocation.  Maximum penalties for class 1 misdemeanors include $2,500 in addition to surcharges, up to six months behind bars, and no more than three years of probation (five years for driving under the influence).

Examples of Class 1 Misdemeanors

Class 1 misdemeanor covers a wide range of offenses. The lists below give some examples of class 1 misdemeanor crimes.

Class 1 Misdemeanors Involving Sex Crimes

  • Indecent contact.
  • Sexual indecency while in public.

Class 1 Misdemeanor Involving Fraud Crimes

  • Using a forged check to make a payment.
  • False reporting.
  • Impersonating a public official.

Class 1 Misdemeanor Crimes Involving Property

  • Throwing trash on state property, not having a state incorporation.
  • Trespassing.
  • Polluting and littering public property.

Class 1 Driving-Related Misdemeanors

  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Driving on a suspended driver's license.
  • Using a forged driver's license.
  • Aggressive driving.
  • Racing on a highway.

Miscellaneous Class 1 Misdemeanor

  • Various animal cruelty offenses.
  • Disorderly behavior.
  • Burning property that's worth $100 or below.
  • Intentionally injuring someone else physically.
  • Improper use of weapons or explosives.
  • Prostitution.
  • Loitering on school grounds.
  • Illegal gathering.
  • Intimidating someone else over the phone.

To avoid a significant criminal conviction, those suspected of these offenses should seriously consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer in Arizona.

Types of Arizona Crimes

It is essential to understand the numerous types of crimes that can be committed in Arizona. You could be charged with felonies, misdemeanors, or petty crimes.

Petty Crimes

The least severe Arizona violations are classified as petty crimes. Petty offenses usually carry light punishments because they are minor. No petty offense bears the risk of serving time behind bars. The court's most severe penalty will be a substantial fine.

Most Arizona misdemeanor crimes do not end in trial. Most individuals are only required to appear in municipal court once. Your attorney can resolve your matter without your attendance.

Misdemeanor Crimes

A misdemeanor is the second-most serious Arizona crime you can commit. These violations fall between petty crimes and felony crimes. There are subcategories based on the severity of the crime. Misdemeanors are divided into subcategories, so the punishments differ according to the category.

All misdemeanor offenses, including a class 1 misdemeanor, can result in imprisonment as a form of punishment. Misdemeanors, including class 1 misdemeanors, have the potential to result in jail time. Convictions for offenses like DUI can come with mandatory minimums or additional punishments. 

A misdemeanor conviction could occasionally affect your fingerprint clearance card or driver's license. At times, misdemeanors can be resolved without a court hearing, but occasionally one will be required. Depending on the crime, misdemeanors can be tried by jury or bench (or magistrate). Working with your defense lawyer will be necessary to get ready for every situation.

Felony Crimes

Arizona felonies carry the most severe penalties, encompassing offenses like child abuse, rape, and murder. All felonies are punishable by a prison term. Upon being proven guilty of these offenses, some offenders are sentenced to life in prison. Similar to misdemeanors, felonies are also divided into smaller categories. Class 1 crimes are the most serious, while class 6 felonies are considered the least serious.

The Arizona Court Process for Misdemeanor Charges

The Arizona court process for misdemeanor hearings can last anywhere from three to six months. Keep in mind that every misdemeanor lawsuit is unique, meaning the duration of your case could vary. Therefore, hiring an attorney versed in the Arizona court system is essential.

If you're facing charges for a misdemeanor crime, you have to show up in court. Your case could be dismissed, you could get a plea agreement, or you could be found guilty.


The court will withdraw the misdemeanor charges in this case. This implies that there won't be any more trials or hearings and that the judicial system will drop the allegations from your file.

Plea Deals

If you accept a plea bargain in court, you may be compelled to participate in a program, pay substantial fines, or perform community service. However, upon fulfilling these conditions, you will often become eligible to seek a pardon.


If you're found guilty of an Arizona misdemeanor crime, you could be sentenced to prison, fined, compelled to take part in community service, or enrolled in a program. You will typically have the opportunity to petition for a pardon following the fulfillment of these conditions.

Penalties for a Class 1 Misdemeanor Conviction

Class 1 misdemeanor convictions attract significant penalties, usually more severe than the defendant is prepared for. These crimes do not carry a prison sentence, although they could nonetheless result in a jail sentence. Judges have the authority to impose maximum punishments contingent on the specifics surrounding the offense, although they may not always issue mandatory minimum terms.

First-time Class 1 misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of $2,500 in addition to surcharges, as well as a possible sentence of 6 months behind bars. The court can alternatively decide to give the offender a punishment of no more than three years in probation instead of a jail term. However, if there has previously been a conviction, issues become a little more difficult.

A prior conviction could result in a sentence as harsh as 2 years behind bars and fines as high as $150,000. Although the highest possible penalties are established, a magistrate's final verdict regarding your incarceration time and fine could depend on the specifics of the current offense as well as any prior convictions on your record.

Surcharges for Misdemeanor Fines

In addition to the standard fine that's permitted for your offense, you will most likely also have to shell out a surcharge if you've been fined for a Class 1 misdemeanor. The total amount of the various fees raises the penalty amount by 78%. However, if you can demonstrate that paying the entire amount could lead to financial strain for you or your loved ones, the magistrate may lower the amount of the surcharges and fine.

Other Possible Consequences

Aside from the regular penalties such as incarceration and paying fines, a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction can result in a slew of other consequences that have a substantial impact on a person's day-to-day life. One of the most lasting effects of a misdemeanor conviction is the impression it leaves on your record.

This could affect your future interactions with the legal system, housing applications, and job opportunities. Additional penalties, including license suspension or the installation of an ignition interlock device, could be imposed in cases involving violations like driving under the influence.

The consequences of a misdemeanor conviction may extend beyond these immediate actions. For example, the magistrate could impose unsupervised probation with frequent check-ins and strict adherence to guidelines. In addition, community service orders can be issued, requiring the defendant to devote a significant amount of time to the task.

Other consequences could include home detention, restitution payments, alcohol and/or drug treatment, and more. Even if they are not monetary, these consequences can nonetheless be demanding and severely limit the defendant's freedom.

The collateral repercussions of a conviction should also be considered. Class 1 misdemeanor convictions can result in issues like restricted access to firearms, losing your professional license, child custody loss, and more, depending on the specifics of the case.

Other Misdemeanors Under Arizona Law

There are three categories of Arizona misdemeanor crimes, that is

  • Class 1 misdemeanor crimes.
  • Class 2 misdemeanor crimes.
  • Class 3 misdemeanor crimes.

Here is a quick rundown of Arizona's Class 2 and Class 3 misdemeanors.

Class 2 Misdemeanor

Arizona's class 2 misdemeanor crimes are less severe than class 1 misdemeanors, but they nonetheless have significant consequences. Class 2 misdemeanors often comprise offenses including hit-and-runs, public nuisance crimes, reckless driving, and second-degree criminal trespassing.

If found guilty of these crimes, you could be subject to probation, fines, and jail time. The consequences should not be taken lightly, even though they may not be as severe as those associated with Class 1 misdemeanors.

Class 3 Misdemeanor

The least serious kinds of misdemeanor crimes in Arizona's legal system are classified as class 3 misdemeanor crimes. Despite their lesser categorization, they can nonetheless result in harsh punishments such as jail time, fines, and probation.

These offenses include third-degree criminal trespassing, loitering, driving too fast, and giving misleading information to a law enforcement officer.

Can Arizona Misdemeanors Be Expunged?

Although Arizona doesn't offer expungement, it can allow the "setting aside" of a criminal record. A conviction can be overturned, which means that the verdict of guilt is nullified and an order discharging the allegations is issued. This offers some relief, even though it doesn't eliminate the record, as an expungement does in several other jurisdictions.

Arizona misdemeanor crimes can be set aside, but there are requirements for qualifying that should be taken into account. Not all misdemeanors are eligible to be set aside, particularly if there are still conditions to be fulfilled, such as paying fines or finishing probation. Certain specific offenses are also ineligible, including those involving the use of lethal weapons, the infliction of substantial physical harm, and those involving minors in sexual offenses.

The Statute of Limitations for Class 1 Misdemeanors

The period after an offense is committed within which prosecutors can file charges against you is known as the statute of limitations. Understanding the class 1 misdemeanor statute of limitations will help determine if your case will proceed.

In Arizona, a class 1 misdemeanor typically has a one-year statute of limitations from the initial occurrence of the offense. You should have plenty of time available to collaborate with your defense lawyer during this period. However, there are situations when the statute of limitations can be extended, such as when it comes to A.R.S. 28-672, causing death by engaging in a civil traffic offense.

The prosecution can opt to file the case as a felony or a misdemeanor at their discretion.  Drug paraphernalia, for instance, is often tried as a misdemeanor crime.

Will Prior Convictions Affect the Penalties for Class 1 Misdemeanors?

Class 1 misdemeanors can carry harsh punishments. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that they are capable of affecting your well-being from which it may require a significant amount of time for you to recover.

Even in situations where defendants are found guilty of class 1 misdemeanors, they are not always subjected to such severe punishments. More factors might come into play. The criminal record of an individual is one of those variables.

You have a better chance of receiving leniency from the magistrate if you had no criminal history before being convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor. The judge could opt to include probation and community service with a jail term.

In essence, you're being given another chance since you have not previously demonstrated a pattern of illegal behavior. Now, just because the judge has shown some leniency doesn't mean you're out of trouble just yet. You can get the same punishment you would have gotten before if you don't follow the conditions of your probation. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that it was a minor error and that you have moved on.

Can Class 1 Misdemeanors Be Elevated?

When someone has a history of committing multiple misdemeanor crimes, they could end up being charged with a felony crime such as aggravated domestic violence. In some cases, such as with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), a person's obligatory minimum sentence can be increased if they have previous convictions for other misdemeanors.

Is It Possible To Get Pardoned For A Class 1 Misdemeanor?

If you're found guilty of committing an Arizona misdemeanor crime, you will be allowed to request a pardon after satisfying the necessary conditions. On the other hand, you'll not be eligible to get a pardon if you're found guilty. The following requirements have to be met to qualify for a pardon:

  • Complete your community service.
  • Pay hefty fines.
  • Finish the program.

The successful completion of the aforementioned conditions is necessary for you to be granted a pardon. On the other hand, if you're found guilty of the crime, your application for a pardon is likely to be denied.

What Can I Expect If the Requirements Are Not Fulfilled?

If you're found guilty of a misdemeanor crime, you'll either have to pay a fine, perform community service, or enroll in a program. Generally speaking, you won't be able to request a pardon. However, if you fail to meet the demands, you could be subjected to the same consequences. Essentially, this means that you could still be subject to penalties, community service, or enroll in a court-ordered program.

How an Arizona Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Assist With Misdemeanor Charges

Having a seasoned Phoenix criminal defense lawyer on your team can significantly change the course of your case, even though facing Arizona misdemeanor allegations can be a frightening experience. An experienced attorney can work to come up with a solid legal plan while taking into account many legal factors, such as prospective defenses and nuances such as the statute of limitations.

The fact that a criminal defense attorney might be able to use this knowledge to have allegations dropped or reduced emphasizes the importance of having strong legal representation when navigating the complexities of Arizona's criminal court system.

Find A Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

Even a minor criminal conviction can have a long-lasting negative impact on your life. If you are required to serve jail time, you may risk losing your residence and job. If you encounter legal issues again, a criminal conviction may lead to even more severe penalties. Therefore, you should consult with a knowledgeable Arizona criminal attorney if you or a loved one has been accused of a misdemeanor in Phoenix.

At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we specialize in defending individuals accused of misdemeanors. If you find yourself in need of legal assistance, don't hesitate to call us at 602-551-8092. Our dedicated team will work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure that you receive the best possible results.

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