Felony charges in Arizona are grouped into six categories, including class 1 to class 6 felonies. Class 3 felony consists of several crimes, including discharging a firearm at a nonresidential structure, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, burglary in the second degree, transportation of narcotic drugs, and sexual abuse to a person below 15 years, among other crimes. Class 3 felony crimes are severely punished in Arizona and negatively affect your future life. If you face a class 3 felony crime, you want to hire a well-skilled and trained criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charge.
At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, our attorneys are familiar with handling felony charges in Arizona. We start by listening to your case, analyzing the case, gathering evidence, and developing a strong defense strategy to fight the charge. Also, we review any physical evidence and interview the witnesses. Contact us after your arrest over a suspicious class 3 felony offense in Phoenix, AZ.
Understanding Class 3 Felony in Arizona
In Arizona, a class 3 felony is severely punished. The prison sentencing range for the crimes is between twenty-four months and 8.75 years when charged for the first time. For the defendants facing multiple prior felony convictions, the prison term can be 25 years. The sentence for the crime also attracts restitution fees and hefty fines.
Arizona law divides crimes into misdemeanor and felony offenses. The misdemeanor crime carries less severe charges than felony charges. In addition to the heavy fines and the extensive jail terms, a felony conviction can negatively affect your criminal record. The following are the common examples of class 3 felony crimes in Arizona:
1. Aggravated Assault
Aggravated assault is one of Arizona's class 3 felony offenses. According to the law, a regular assault becomes aggravated assault under the following situations:
- When the assault results in severe physical injuries.
- If the offender uses a dangerous or deadly weapon to commit the crime.
- When the assault results in temporary disfigurement.
- When a grown-up commits an assault on children below 15 years.
- When the victim of the crime is a law enforcement officer.
- When the defendant attempts to take the law enforcement officer's weapon during the assault.
The Penalties for Aggravated Assault
Under Arizona laws, you might face a conviction for aggravated assault under class three felony. But your charge will depend on the situation and the nature of the assault. The type of punishment you face will also vary. For example, a first-time offender facing a class three felony will remain behind bars for nine years. A second-time offender facing a class three felony will stay in jail for 16 years. Lastly, when you meet a class three felony, you will remain in prison for 25 years.
The Legal Defenses for Aggravated Assault
Facing a charge for aggravated assault won’t mean you are guilty of the crime. You might use several defenses to fight the charge based on your case's various facts. First, hire a well-trained criminal defense attorney to help you develop strong defenses to challenge the prosecution team’s evidence. The defenses include:
The court must prove you had the intent to commit the crime. So, when the prosecutor fails to do so, your defense attorney may argue you did not commit assault. The court is responsible for showing you acted recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally. Once they fail to demonstrate, the court will drop your charges.
Lack of Knowledge of Status
As mentioned above, aggravated assault occurs when committed against a member of a specific profession. For example, many cases of aggravated assault are against law enforcement officers. So, when you did not know the victim was a police officer, you can have a valid defense to fight the charge.
Sometimes you might be falsely accused of aggravated assault, especially when the crime involves many parties. Usually, a person may lie or accuse another one falsely to avoid being arrested. So, when this is your case, your criminal defense attorney can provide evidence showing you are subject to false accusations. When the court finds you were falsely accused, your charges will be reduced or dropped.
Self-Defense and Defending Others
The defense is valid when the assault occurred as you tried to defend yourself. But you must show you acted with the necessary force when protecting yourself. Alternatively, you can argue you protected another person when the assault occurred. Remember, you will have to prove the same things as you did in the self-defense argument. The only difference will be you were not protecting yourself but another person.
2. Discharging a FireArm in a Nonresidential Building
According to the law, it is illegal to fire a firearm at residential or commercial structures regardless of its people. In addition to these structures, the law prohibits you from firing other structures like a car. The crime is similar to shooting while driving. When you discharge a firearm at a residential building, you will face a class 2 felony. Alternatively, when you discharge a gun at a non-residential building, you will face a class 3 felony.
The Penalties for Discharging Firearm at a Nonresidential Structure
The penalties for the crime will vary based on several factors. For example, the court will consider the number of previous felony convictions. The following are the potential penalties for discharging a firearm at a nonresidential structure:
- If you do not have a prior conviction, you will serve a jail term between 24 months and 8.75 years.
- When you have one felony prior conviction, you will remain behind bars for up to 16 years and three months.
- If you have two prior felony convictions, you will stay in jail for between seven and half years and twenty-five years.
Defenses for Discharging Firearm at a Nonresidential Building
Although the penalties for the crime are harsh, you stand a chance to fight the charges. You want first to discuss your case with your criminal defense attorney. After discussing your situation, the attorney will use the available evidence to build a strong defense to fight the charges. The following are the potential defenses you can use to fight the charges:
You Believed the Firearm was Unloaded
You will be held responsible for the crime when you fired the structure intentionally, meaning you knew the gun was loaded. The prosecutor, however, might have a difficult time proving your intent. Your criminal defense attorney might argue the gun belonged to someone else, and you believed the gun was not loaded.
Lack of Intent
You might argue you accidentally fired at a nonresidential building before the court. Remember, the prosecutor must prove you had the intent to commit the crime. Your criminal defense attorney may also argue you were recklessly holding the gun; you accidentally discharged the firearm at a structure without initial intent. The criminal court judge will reduce the charge to a lesser one.
Constitutional Violations/ Insufficient Evidence
Sometimes the prosecution team may have insufficient evidence to convict you of the crime. For example, your case might fail to have an eyewitness. Also, the case may involve issues where the 4th or 5th amendment rights were violated. If this is your situation, you can use the defense to fight the charge.
The court will not hold you responsible for discharging a firearm at a nonresidential structure when acting in self-defense. The defense will be valid when the following are true:
- You believed you were in imminent danger of sustaining significant bodily injuries
- You thought you required a firearm to defend yourself
- You applied a reasonable force while protecting yourself from the danger
3. 2nd Degree Burglary
You face second-degree burglary charges when you enter or illegally stay in a residential building to commit theft or any other offense inside. As per Arizona laws, the crime is a class 3 felony. The elements of second-degree burglary include:
The initial step in a second-degree burglary is breaking into a structure. Breaking refers to physical force like picking locks or opening an unlocked door. The offender must use force to penetrate the structure. Again, sticking your arm through a window qualifies entry enough to face conviction as per Arizona laws. Accessing the structure must take place without the property owner's consent.
Occupied Building or Structure
As per Arizona laws, breaking someone's private residence is burglary. The building should accommodate people and surroundings like sheds, barns, offices, and store offices. The building or structure must be closed off to the public when breaking in. If someone enters a store to steal something from the shelf, they commit shoplifting, not burglary. However, burglary is considered when someone comes when the store is locked, breaks the lock, and steals an item. You cannot face conviction in a second-degree burglary when you enter abandoned, unoccupied or unused property.
You should intend to commit the crime to face conviction as per the Arizona laws.
Penalties for The Crime
Second-degree burglary is a severe class 3 felony as per Arizona laws. The crime carries the following penalties:
- Fine of up to $150000.
- Imprisonment in jail for eight years and nine months.
- If you have a criminal record, the court may enhance your imprisonment to fifteen years.
Legal Defenses For Second Degree Burglary
The following are the legal defenses that could help you avoid harsh penalties for a guilty verdict for second-degree burglary.
The Police Did Not Dictate Miranda Rights
The arresting officers must inform you of your Miranda Rights during the arrest. When you speak, all the words you say could risk your life as they may be a disadvantage during the trial. You have the right to remain silent and let the inquiry proceed. When the arresting officer doesn't read your Miranda rights, your defense attorney may help to throw out all the evidence against you. The evidence available is inadmissible as it is obtained unlawfully. However, you cannot fight the charges alone. You require an attorney to prove your Miranda rights were not stated.
According to the fourth amendment, all people are protected from illegal searches. Therefore the law enforcement officers should issue a warrant before searching your home. If the officer searches your home without a search warrant, all their evidence is inadmissible in court. You can use surveillance videos and recordings to prove the officers searched your home without a search warrant. You can use an attorney to represent your argument and proof in court to help you beat the charges.
You would answer if you had permission to enter the building or structure where the crime occurred. However, you want to prove you were permitted to enter the Structure. You can establish your entry was authorized by proving you are the legal owner of the property. Again, you can demonstrate that the property owner welcomed you and knew you had no unlawful intentions
4. Aggravated Robbery
You commit aggravated robbery by robbing someone with another person or people who voluntarily help you commit the crime.
The Penalties for Aggravated Robbery
As per Arizona laws, aggravated robbery is a severe class 3 felony. The crime carries the following penalties:
- Fine of up to $150000.
- Imprisonment in jail for eight years and nine months.
If you have a criminal record, the court will enhance your imprisonment to fifteen years in jail. Other factors that affect include drug or alcohol dependence, the Defendant's age, psychiatrist g
history, and whether the victim was injured.
You can apply various legal defenses to have your charges for aggravated robbery reduced or dropped. The effective Defenses your attorney could apply:
The identification process by eyewitnesses may be unreliable. The eyewitness may pick the wrong suspect from a lineup because they resemble you. The accusers identify the perpetrator using the suspect's physical appearance, ski masks, clothing, weight, and height. You cannot face charges for the crime if your encounter with the accuser is not. The judge cannot rely on the proof. You will not face conviction unless the prosecutor proves you are the right offender.
Again, you can prove your innocence by providing an alibi. When you have valid proof that places you in a different location at the time of the crime and witnesses can also testify to your alibi, you may improve your mistaken identity.
Accomplice intentionally assists the perpetrator and encourages them to commit a crime. Under A.R.S 13-1902, to face accusations of being an accomplice, the defendant must know that the main suspect wanted to commit aggravated robbery. You could not face conviction if the accused accomplice were an innocent bystander. The accomplice must have the intent to commit the crime.
Claim of Right
A right defense claim argues that you sincerely believed you were entitled to the property. If you had a reasonable belief you owned the property with no intent to steal, the defense might work for you. The prosecutor will ask you to prove the Property you took belonged to you. For example, you loan your neighbor an item, and they fail to return it. You decide to confront your neighbor and pick up the item with the assistance of your friend; you have a valid defense. You have to note that the defense will work even if you were mistaken or unreasonable in the belief( the property did not belong to you after all)
Arizona judges often hear false accusations in court. It may happen due to varied reasons. For example, the perpetrator wants to hide their guilt and decides to raise a charge against you. Your former friend or spouse may accuse you falsely and create a control situation. However, with a knowledgeable attorney, you can easily beat the charges.
Can the Court Issue Probation for a Class 3 Felony?
Probation is not a punishment for a class 3 felony. The court issues probation for less serious crimes. A class 3 felony carries a prison term of up to ten years and a fine of $10,000. Even though you will not receive probation under class 3 felony, the court sentences you according to the details of your case.
The statute of limitation for class 3 felony cases is seven years, and it applies when the defendant is in Arizona. The statute does not count the period you are out of the state. Speak with your criminal defense attorney to help you build solid defenses if you face a class 3 felony offense.
Contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
A class 3 felony conviction could attract long-term and serious consequences. In addition to the lengthy prison term, the conviction could make it difficult for you to obtain a new job, rent a house, or even possess a gun. You need to seek legal help from a criminal defense attorney to help you fight the charges.
At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, our attorneys are available around the clock. When the police arrest you over a class 3 felony crime in Phoenix, AZ, do not hesitate to call us. We offer unmatched legal services to our clients and fight the felony charge until the court dismisses it or lowers your charge. Contact us at 602-551-8092, and we will start working on your case immediately.