In Arizona, felony crimes carry a potential penalty of one or more years in jail. Apart from the jail terms, you will also pay heavy fines alongside other sentences. The law classifies felony sentences into six classes, with class one having the most severe offenses while class six has the least serious felony crimes. However, the felony classes are not the only factors determining the sentence you will receive if you face conviction.
Other factors may reduce or increase your sentence, including the facts surrounding the case and your criminal records. But, the law still allows you to fight for the reduction of the sentence or charge through the legal system of your criminal defense attorney. Remember, experienced criminal defense attorneys could help achieve the best case outcomes.
Since any felony conviction may attract serious and long-term consequences, our attorneys at Phoenix Criminal Attorney are ready to help you fight for the reduction of your sentence. In addition, the attorneys are well versed with felony charges and will help negotiate with the court for a favorable plea bargain and obtain the best outcomes of the case. Thus when you face a felony conviction in or around Phoenix, AZ, call our attorneys right away.
What is Felony Sentencing?
Felony crimes carry the harshest penalties in Arizona. If you face felony conviction in phoenix, the court may determine you pay a fine not exceeding $150,000 and serve a jail term. Also, if it’s a drug crime, the judge may impose extra fines. Also, the state may impose surcharges for the criminal fines, thus increasing the fine by around 78%. But the jury may reduce the surcharges and the fine when the court declares you as unable to pay the total amount.
Lastly, all defendants in Phoenix facing felony convictions will face additional charges referred to as “assessments.” The assessments are usually small if they apply to all offenses (ranging between $2 and $20). However, when the charges apply to certain crimes, they range from $50 for offenses like stalking and $500 for dangerous offenses against kids or sexual assaults.
The Classification of Felonies in Phoenix
According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-601, the state groups the felony crimes into six classes. The class one felonies contain severe crimes like homicide offenses. Alternatively, class six felonies involve the least serious crimes. However, under a few cases and with the legal help of an aggressive criminal defense attorney, the judge may agree to charge a class six felony offense as a misdemeanor.
Remember, every felony charge is unique based on the facts surrounding the case. Also, the felonies in phoenix have enhancement categories whereby the sentence is increased. These groups include repetitive offenders and dangerous crimes committed against kids. The following are the six groups of felonies under the Arizona laws:
Class One Felonies Sentence
In Arizona, both first and second-degree murder are classified under class one felony. The punishment for first-degree murder includes the death penalty. If the prosecution team is seeking a death sentence, there are special requirements before the court proceedings. Alternatively, second-degree murder is punished by a jail term of around 25 years in a state or county jail. Also, the sentence might range between fifteen and twenty-nine years if you have previous convictions.
Class Two Felony Sentence
In Arizona, class two felonies include sex trafficking, manslaughter, armed robbery, sexual assault, and manufacturing methamphetamine. You may face imprisonment in jail for four to ten years after committing class two felonies.
The potential sentence for class two felonies in phoenix includes a jail time of ten years in addition to a presumptive five years sentence. If you have two or more aggravating or mitigating circumstances, you will face a minimum of 3 years in jail and a maximum of twelve and half years in jail. The crimes which fall under class two felonies include:
- Sex trafficking
- Manufacturing methamphetamine
- Armed robbery and,
The law also considers sex assault as a class two felonies; however, it has its sentencing including a jail term of up to 14 years for a first-time offender and a presumptive of seven years sentence. If you have a previous criminal conviction, the sentence would be longer.
Class Three Felonies Sentence
The potential sentence for a class three felony ranges from two and six months to seven years in jail with a presumptive three years and six months. If your sentence has mitigation factors, you will spend two years in jail, while if the conviction resulted from aggravating factors, you would remain behind bars for up to ten years. The examples of class three felony offenses in Arizona include auto theft, assault using a deadly weapon, and burglary.
Class Four Felonies Sentence
In Phoenix, the class four felony offenses are usually punished by up to 3years in state jail and a presumptive sentence of two years and six months. The penalty for mitigated sentences is a year in jail, while aggravated sentences carry a jail time of 3 years and nine months.
The crimes that fall under class four felonies include:
- Property theft with a value between $3,000 and $4,000.
- Possessing a tool used to scan credit cards to defraud the card owner.
- Aggravated assault involving strangulation.
Class Five Felony Sentence
If you face a class five felony sentence, you will have a presumptive term of 18 months with a maximum of two years. Mitigated terms involve six months, while the aggravated term is 36 months. The crimes classified under class five felonies in Arizona include credit card theft, aggravated domestic violence, and stalking, which lead to emotional distress, property damage, or fear of injury.
Class 6 Felonies
The potential sentence for class 6 felonies includes 18 months of jail and a presumptive one-year sentence. The aggravated term involves a two-year jail time while the mitigated one is four months.
But, the sentence may not be severe when you face conviction for a class six felony whereby no deadly weapon was used. Instead, the presiding judge will decide to consider the crime a class one misdemeanor. Also, the judge may decide to place you under probation and hold the conviction until you complete the probation. For the crimes punished as either a misdemeanor or felony, the court may charge the offense as a misdemeanor. The examples of class six felonies in phoenix include:
- Witness tampering.
- Theft of an item with a value between $1,000 and $2,000.
- Theft using a firearm.
- Possessing drug paraphernalia.
- Possessing the illegal amount of marijuana.
Felony Sentence Enhancement in Phoenix
The penalties for felony offenses vary depending on various factors. So, the sentence will be longer for each class when:
- You have more than two previous felony convictions.
- Your current felony involves a dangerous crime. For example, when the offense involves the use of a dangerous weapon or it causes severe injuries.
- Your current felony conviction involves a specific type of dangerous offense against a kid( with various sentences based on the facts surrounding the case and whether the defendant has previous felony convictions).
Can You Obtain Probation Instead of Jail Time?
The presiding judge may decide to place you under probation. However, they may suspend the felony sentence when you are not eligible for the probation due to the facts surrounding the case and your past criminal records. But, if you face conviction for possessing illegal drugs apart from drug paraphernalia or methamphetamine, the jury will suspend the sentence and put you on probation unless you’ve been denied probation or treatment, or you’ve three prior convictions, or even when you face a conviction for violent offenses. During your probation time, the court may also determine you spend a certain time in county jail. Remember, as per the Arizona laws, the probation term must involve a monthly fee.
Mandatory Felony Sentencing in Arizona
As mentioned above, the state’s law is harsh when it comes to a felony conviction. Many people have too much to lose to admit the conviction. It happens when the Arizona laws subject you to mandatory sentencing. The felony conviction under mandatory sentencing law will make you ineligible for probation. When convicted, you will face longer jail times or even life imprisonment. Several crimes will expose you to excessive fines, installing interlock monitoring devices in your vehicle, and a felony criminal record for many years in your criminal records. The law grants the presiding judges authority to order more harsh penalties based on the case's facts.
Felony Crimes Which Subject You to Mandatory Sentencing
Under Arizona laws, severe felony charges will subject you to the state’s mandatory sentencing under A.R.S 13-701 and A.R.S 13-601. The charges include the following offenses:
- Dangerous Violent assault offenses
- Sexual assault
- Repeat offenses
- Battery and assault using a deadly weapon
- Armed robbery
Felony Sentencing Hearing In Arizona
Before the court holds the sentencing hearing, it files a pre-sentence report per rule 26.4 of the A.R.S. The report is evaluated during a pre-sentence hearing. However, the process is not part of the sentencing hearing. It gives the judge an additional chance to examine the charges, the available evidence, and the potential sentence options before deciding on the final decision during the hearing. The pre-sentence provides an opportunity to postpone the hearing by two weeks. Remember to seek legal help from your criminal defense attorney in each court hearing to avoid complicating yourself.
What is a Presentencing Report in Arizona?
A pre-sentencing report is a piece of evidence the court will examine during a pre-sentencing hearing. The screeners and the probation professionals compile the report. The report comprises:
- The alleged victim’s statements
- The defendant’s and their case information
- Sentence recommendation
- The defendant's risk assessment
The Arizona superior court will order the presentence report when making the sentence determination, unless:
- You are not eligible for a jail sentence for more than one year
- Your request for an expedited sentence
- The court already has your presentence report from a different criminal case.
The Official Felony Sentence Hearing
Sentencing might be brief for simple cases where they are decided during a plea negotiation. Under simpler cases, the presiding judge makes a statement immediately after the defendant pleads guilty. Then the judge places the defendant under a lengthy sentence after the severe felony.
The sentencing hearing may take longer when the offense can be the death penalty or a long jail term. For example, any defendant found guilty of first-degree murder in phoenix becomes subject to the death penalty. During the felony sentence hearing, the hearing involves arguments from both the prosecution and defense sides.
How the Criminal Court Chooses the Felony Sentence
The judge will consider two main factors when determining the sentence. The factors are; the pre-sentence report issued by the probation department and the statement from the open court. In addition, the state’s law requires four groups to provide their oral statements. The groups are; the defense attorney, the defendant, the victim, and the prosecution team.
The judge will usually re-examine the defendant’s crimes and their criminal defense attorney’s arguments to issue a lighter sentence. After considering all the arguments, the judge decides on the best sentence option for the defendant. Under A.R.S 26.10, the court allows the defendant to speak on their behalf. Also, the court permits the alleged victims an opportunity to present their thoughts concerning the defendant’s sentence.
The probation professional compiled the pre-sentence reports based on the witness accounts, evidence, and other essential information presented during their court hearings. The presiding judge also considers the report before making a final sentence. The sentence for felony crimes includes jail terms, death penalty, probation, and restitution fee. Regardless of the crime’s severity, the Arizona laws treat all offenses with the same attention. The court hearing is the critical part of your case, and you want to observe your attorney's guidance to obtain the best case outcomes.
What The Criminal Court May Reduce the Felony Sentence?
The court may reduce the felony sentence under certain conditions. Note the criminal court will more likely reduce the charge than dismissing it. Under Arizona laws, the following types of evidence may mitigate your sentence:
- Your age.
- Your inability to follow the state’s laws requirements.
- Any unusual or substantial police duress during the time of the crime.
- Whether you stopped to assist the alleged victims when the offense involves vehicle accidents like DUI.
- The size of your role during the offense commission.
- Any evidence related to your background or character or even the situation of your case.
What Might Lengthen the Felony Sentence?
Under Arizona A.R.S 13-701(D) recognizes several aggravating factors that might lengthen your sentence. The aggravating factors include:
- You paid someone else to commit the offense.
- You are 65 years old and above, or you have a disability.
- A dangerous instrument or weapon was applied when committing the offense.
- You had a face mask to hide your identity during the crime commission.
- During the crime, you impersonated the law enforcement officers.
Before lengthening your felony sentence, the prosecution team will have to prove one or more aggravating factors before the court, or you will have to admit guilt for at least one aggravating factor. If you waive your right to the judge, the factor will be proven. Upon proving the first factor, the court will impose the maximum sentence. Since the legal process might be challenging, you want to work with your criminal defense attorney. The attorney will provide legal assistance throughout the entire legal process.
Why Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney During the Felony Sentencing?
Working with the best criminal defense attorney, preferably an aggressive attorney with an outstanding case defense record, is essential. The attorney will provide legal help throughout the felony sentencing process. Every case involving a felony charge has two important stages: the defense attorney will help you obtain the best charge reduction or sentence reduction results.
The Defense Stage
The earlier you seek legal help from a competent attorney, the better you will fight the charges. The attorney will help you gather evidence, hire experts, file early motions, have chemical evidence for DUI cases, interview your witnesses, participate in pre-trial hearings, challenge the prosecutor's weak evidence, and develop a solid defense to win the case.
The sentence Stage
If you have limited chances of reducing your criminal charges due to the prosecutor's strong evidence, your criminal defense attorney will shift attention to the sentencing. The attorney will present mitigating elements which favor your case, exculpatory evidence, and arguments on why you, the judge, should consider sentence reduction or fewer charges.
Find a Phoenix Criminal Lawyer
As discussed above, felony sentencing in Phoenix is serious. The sentence might have adverse impacts on your future life. But, the good news is that the Arizona laws allow you to present your arguments before the presiding judge to help fight the charges. A convincing defense might substantially impact how the court perceives and treats you, leading to less serious sentences. That’s why you are required to work with a competent criminal attorney immediately after your arrest. Without legal help from a skilled attorney, you might face disastrous case outcomes.
Our criminal defense attorneys at Phoenix Criminal Attorney are ready to convince the court and help you obtain the best outcomes of your case. We have helped numerous clients seeking legal help across phoenix have a reduced sentence or reduced charges. Thus don’t hesitate to contact us today at 602-551-8092 and let us start working on your case.