What can I expect if I am being charged with a misdemeanor crime in Arizona?
We understand that the majority of people who call for help with their criminal case have absolutely no experience with the criminal justice system. Not knowing what to expect can cause additional fear and anxiety at a time when you need it least. You need an attorney who will take the time to explain exactly what you are being charged with, why you are being charged with it, what you can expect at each court date, what your possible punishments are and what we can do together to fight your case.
In Arizona, there are 3 types of misdemeanor classifications, including:
- Class 1 misdemeanor- A class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious misdemeanor offense and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, 3 years of probation (5 years maximum probation for DUI offenses) and a $2,500 fine plus surcharges. Some of the most common class 1 misdemeanor offenses include DUI, driving on a suspended license, assault, disorderly conduct, criminal damage, shoplifting and theft.
- Class 2 misdemeanor- A class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of 4 months in jail, a $750 fine plus surcharges and 2 years of probation. Some of the most common class 2 misdemeanor offenses are reckless driving, assault, criminal trespassing in the second degree and criminal damage.
- Class 3 misdemeanor- A class 3 misdemeanor is the lowest criminal offense, but still can carry severe punishments including a maximum of 30 days in jail, 1 year of probation and a $500 fine plus surcharges. The most common class 3 misdemeanor offenses in Arizona are a form of assault, criminal trespass in the third degree and criminal speeding.
At the Jon M. Martinez Criminal Law Group, we know that your time is valuable. In many situations, it may be possible for your privately retained attorney to attend the majority of your court appearances on your misdemeanor case without you needing to be present. Often times in misdemeanor courts, the attorney only needs to appear in order to ask for an extension of time called a continuance in order to continue negotiations with the prosecutor, complete a thorough investigation of your case, conduct interviews or have our team of experts examine your evidence. Instead of having you miss more valuable time at work just to sit in a courtroom for hours, many courts allow your privately hired attorney to attend your court appearance on your behalf.
What happens in court during my misdemeanor case?
When you are being charged with a misdemeanor in Arizona, the entire court process generally takes between 3 and 6 months to complete. Each case is very unique, however, and your case may take a shorter or longer time to complete. Remember, it is more important to do your case the right way instead of the fast way.
There are a number of steps that your case will go through during the court process. Again, each case is unique and your case will not necessarily follow these steps exactly, but generally speaking your case will begin with:
- Arraignment- The arraignment is your first appearance before the judge. Usually this is a mere formality where you and your attorney will enter a Not Guilty plea with the court in order to later obtain discovery from the prosecutor and begin negotiations. The arraignment may also be where the judge will decide on your release conditions that can range from a bond being placed to being released to pretrial services or being released on your own recognizance.
- Pre-Trial Conference- The pre-trial conferences will be the majority of your court appearances. This is one of the main opportunities where your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor on your case, although the majority of negotiations are likely to happen behind the scenes. The pre-trial conferences are also designed for the judge to make sure that your case is progressing either to a resolution or to a trial.
- Trial Readiness Conference- When your case is ready to go to trial, the judge may order a trial readiness conference or a trial management conference beforehand in order to see if there is any possible resolution to the case prior to trial or to simply set a trial date. It is likely that you would need to appear at this court appearance so that the judge is sure you are aware of your trial date.
- Evidentiary Hearings- In many cases, your attorney will try to find evidentiary issues that may lead to suppression of evidence and a dismissal of your case. Some examples of this could be motions to suppress evidence based on a bad stop by a police officer or an illegal search and seizure of the evidence.
- Trial- If all negotiations and evidentiary hearings fail to bring a resolution to your case, trial may be the only available option. Depending on your charges, you may either have a trial in front of a judge or a jury of your peers.
For more information on your misdemeanor case, feel free to contact us at any time.