My friend is on trial for possession by a prohibited. She is looking at 15 years. It is the only charge she is facing. Why?
She has 3 prior felony convictions. She is charged with nothing else. But she is looking at 15 years. Why?
2 attorney answers
The charge for a prohibited possessor is a Class 4 felony. With no criminal history, the presumptive sentence is 2.5 years. With two or more historical priors the presumptive sentence is 14 years. There are also many factors go into where she falls on the sentencing chart. Whether there are aggravating or mitigating circumstances and whether this case or priors are being designated as dangerous or non-dangerous. She really needs an attorney to help her out. If she cannot afford a private attorney, you may want to consider a Knapp Counsel arrangement with a private attorney to assist the public defender. You can find out more information about that here: https://maschneider.com/cant-afford-a-private-lawyer-take-a-knapp/
your friend is prohibited possessor. This means due to the fact that your friend has a prior felony, and your friend did not get his or her rights restored to have a weapon, it’s against the law for your friend to carry any type of weapon.
Sentencing in Arizona is based on two things. First the level of felony. Misconduct involving weapons is a class four felony. The state would have to prove that your friend was in possession, the actual possession or constructive possession, of a weapon.
Second, the state would have to prove if your friend has prior felony convictions. According to the statutes, if your friend, as you say, has three prior felony convictions, the range of sentencing it is-
1. absolute minimum of six years,
2. a presumptive sentence that the judge starts with of 10 years,
3. and a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Total range: 6-10-15
If your friend was on probation, or parole, or pre-trial release, this also makes sentencing more complex.
Usually a plea offer is about halftime of what you would get at trial, end it might go up or down for not considering how much time your friend was out of custody before getting in trouble again. The state takes having a weapon as a felon very seriously. And the prosecutor would also take into account whatever situation your friend was in when the gun was discovered.
If your friend was generally Doing well, Holding down a job, staying clean, not having issues, and has been out of custody for a while, that would all work in your friends favor and getting a better plea agreement.
Misconduct involving weapon cases are very difficult, because people are often facing so much mandatory prison time that they end up taking a plea even when there are very strong trial issues that actually might be viable to win a trial. Trials are just such a risky gamble. And part of misconduct involving weapons trials is that the jury hast to know that you are a felon. I hope your friend is receiving strong advice and support as he or she makes this difficult decision.
Private attorneys give free consultations, even for people in custody, so your friend should take a vantage of this and with a few attorneys, even if they are represented by a public defender at this point. And public defenders are some of the most outstanding trial attorneys around.
But if your friend is having doubts, find an attorney your friend is comfortable with and confident in.
I hope that helps! Best of luck to you and your friend.
Josephine Pesaresi Hallam
Hallam Law Group, P. L. L.C.