While the classifications listed may seem minor when compared to the result of the case, in reality, the classification can make the difference in what happens if you are convicted.
What is a Felony in Arizona?
A felony crime in Arizona is, by nature, more serious and severe than a minor or misdemeanor crime. Often these offenses involve possible prison time. Felonies in Arizona include but are not limited to the following:
Violent crimes, including aggravated assault and homicide offenses
Arizona Felony Classes
Under Arizona Revised Statute 13-601, felonies fall into six classes: Class 1 felonies through Class 6 felonies.
Class 1 felonies are the most serious and include homicide offenses.
Class 6 felonies are the least serious. These offenses carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Under certain circumstances and with a good defense lawyer, the courts may agree to charge a Class 6 felony as a misdemeanor.
Each felony charge is unique, depending on the facts of the case. Felonies in Arizona also have “enhancement categories” that increase the sentence. These categories include “dangerous offenses”, “dangerous crimes against children”, and “repetitive offenders”.
Some crimes, like possession of methamphetamine for sale, have enhanced sentencing. An “attempted” crime will reduce the class of felony by one classification.
For instance, attempted murder would be a Class 2 felony rather than a Class 1 felony.
Class 1 Felonies in Arizona
This class of felony is the most serious. First and second-degree murder are the only class 1 felonies in Arizona. First-degree murder is punishable by death or life imprisonment. Second-degree murder is punishable by 16 years to life imprisonment.
Presumptive, Aggravated, and Mitigated Sentences:
For crimes outside the Class 1 felony category, Arizona lawmakers set a presumptive sentence for each felony class. A presumptive term is a standard sentence. This is the sentence the judge will give in most cases.
There are also mitigated and aggravated terms, according to Arizona Revised Statute 13-701. A judge may choose the aggravated term, which is longer than the presumptive term. The prosecutor must show aggravated circumstances. Examples of aggravated circumstances are:
An accomplice was present
The crime was especially cruel or heinous
The victim was over the age of 65.
A mitigated term is shorter than the presumptive sentence. A judge may choose a mitigated sentence if certain mitigating circumstances are present. Mitigating circumstances include:
The defendant’s young age
A minor role in the crime in question.
Class 2 Felonies in Arizona
The presumptive term for a class 2 felony is five years in prison. The aggravated term is 12.5 years. The production or creation of child pornography is a class 2 felony.
Class 3 Felonies in Arizona
The presumptive term for class 3 felonies is three years and six months’ prison time. The aggravated term is eight years and nine months.
Cultivation of four or more pounds of marijuana is a class 3 felony in Arizona.
Class 4 Felonies in Arizona
Class 4 felonies carry a presumptive term of two years and six months in prison. The aggravated term for a Class 4 felony is three years and nine months.
Theft of property between $3000 and $4000 is a class 4 felony.
Class 5 Felonies in Arizona
If lawmakers do not state a class for a felony, it is punishable as a Class 5 felony. A Class 5 felony has a presumptive sentence of two years, and an aggravated term of two years and six months.
Pimping and pandering, which is profiting from or facilitating the prostitution of others, are class 5 felonies.
Class 6 Felonies in Arizona
These are the least serious felonies in Arizona. The presumptive term for a Class 6 felony is one year in prison. The aggravated term is two years in prison.
In some cases, A.R.S. 13-604 allows a judge to designate a Class 6 felony conviction as a Class 1 misdemeanor. This would mean a less serious sentence.
Fines for Felonies
Prison time is not the only punishment judges can give in Arizona. A judge can impose fines of up to $150,000.
Arizona courts can impose additional fines against defendants convicted of drug crimes.
Prior Felony Convictions
Another circumstance that affects felony sentencing is a prior felony conviction. A person with two or more felony convictions or one prior conviction for a dangerous felony will receive a longer prison sentence than a first-time offender.
For example, if a court convicts someone of a Class 2 felony and that person has a prior dangerous felony conviction, the presumptive term doubles. Remember, the presumptive term for a Class 2 felony is five years. With a prior conviction, the presumptive term becomes ten years and six months.
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