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Criminal Terminology: Mitigated, Minimum, Presumptive, Maximum, Aggravated

The sentencing guidelines in Arizona for felony offenses are labeled as mitigated, minimum, presumptive, maximum, or aggravated. While these terms are included in many of the Arizona Revised Statutes, many people don’t know what they mean. Below are the definitions as they apply to felony offenders in Arizona.

A mitigated sentence is the lowest possible sentence and can be made available if the offender meets certain requirements. When deciding whether or not to impose a mitigated sentence, the court will consider the following factors:

  • If the defendant was under unusual duress at the time of their crime
  • The defendant’s age
  • If the defendant’s participation in the crime was minor
  • The defendant’s capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of their crime
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the defendant’s background or character

Next is the minimum sentence. This is the lowest possible sentence for an offender who doesn’t qualify for a mitigated sentence.

Following the minimum sentence is the presumptive sentence; this is typically the sentence that an offender will face if their circumstances do not qualify them for a mitigated or minimum sentence.

A maximum sentence is the highest penalty that an offender can face, unless they committed an act that would increase their offense to an aggravated crime. In such case, that offender could receive an aggravated prison sentence. The following factors will qualify an offender for an aggravated sentence:

  • If the offense involved the damage or taking of property
  • If the offense was committed in an especially depraved, heinous, or cruel manner
  • If the offender threatened or caused physical injury, except when it is an essential part of their crime
  • If the offender threatened, used, or possessed a deadly weapon, except when it is an essential part of their crime
  • If the death of an unborn child occurred by the offense
  • The defendant was wearing body armor at the time of their crime
  • The offender had an accomplice
  • The defendant committed the crime as a payment
  • A victim died as a result of the defendant’s conduct
  • The defendant had a prior felony conviction in the last 10 years
  • The defendant was impersonating a police officer at the time of their crime
  • A victim of their crime was at least 65-years-old or was a disable person
  • The defendant committed the crime out of malice toward the victim
  • The defendant ambushed a victim during their crime
  • The defendant used a stun gun during their offense
  • The defendant offered to pay or paid someone else to commit the crime
  • The defendant was a public servant at the time of the offense and their crime was directly related to their employment
  • Their offense was committed in retaliation
  • Their offense was committed in the presence of a child

Maximum and aggravated sentences are much longer than presumptive, minimum, and mitigated sentences in AZ, and the court is required to consider evidence and the opinions of the victim and/or the victim’s family when imposing a mitigated or aggravated sentence on an offender.

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