The Arizona Criminal Code separates crimes into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. A misdemeanor is a less serious crime, which generally imposes sentences of less than six months in jail. A felony on the other hand, is a more serious crime, usually requiring punishment of more than one year in prison. Misdemeanors and felonies are further divided into classes. In Arizona, there are three classes of misdemeanors: Class 1 misdemeanors, Class 2 misdemeanors, and Class 3 misdemeanors. Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious while Class 3 misdemeanors carry the least serious punishment.
Even though misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies, they may still carry jail time and can negatively impact your life. Arizona Lawyers has over 38 years of experience fighting on behalf of those facing criminal charges and has the experience necessary to assess your case and provide you with honest feedback based on your circumstances. We work for you and provide straightforward advice through all aspects of your case, doing our best to make sure one mistake doesn’t impact your future.
Classifications of a Misdemeanor
Class 1 Misdemeanors
Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious type of misdemeanors. Examples of crimes classified as Class 1 misdemeanors include:
- Domestic violence
- Criminal damage to property valued between $250 and $1000
- Deceptive business practices
- Disorderly conduct
- DUI / DWI / OUI
Punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor is a sentence in the state department of corrections. The maximum sentence for a conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor is six months. Class 1 misdemeanors are also punishable by fines. The maximum fine to be fixed by the criminal court upon a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction is $2,500. Class 1 misdemeanors may also be punished by a maximum term of three years of probation.
Class 2 Misdemeanor
Class 2 misdemeanors are not as serious as Class 1 misdemeanors but still carry jail time and a hefty fine. Examples of crimes classified as Class 2 misdemeanors include:
- Criminal trespass in the second degree
- Opening or reading correspondence addressed to another without authority
- Reckless driving
- Consuming alcohol under the age of 21
Punishment for a Class 2 misdemeanor is a specified sentence in the state department of corrections. The maximum sentence for a conviction of a Class 2 misdemeanor is four months. Class 2 misdemeanors are also punishable by fines. The maximum fine to be fixed by the criminal court upon a Class 2 misdemeanor conviction is $750. Class 2 misdemeanors may also be punished by a maximum term of two years of probation.
Class 3 Misdemeanor
Class 3 misdemeanors are the least serious classification of misdemeanors. Examples of crimes classified as Class 3 misdemeanors include:
- Criminal trespass in the third degree
- Possession of alcohol under the age of 21
- Excessive speeding
- Leaving the scene of an accident
Punishment for a Class 3 misdemeanor is a specified sentence in the state department of corrections. The maximum sentence for a conviction of a Class 3 misdemeanor is thirty days. Class 3 misdemeanors are also punishable by fines. The maximum fine to be fixed by the criminal court upon a Class 3 misdemeanor conviction is $500. Class 3 misdemeanors may also be punished by a maximum term of one year of probation.
If a particular crime defined in Arizona’s criminal code is not classified as either a Class 1, 2, or 3 misdemeanor, it is considered to be a Class 2 misdemeanor. As such, an unspecified misdemeanor is punishable by up to a four-month prison sentence, a $750 fine, and/or one year of probation.
Other Forms of Punishment
Depending on the crime, the Arizona Criminal Code may allow a court to impose an alternative form of punitive, rehabilitative, or restorative penalties, including:
- Victim restitution
- Community service
- License suspension
- Defensive driving school
- Counseling, classes, or treatment
- Work release
- Home detention
Mitigating and Aggravating Factors in Sentencing
At sentencing, the criminal court may consider various factors that apply to the level of punishment imposed. Mitigating factors result in a lesser sentence and may include a defendant’s age and capacity or any other factor deemed relevant by the court such as a defendant’s status in the community or the absence of prior criminal behavior.
Aggravating factors result in increased sentencing. Examples of aggravating factors include prior criminal convictions, the defendant’s role in the crime, and other facts and circumstances the court deems relevant.
Past Misdemeanor Convictions
Any person over the age of 18 who has previously been convicted of one or more of the same misdemeanors in the two years preceding the current conviction is subject to sentencing at the next higher classification of offenses. For example, a person who was convicted of a Class 2 misdemeanor within the last two years and subsequently is convicted of another Class 2 misdemeanor will be sentenced for a Class 1 misdemeanor. Similarly, prior convictions for a Class 1 misdemeanor may result in aggravated sentencing at the lowest level felony under the Arizona Criminal Code.
Impact of a Misdemeanors on Your Criminal Record
Being convicted of a criminal misdemeanor carries consequences for the rest of your life. Unless you seek to have criminal charges expunged, that conviction is attached to you forever. You may be required to disclose the conviction on job or housing applications, where the conviction may be held against you. Luckily, if you are considering a career in the armed forces, the Arizona Criminal Code provides that a conviction of a Class 2 or 3 misdemeanor is deemed a minor non-traffic offense for the purpose of armed forces recruitment.
Contact Our Phoenix Misdemeanor Criminal Defense Attorney
While misdemeanor convictions do not carry as much jail time as convictions for felonies, they are still serious matters that stay on your criminal record for life. In addition to short prison sentences, courts may also impose fines, order restitution, or sentence you to probation. If you are being charged with a misdemeanor your best move is to obtain experienced legal representation. The attorneys at Arizona Lawyers have experience as both prosecutors and defense attorneys and can make sure you receive fair treatment throughout your case. Our attorneys will be on your side from day one, helping you receive the best outcome in your case and, keeping you informed around every corner. Contact us today for a consultation regarding your case.