Arizona Misdemeanors Explained

Last Modified: February 1, 2024
By: Thomas HogleMay 5, 2023 |

We all make mistakes. For some, this could mean a run-in with the law. Being arrested and charged with a misdemeanor in Arizona is often a stressful experience. But it doesn't have to be - provided you have the right legal representation. On that note, if you're hunting for a criminal defense attorney in Mesa, AZ residents count on, considering Canyon State Law.

Our lawyers offer free case evaluations. Plus, you're not obligated to hire us. Think of us as your listening and caring professional partner, and try us out to see if we fit the bill.

In Arizona, a misdemeanor is a minor violation of the law. That said, anyone encountering the criminal justice system will tell you it's often confusing and challenging. Plus, unseen penalties can add up and cause a financial burden. No matter the situation, our Mesa criminal defense attorneys can help you understand your options and work toward a favorable outcome.

Penalties for Misdemeanors in Arizona

As noted, a misdemeanor is a less serious crime than a felony. As such, the penalties usually don't include jail time, except for DUI charges.

Misdemeanor offenses are also more common in Arizona than felonies. Depending on the charge, some defendants receive a light sentence, such as probation or a fine. Sure, you might not go to jail, but the judge may impose jail time depending on the nature of the offense.

Although DUI convictions in Arizona carry mandatory jail time, a bill passed in 2012 in the state allows for alternative forms of sentencing that may reduce or pardon the required time. Generally, if you're a first-time DUI offender, you can expect at least a 10-day jail sentence if your BAC (blood alcohol content) is between 0.085 and 0.15%.

Generally, there are three classifications for misdemeanors in Grand Canyon State, namely: Class 1, 2, and 3. Class 3 is the least serious of the three. If the classification of an Arizona misdemeanor is unspecified by law, it is automatically considered a class 2 misdemeanor. Here's a breakdown of the penalties for each class:

Class 1 Misdemeanor

These are punishable by up to 6 months in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 (including an 83% surcharge) - or both. A surcharge is a mandatory and additional fee payable for certain crimes. Alternatively, the court may impose a 3-year probation.

So, which offenses fall under this category? These include (but are not limited to) resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving on a suspended license, disorderly conduct, criminal damage, DUI, shoplifting - the list goes on.

Class 2 Misdemeanor

You could face up to 4 months in jail, a fine of up to $750 (plus an 83% surcharge), or both if convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor. Alternatively, 2-year probation could be on the cards. The common types of class 2 misdemeanors include:

  • Verbal assault
  • Leaving an accident scene
  • Reckless driving
  • Criminal damage of items valued under $250

The court may also require convicts to provide restitution to the victims (money paid in compensation for damages or injury caused by a crime). Likewise, license suspension - for a period determined by the court - may be imposed on perpetrators of certain misdemeanors such as DUI or reckless driving. Plus, court-ordered counseling may be part of the sentence.

Let's also point out that if someone is found guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor and has been convicted for the same offense within the past two years, their sentence could be equivalent to that of a class 1 misdemeanor. Simply put, repeated violations can increase the severity of punishment.

Class 3 Misdemeanor

Expect up to 30 days in jail or a fine of up to $500 (plus an 83% surcharge), or both, for class 3 misdemeanors. A year-long probation is also likely, depending on the case.

Examples of this misdemeanor include loitering, criminal trespass, assault (touching to injure or insult someone), criminal speeding, and more. If you've been convicted of the same class 3 offense twice within the past two years, you may be sentenced as if it was a class 2 misdemeanor. This implies the court may increase or extend the jail sentence and fines.

Other Consequences of a Misdemeanor

Besides the court-imposed sanctions above, misdemeanors can have long-term effects. For instance, many employers hesitate to hire or promote people with criminal records. Plus, if you work in a profession requiring certification, being found guilty of a misdemeanor may lead to revocation of your license.

Also, a conviction can limit your ability to own and carry firearms or work in certain professions. Your car insurance rates could also spike if you're convicted of a driving-related offense. Similarly, a permanent blot on your record may affect your ability to find a job, put you at risk of deportation, or affect your immigration status.

Why Should You Seek Legal Representation?

As we've established, the consequences of a misdemeanor offense extend beyond the courtroom. As such, it is advisable to partner with a skillful criminal defense lawyer when facing a misdemeanor charge. They can help you pursue a favorable outcome by:

  • Representing you during hearings - going through the case with you and helping you choose the right defense strategy.
  • Negotiating with the prosecution - to reduce or have your charges dropped.
  • Advising you on a plea and guiding you through the process of accepting or rejecting it.
  • Defending you in court - using their legal knowledge and experience to represent your best interests (if your case goes to trial).

An attorney can also help you manage the secondary effects of a conviction, helping reduce their impact on your life. In short, they're your dependable partner when facing a misdemeanor charge.

Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanors

Arizona misdemeanor charges, regardless of classification, have a statute of limitations. This is the window of time within which the state must file charges. For all classes of misdemeanors, the statute of limitations is one year. However, the time limit doesn't apply or run if a defendant is out of state or doesn't reside within the state.

The legal team at Canyon State Law knows the realities of facing a misdemeanor charge, as trivial as it may seem. Thus, we can help you navigate the challenging and oft-confusing criminal justice system and realize an optimal outcome. You may also browse our website for more information about Arizona misdemeanors and other aspects you need to know. Check us out at https://canyonstatelaw.com/mesa-criminal-defense-lawyer/.

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Thomas Hogle
Thomas Hogle is a Principal Attorney at Genesis Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyers, leads a dedicated legal team specializing in criminal defense and DUI cases, offering comprehensive and skilled representation to clients facing legal challenges.
21321 E Ocotillo Rd Suite 125, Queen Creek, AZ 85142

Genesis DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyers - Peoria AZ Office

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