Misdemeanor Crimes

Misdemeanor Crimes in Arizona

In Arizona, someone charged with a misdemeanor crime can face up to six months in a local or county jail depending on the crime, as well as a fine of up to $2,500 not including a large surcharge. Misdemeanors fall under one of three designations, class 1, 2, and 3, with three being the least serious and 1 being the most serious. In cases where the court does not designate a misdemeanor, then the crime will be punished as if it was a class 2 misdemeanor.

Class 1 Misdemeanor

Someone charged with a class 1 misdemeanor can face a fine of up to $2,500, up to six months in jail and 3 years of probation which can be either unsupervised or supervised.  Driving Under the Influence (DUIs) is the exception because a judge can order up to 5 years of probation.

Class 2 Misdemeanor

Someone charged with a class 2 misdemeanor can face a fine of up to $750, up to four months in jail and 2 years of probation.

Class 3 Misdemeanor

Someone charged with a class 3 misdemeanor can face a fine of up to $500, up to 30 days in jail, and up to 1 year of probation.

For certain drug-related crimes, someone convicted of a misdemeanor can face additional fines depending on the number of times they have been convicted and what crime they committed. See AZ Rev Stat § 13-821 for more details. Class 1 Misdemeanors can include crimes such as: Assault – A.R.S. § 13-1203

Misdemeanor Assault

Assault is committed when:
  • A person Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person (Class 1 Misdemeanor)
  • A person Intentionally places another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury (Class 2 Misdemeanor)
  • When knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person (Class 3 Misdemeanor)
Disorderly Conduct – A.R.S. § 13-2904

Disorderly Conduct can be charged against a person for many situations.
The State will have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you purposely acted to disturb another person or neighborhood.

  • Fighting, engaging in violence, or acting disruptive
  • Making unreasonable noise
  • Using gestures or language that would provoke a physical fight

  • Disrupting business operations with unreasonable behavior

  • Refusal to comply with public safety order in the event of an emergency

  • Using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument recklessly

  • Disorderly conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor.  Disorderly Conduct with a deadly weapon is a class 6 felony.
Shoplifting – A.R.S. § 13-1805

Shoplifting is committed when a person knows they are taking an establishment’s goods and intends to deprive that establishment of those goods.
There are several factors a prosecutor will evaluate:

  • If a person removed the goods from a display without paying the purchase price.
  • If a person charges goods to a fictitious person without that person’s permission.

  • Paying less than the purchase price by trick or changing price labels

  • Transferring goods into a different container than what it was originally in, Or concealing merchandise.

  • Shoplifting goods with a value of $2000 or more is a class 5 felony.

  • Shoplifting goods with a value of $1000 but less than $2000 is a class 6 felony.

  • Finally, if a person uses any device to shoplift, they can be charged with a class 4 felony.

Threatening and Intimidating – A.R.S. § 13-1202

Threatening or Intimidating is committed when a person threatens or intimidates another person with words or conduct:

  • To cause physical injury to another person or serious damage to the property of another (Class 1 Misdemeanor)
  • To cause, or in reckless disregard to causing, serious public inconvenience including, but not limited to, evacuation of a building, place of assembly or transportation facility (Class 2 Misdemeanor)

  • To cause physical injury to another person or damage to the property of another in order to promote, further or assist in the interests of or to cause, induce or solicit another person to participate in a criminal street gang, a criminal syndicate or a racketeering enterprise (Class 3 Felony).

If a person threatens or intimidates another because they reported criminal activity, or if the person threatening is a gang member, then a class 1 misdemeanor becomes a class 6 felony.
Driving on a Suspended License – A.R.S. § 28-3473

Many people do not realize that if you are caught driving on a suspended license in Arizona it is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Aggressive Driving – A.R.S. § 28-695

Aggressive driving can be established if a person violates multiple traffic offenses. You may lose driving privileges if you are found guilty of aggressive driving. A skilled attorney can help you fight this charge to keep your driving privileges.

Resisting Arrest – A.R.S. § 13-2508

In Arizona a person commits resisting arrest by purposely trying to prevent an officer from making an arrest.

  • By using or threatening to use physical force against the peace officer or another (Class 6 Felony)
  • By using any other means creating a substantial risk of causing physical injury to the peace officer or another (Class 6 Felony)
  • Engaging in passive resistance (Class 1 misdemeanor)
Endangerment – A.R.S. § 13-1201
  • A person commits endangerment by recklessly endangering another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury
  • If the endangerment involves a substantial risk of imminent death, it is a class 6 felony. In all other cases, it is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Bench Trial vs. Jury Trial

Many misdemeanors are not eligible for a jury trial. Why?

In a jury trial, jurors will be selected at the start of your trial and it is the jurors who weigh the evidence that is presented.  The jurors also judge the credibility of witnesses.  At the end of the trial, the jurors will decide if they believe you are innocent or guilty.


In a bench trial the judge will be the only person to weigh all the evidence, judge the credibility of the witnesses, and decide your fate.

So which is better? Generally, a jury trial is better.

All of the jurors in a jury trial will need to decide unanimously that you are either guilty or not guilty. If even one juror does not agree with the others, then it can result in a mistrial. The reason most misdemeanors are not jury trial eligible is a complicated issue relating to English common law and severity of punishment.

Should I Use a Public Defender?

Generally, there is no requirement for a judge to appoint a public defender when the State/Prosecutor is not seeking jail time from you. A judge also may not appoint a public defender if you make too much money.
Although you may not be entitled to a public defender and/or the State is not seeking jail, many misdemeanors can have lifelong consequences.
A consultation with Mr. Thornley is free. Mr. Thornley has spent years defending these types of cases and has been successful in getting charges dismissed. Mr. Thornley has also been successful in fighting for Not Guilty verdicts for many clients in jurisdictions throughout Arizona.