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
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.
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:
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:
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.
Endangerment – A.R.S. § 13-1201
Bench Trial vs. Jury Trial
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.