A felony charge can be devastating , but a felony conviction is disastrous. With a felony charge, the court process can add insult to injury, and is as mysterious as it is merciless. It could begin with you being held in chains in the county jail with or without bond. You might remain in jail, unable to pay the bond, and then be hauled by the county sheriff to a court hearing only to meet a public defender briefly, just to remain in custody waiting in jail for your next court hearing.
Arizona law (Arizona Revised Statutes, ARS) provides that felonies are crimes that can be punished by more than one year in state prison. In Arizona, felonies range from Class 1 to Class 6 (ARS 13-601), with Class 1 being the most serious felonies and Class 6 comprised by the least serious felonies. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Possession or use of Drugs
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Aggravated Assault
- Criminal Trespass****
- Robbery (and Aggravated / Armed Robbery)
- Organized Retail Theft
- Aggravated DUI
- Sexual Assault
- Child Molestation
- Possession of Child Pornography
- Aggravated Criminal Damage / Criminal Damage*
- Interfering with an Educational Institution
- Tampering with Evidence
- Identity Theft
- Criminal Impersonation
- Money Laundering
- Computer Tampering
- Resisting Arrest
- Influencing a Witness
- Misconduct Involving Weapons
- Unlawful Flight
* depends on the value of the property damaged
** depends on the value of the property taken
*** it is felony if the crime being hindered is a felony
**** depends on the structure involved
Arizona law also provides for some enhancements – these are statutory provisions which might substantially and significantly increase the prison sentence imposed for a felony conviction. Arizona enhancements include:
Dangerous Offenses (ARS 13-105(13))
Methamphetamine (for sale)
Dangerous Crimes Against Children (ARS 13-705)
In Arizona, where a person has two or more prior convictions for felonies, of if the prior conviction is for a dangerous felony, the laws provide for longer prison terms than a person without prior felony convictions.
Another thing to know about felonies is that under statute, a felony conviction can be aggravated or mitigated. Usually, a felony conviction will result in a presumptive sentence – an established middle-of-the-road sentence. Aggravated is more than the presumptive and mitigated is less than the presumptive. Aggravators can include (ARS 13-701):
the presence of an accomplice
the crime was committed in the presence of a child
the victim was ambused
Being convicted of a felony has long ranging collateral consequences like losing your rights to possess a firearm, and vote. Again, outside of the fines which can be $150,000 plus 83% surcharges, a felony conviction can reduce your employment opportunities. A felony conviction will be part of your record – crimes in Arizona cannot be expunged or sealed. All of this, and the opinion and gossip that go with it.
Some felonies have a deadline in which the State must file charges or be prohibited from ever bring charges. For instance, in general, felonies have a seven (7) year statute of limitation. However, murder/homicide, sexual assault, and misuse of public money, are examples of crimes without a deadline – the State can charge these types of crimes at any point. ARS 13-107.
Just as there are enhancements, there are other statutes which if included in the charging document, can reduce the felony classification. For instance, Arizona’s attempt statute (ARS 13-1001) will reduce the charge one level down – a Class 4 felony becomes a Class 5 felony. Defenses include those enumerated by Arizona statute, and those which come by way of procedure and operation of law like a Motion to Dismiss/Supress.
The punishments and penalties for felony convictions are determined by statute, and by operation of the process as actually ordered by a superior court judge. This is a link to some very helpful sentencing information on the Arizona Supreme Court's website: http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/CriminalSentencingCt/2015Sentencing.pdf
Bring your felony case to Mike, and let him review it – no charge. Get him involved in your case early to protect your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome. Mike can explore and explain all your options. Mike knows the local court system and process, and the people involved, and can work from within to resolve your case quickly and reasonably. Mike also has an established network of colleagues in Maricopa, Coconino, Pinal and Mohave County, so he can help with your case too even if its not in Yavapai County. Based on the circumstances of your case, "favorable outcome" could mean signing a plea agreement or setting your case for trial. Call Mike now, (928) 445-5484.