Knowing the difference in misdemeanor classes is a helpful step to finding your best legal path.
Here’s where to start. In Arizona, misdemeanors are less severe than felonies, but a person can still serve jail time if convicted of certain misdemeanors.
There are three levels of misdemeanors: the most severe misdemeanor is a class 1, while the least severe is a class 3.
Class 1 Misdemeanor Penalties in Arizona
The maximum punishments for misdemeanors are outlined by A.R.S. § 13-707.
According to the statutes, the maximum penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor include up to six months in jail.
Fines often accompany a misdemeanor conviction, and can vary depending on the nature of the crime and if it’s a first offense.
For class 1 misdemeanors, the fines can be no more than $2,500.
The statutes state that adults who have been previously convicted of misdemeanors or even petty offenses can be sentenced for the next higher level of misdemeanor, so these penalties can apply to someone who is charged with a class 2 misdemeanor and who has previous convictions.
The final subsection of the statute says that the court may require that a person charged with a misdemeanor may not be released until the sentence has been served in full.
If you’re facing felony charges, your attorney may be able to reduce your charge to a class 1 misdemeanor.
This happens with charges like possession of marijuana, which is otherwise a felony offense.
Criminal trespassing is an offense that can be a felony or class 1 misdemeanor depending on the circumstances.
Class 2 Misdemeanor Penalties
The maximum punishments for class 2 misdemeanors include up to four months in jail and fines that cannot exceed $750.
As with the above, those who have previous misdemeanor or petty offense convictions may be sentenced to the next higher misdemeanor level, so those with past convictions may face these penalties even if they committed a class 3 misdemeanor offense.
Class 3 Misdemeanor Penalties
The maximum penalties for a class 3 misdemeanor include up to 30 days in jail and fines up to $500.
An example of a class 3 misdemeanor is criminal speeding.
Jail Times for Misdemeanors
Although misdemeanors can carry jail time up to six months, first-time misdemeanors typically incur less penalties.
You may be able to reduce your charges and punishments by agreeing to participate in a diversion program, if available, or other court requirements to lessen your penalties.
The statutes also state that for a petty offense, there can be fines no greater than $300. As with the actual penalties, the fines you face will depend on your specific charge and circumstances.
Misdemeanor Plea Bargains in Arizona
During your case, you may have the option of agreeing to a plea bargain that will lessen, reduce or drop some of your charges.
Should you agree to a plea bargain, it can substantially improve your outlook, though you should weigh all your options when deciding how to proceed in your case.
With the help of a qualified criminal attorney like those of our team, you can fully explore your legal options and choose the best route for your future.
How Long Does A Misdemeanor Stay On Your Record In Arizona?
Arizona law mandates that misdemeanor and felony convictions must remain on a person’s criminal record until age 99.
Considering how only a fraction of one percent of Americans live long enough to reach age 99, the law essentially guarantees criminal convictions will stay on your record for life.
The gravity of having a criminal conviction on your record for life underscores the importance of working with an experienced criminal law attorney when you’re charged with a crime in Arizona.
Some states permit expunging misdemeanor convictions after the defendant has fulfilled all of the terms of their sentencing and maintained a clean criminal record for a certain number of years (often 5-10 years).
Once expunged, the misdemeanor would be completely removed from the individual’s criminal record.
Unfortunately, Arizona law does not permit expunging any crime from an individual’s criminal record.
Arizonans may petition the court to have their misdemeanor conviction set aside once they’ve completed the terms of their sentencing, but this does not clear the conviction from their criminal record.
An employer or government agency that runs a full background check would still see the misdemeanor conviction, along with a note that says it has been set aside.
Reducing the Impact of Your Charge
At JacksonWhite Law, we offer our clients superior legal help that takes into consideration all possible angles. If you’ve been charged with any class of misdemeanor in Arizona, contact us today to make the most of your case. Our Mesa criminal attorneys have helped thousands of people in Arizona with criminal cases get positive outcomes like reduced or dismissed charges.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.
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