In Arizona, felonies are crimes punishable by terms of one year or more in state prison. Less serious crimes, called misdemeanors, are punishable by up to six months in local or county jail.
Felonies in Arizona may be classified as Class 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-601, 13-602.)
Presumptive, Aggravated, and Mitigated Sentences
For crimes other than class 1 felonies, Arizona lawmakers have set a presumptive sentence for each class of offense, and the defendant will be given the presumptive sentence in many cases. Arizona’s lawmakers have also set aggravated and mitigated terms. A judge may sentence a defendant to the aggravated term, which is longer than the presumptive term, if the prosecutor can show certain aggravating circumstances. Examples of aggravating circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- an accomplice was present
- the crime was especially cruel or heinous, or
- the victim was over the age of 65.
A judge is also permitted to sentence a defendant to the mitigated term, which is a shorter term, if certain mitigating circumstances are present. Mitigating circumstances include the defendant’s young age or that the defendant’s participation in the crime was minor. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-701.)
Class 1 Felonies
Class 1 felonies are the most serious crimes, and first and second degree murder are the only class 1 felonies in Arizona. First degree murder is punishable by death or life imprisonment, and second degree murder is punishable by 16 years’ to life imprisonment. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-705, 13-706, 13-710, 13-1104, 13-1105.)
Class 2 Felonies
In Arizona, the presumptive term for class 2 felonies is five years and the aggravated term is 12.5 years. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-701.) Producing or creating child pornography is a class 2 felony.
For more information on this crime, see Child Enticement in Arizona.
Class 3 Felonies
The presumptive term for a class 3 felony is three years and six months; the aggravated term is eight years and nine months. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-701.) Cultivation of four or more pounds of marijuana is a class 3 felony in Arizona.
For more information on this and related crimes, see Arizona Marijuana Laws.
Class 4 Felonies
Class 4 felonies have a presumptive of two years and six months in prison and an aggravated term of three years and nine months. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-701.) For example, theft of property worth between $3,000 and $4,000 is a class 4 felony.
For more information on theft penalties, see Arizona Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws.
Class 5 Felonies
If lawmakers fail to indicate a class for a particular felony, then it is punishable as a class 5 felony. A person convicted of a class 5 felony in Arizona faces a presumptive term of two years and an aggravated term of two years and six months in prison. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-701.) Pimping and pandering (making money from or facilitating the prostitution of others) are class 5 felonies.
For more information on prostitution and related crimes, see Prostitution, Pimping, and Pandering Laws in Arizona.
Class 6 Felonies
Class 6 felonies are the least serious felonies under Arizona law. The presumptive term for a class 6 felony is one year in prison and the aggravated term is two years in prison. Under certain circumstances, a judge can even designate a class 6 felony conviction as a class 1 misdemeanor conviction and sentence a defendant accordingly. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-604, 13-701.)
An Arizona judge can sentence any person convicted of a felony to pay a fine of up to $150,000. Additional fines may be imposed against defendants convicted of drug crimes. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-801, 13-821.)
Prior Felony Convictions
Arizona’s laws authorize a longer prison term for a person who has two or more prior felony convictions or a prior conviction for a dangerous felony than for a person convicted of the same crime who has not been previously convicted of multiple or dangerous felonies. For example, a person who is convicted of a class 2 felony and has a prior conviction for a dangerous felony faces a presumptive term of ten years and six months, more than double the presumptive term for a first time offender convicted of a class 2 felony. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-703, 13-704, 13-706.)
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a time period, set by lawmakers, during which the state must begin criminal prosecution or the defendant can have the case dismissed. For most felonies in Arizona, the state has seven years from the time the crime is committed to begin prosecution. The most serious felonies, such as murder, have no statute of limitations and the state can begin prosecution at any time.
For more information, see Arizona Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
A felony conviction can have very serious consequences. Aside from time in prison and a fine, a felony conviction can result in an increased sentence if you are convicted of a crime in the future, and can limit you in other ways, such as preventing you from owning a gun, running for office, or obtaining a professional license. If you are charged with a felony, you should talk to an Arizona criminal defense attorney today. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and obtain the best possible outcome in your case.