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Felonies & Misdemeanors

Arizona Criminal Attorney

The Difference Between Felony & Misdemeanor Crimes

Across the United States, crimes are classified into felonies and misdemeanors. More serious crimes fall under the category of felonies, while less serious are misdemeanors. For example, murder is a felony, while public intoxication could be a misdemeanor. Within the broad categories of felonies and misdemeanors, there are sub-categories—typically called classes—under which specific types of crimes are placed.

In the United States, every state has unique criminal law statutes, including sentencing guidelines for felonies and misdemeanors. The most obvious example to illustrate this point would be capital punishment, which is permitted by some states, but not by others.

Arizona sentencing guidelines

The Arizona Criminal Code Sentencing Provisions provides the guidelines that judges use to sentence people convicted of crimes. In Arizona, the guidelines designate specific sentencing for specific types of crimes instead of fitting them within a general felony and misdemeanor framework.

Probably the simplest way to approach Arizona’s guidelines is to look at the minimum and maximum prison terms for two main categories of felonies:

Dangerous offenses

  • Class 2: 7 to 21 years
  • Class 3: 5 to 10 years
  • Class 4: 4 to 8 years
  • Class 5: 2 to 4 years
  • Class 6: 1.5 to 3 years

Non-dangerous offenses

  • Class 2: 4 to 10 years
  • Class 3: 2.5 to 7 years
  • Class 4: 1.5 to 3 years
  • Class 5: 0.75 to 2 years
  • Class 6: 0.5 to 1.5 years

For both dangerous and non-dangerous offenses, mitigating and aggravating circumstances, as well as increased term for repeat offenses apply. Sometimes in Arizona, with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney in Tucson, the charges and penalties can be reduced. In some cases, convictions can also be appealed.

For more information about types of crimes and penalties, contact a Tucson criminal attorney.

Arizona sentencing guidelines specifically address certain crimes in addition to the general classes for dangerous and non dangerous crimes. Here are a few examples:

  • Dangerous crimes against children: examples include child molestation or sexual abuse; 13-27 years, possible life sentence for first offense
  • Serious, violent or aggravated offenses: examples include murder, sexual assault, arson, armed robbery; recommended life sentence for first offense
  • Drug offenses: based on classification of drugs, threshold amounts, and other factors
  • First degree murder: death of life sentence

There are many factors that can influence charges and penalties, such as the age of the offender or the discretion of a judge.

Contact D. Jesse Smith if you have been arrested or charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime in Arizona, or are seeking an appeal. Call a Tucson criminal attorney at (520) 623-8343, toll free at(866) 675-8180 or fill out our web contact form.

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