Mesa Violent Crimes Attorney Representing Clients Facing a Violent Crime Charge
It is estimated that the state of Arizona had the 10th highest rate of violent crimes in the nation in 2019. Because the rate of violent crimes is one of the most visible public safety stats, authorities will usually prosecute every violent offender aggressively as conviction rates traditionally play a key role in deciding elections. But what happens when you or a loved one end up facing charges for a violent crime? Our legal team has assisted many clients in a similar situation and offers some valuable input about violent crime charges in Arizona.
What Is Considered a Violent Crime in Arizona?
Violent crime is an umbrella term used to classify several different offenses, many of them are felonies that involve some degree of illicit force being used against a person and/or property, or engaging in threatening behavior that may lead someone to believe their safety is at risk. Violent crimes can range from burglary all the way to murder. Examples include kidnapping, robbery, domestic violence, felony assault, assault with the use of a deadly weapon, sexual abuse and arson to a building or structure while it is still occupied.
In order to be charged with a violent crime, an offender must have demonstrated that they acted in an intentional, knowing and reckless manner. Proving intention is key for the offense to be elevated into a criminal classification — the alleged offender acted with the intention to cause harm as opposed to acting with negligence. Second, the offender must have known that their act was criminal in nature. Finally, the offender was fully aware of the risks and ignored them, taking reckless action.
How Are Violent Crimes Investigated and Prosecuted by the State?
The state of Arizona, like many other states, dedicates special attention to the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes. Investigations are usually thorough and conducted very aggressively by special squads and police task forces inside police departments across the state. The only mission of these special divisions is to conduct investigations and make arrests of those suspected of committing a violent crime.
As mentioned previously, prosecutors are under a lot of public pressure when dealing with violent crimes, and besides conducting an aggressive, in-depth investigation, they may approach the case in a few different ways. If the defendant has no previous criminal record and is a first-time offender, and their actions did not result in anyone being seriously injured, the prosecution may be open to a plea bargain, but may often try to obtain the maximum sentence possible in order to gain some leverage if plea bargain negotiations take place. However, if the defendant has a criminal record, or if the victim was seriously injured or killed, prosecutors will often go for mandatory minimum sentences and may not agree to enter a plea deal.
What Are the Possible Penalties for a Violent Crime in Arizona?
Violent crimes receive some of the harshest sentences. Penalties often involve jail time or prison time, payment of fines and restitution to the victim when applicable. Some offenses may be eligible for probation, while others may require serving a good portion of the sentence in prison before being eligible for parole. The severity and length of the penalty depends on several factors, such as whether the victim was severely injured or died, whether the victim was a child and whether the defendant is a first-timer or repeat offender.
Many violent crimes are charged as felonies. Felonies are classified on a scale of 1 to 6, with a Class 1 felony being the most serious. If you are charged with a class 6 felony, you may expect to serve one to two years in prison. Class 1 felonies include serious crimes such as murder, and have significantly harsher penalties — anywhere from 25 years to life in prison. As one can see, being charged with a violent crime means there is a lot at stake, and working with a highly-skilled criminal defense attorney is essential for anyone hoping to achieve a better outcome for their case.
Which Defense Strategies Can Be Used to Get My Case Dropped?
If you have been arrested for a violent crime, working with a violent crime defense lawyer can give you a fighting chance to avoid maximum sentencing and — in some cases, having your charges dropped or de-escalated to a misdemeanor. Every case is different and a case dismissal is not always possible, but when so much is at stake, entering a plea deal without consulting an attorney may not be the most favorable move for your case.
The prosecutors will spare no effort in investigating your case and producing evidence against you — and a defense attorney will act with equal effort to fight back and question every piece of evidence presented. A common defense strategy is to question the validity of police reports, witnesses’ testimonies and argue that law enforcement lacked probable cause to conduct a search and seizure in your property or acted in a way that violated your constitutional rights. Another defense strategy is to try and convince the jury that you did not act with the intent to cause harm — and in some cases, that you were acting in self-defense or in the defense of others.
Remember that a charge does not mean a conviction, so it is important that you reach out to a Mesa violent crimes defense lawyer at the Naegle Law Firm, PLC as early as possible so we can analyze your case and inform you of your options. Contact our Mesa office at (480) 378-9000 and request a consultation.