In Mesa, Arizona, a felony is any offense that imposes a term of imprisonment in the custody of the State Department of Correction. So, if you can go to prison by being found guilty of the offense you are charged with, this guarantees you a felony offense.
Arizona felonies range from a Class VI felony ( the lowest level felony) to a Class I felony, an example of murder.
Misdemeanors are less severe offenses than any felony charges. These are classified as Class I, II, and III misdemeanors, where Class I is the highest and Class III is the lowest.
The absolute maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is six months in jail. This is one of the most significant differences between a misdemeanor and a felony conviction. You may have 30 misdemeanor charges, but even on the 31st misdemeanor, you commonly won’t go to prison. Concerning felonies, however, a prison term is always on the table and, if convicted, usually is carried out.
Common examples of felony charges would be murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and vehicular manslaughter. Aggravated assault, aggravated robbery, burglary, theft, and trafficking in stolen property are usually felonies and carry severe punishments.
In addition, many drug offenses, trespassing, theft of means of transportation (auto theft) are commonly also charged as felonies in Arizona.
If you are charged with a felony, you will face your charges in the Mesa courts. In this case, a few different things could happen to you. Let’s assume you are arrested for a felony aggravated assault charge; then, the prosecutor will thoroughly review your case. If they find that the elements of a felony charge may not be met, they can do what’s referred to as “County Attorney turndown.”
This legally translates as there is not enough to charge for aggravated assault, so therefore it is not going to be charged as a felony. Your case would revert to the jurisdiction that made your arrest. This jurisdiction could then decide to charge you with simple assault, usually a misdemeanor.
This example illustrates just one of the most important reasons for you to consult with and retain an experienced Mesa criminal defense attorney from the onset of your case. As a misdemeanor, your chances of life-changing penalties are reduced enormously.
Do Felonies and Misdemeanors Affect My Criminal Record the Same?
As you may guess, felonies impact your criminal record far more than a misdemeanor. If you have a felony conviction, you will lose your right to vote, any right to be on a jury, and a right to own any type of firearm. None of these punishments hold with a misdemeanor conviction.
Commonly today, background checks are run for a variety of reasons. Your potential landlords, employers, and more look for felony convictions which could increase your chances of not getting a job or housing. Some may even look for misdemeanors; however, having a felony conviction on your record is much more severe than a simple misdemeanor.
For all the above reasons, it’s vital to note that any felony conviction in Arizona will always end with a prison sentence. Consulting and working with a qualified, professional Mesa criminal defense law firm will help you mitigate a felony charge. In this way, your criminal defense lawyer, fighting for your rights, may be able to reduce the consequences you face drastically.
If I’m a “First Time” Felony Offender, Will I Still Face Prison Time?
You must know that all felony crimes in Arizona carry a prison sentence of one year or more. Your prison term will increase as you progress from a class 6 to a class 1 felony (the most severe).
However, Arizona’s criminal code sometimes offers a break for you as a first-time felony offender. Your criminal defense lawyer will use these statutes to significantly decrease your prison time. If you are charged with a class 6 felony, your judge may even be able to be convinced to downgrade your charge to a class 1 misdemeanor. This could allow you (as the defendant) to avoid any prison time.
Your Mesa criminal defense law team will tirelessly work for more favorable sentencing in these cases. Your lawyer will argue that your case includes at least two mitigating factors below.
These mitigating factors are:
- Your age.
- Your ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of your conduct.
- Your ability to conform to the requirements of the law was impaired.
- You were under substantial duress or stress.
- Your participation in the offense was minor.
- A factor that pertains to your character or background is mitigating.
There are more, but at least two of these mitigating factors must be applicable and proven, to be eligible for your mitigated prison sentence. Legally it holds that the more of these factors your lawyer proves, the better your chances of getting a mitigated sentence.
What Are Defenses against a Felony Charge My Criminal Defense Lawyer Could Use?
It’s vitally important that you work with a Mesa criminal defense law team that has experience defending felony cases. At times, the mitigating factors listed may be sufficient to have the charges against you downgraded or dropped altogether. Let’s presume that you were forced to commit a felony under extreme duress and will testify against the party that forced you to commit the crime. In this case, the prosecutor or judge may be willing to drop the charges against you altogether.
Suppose your criminal defense law team cannot argue that the mitigating factors aren’t enough to downgrade or drop the charges. If this occurs, your defense may argue that your constitutional rights were infringed during or after your arrest. For example, perhaps the arresting officer failed to read your Miranda rights properly, you were denied access to an attorney, or evidence against you was unlawfully obtained.
Using any of these examples and much more, your criminal defense lawyer will analyze all the details of your singular case and mount the most successful defense possible to either mitigate your charges downward or get them dropped.
I May Be Facing Felony Charges in Mesa; How Should I Proceed?
Facing felony charges in Mesa, Arizona, is a grave matter and could alter your path for the rest of your life. It’s mandatory that you consult with a professional, experienced, and winning criminal defense team as soon as possible.
Your Mesa criminal defense lawyer will get ahead of the prosecution’s case as diligently as possible. Remember, under Arizona’s felony laws, you will be facing prison if convicted. So, don’t gamble with your future, and get the professional, clear-headed legal advice you need.