Arizona Serious Felony Defense Attorney
In Arizona’s criminal justice system, there are three types of offenses:
- An infraction is a crime that is punished by a fine only. You do not need to worry about a jail or prison sentence with these offenses. Speeding and other minor traffic-related offenses are most often infractions.
- A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by a jail sentence of up to six months and/or a $2,500 fine. Misdemeanors are generally more serious than infractions but less serious than felonies. Misdemeanors may also carry some negative consequences – for instance, a conviction for misdemeanor theft can prevent you from obtaining certain jobs – but in general the consequences are short-lived.
- A felony is a crime punishable by a sentence of at least one year. This is the most serious classification of crime and the consequences can last long after you are convicted. In Arizona felonies range from class 1 felony (murder) to class 6 felony (possession of marijuana)
To try and avoid a felony conviction and the negative consequence associated with it, you need help from the Ferragut Law Firm, your Arizona felony crime defense firm.
Examples of Serious Felonies in Arizona
There are a number of felony offenses in Arizona. A felony offense is assigned a “class” number, ranging from 1 to 6, by the legislature. This class number indicates how serious that particular felony charge is and, therefore, how serious the consequences will be if you are found guilty. Class 1 felonies are the most serious offenses; Class 6 felonies, by contrast, are the least serious (but even a Class 6 felony can be punished by a prison sentence). A felony conviction can also result in fines of up to $150,000.
The sentence you receive for a felony conviction will depend not only on the class number but also your criminal history and (in some cases) on the specific facts of your case. If you have been previously convicted of multiple felonies, for instance, you can expect to receive a harsher sentence than a first-time offender.
Felony crimes that are frequently charged in Arizona include:
- Kidnapping. Kidnapping refers to taking and confining someone against their will for some illicit purpose (such as to commit a sexual battery against that person or to hold them as hostage). The distance the person is taken is immaterial: a victim can be “kidnapped” if you forcibly take that person from the kitchen of his or her house and confine them against his or her will in a bedroom of that same house. Kidnapping is a Class 2 felony with a presumptive prison sentence of five years in prison on a first conviction. The severity of this crime can be lessened if you release the victim voluntarily prior to your arrest or police involvement.
- Armed robbery. There are three types of robbery in Arizona: robbery, armed robbery, and aggravated robbery. At the heart of each type of robbery is the taking of property belonging to another through force or the threat of force. Aggravated robbery occurs when you have one or more accomplices assist you. Armed robbery occurs when you use a deadly weapon or something appearing to be a deadly weapon (such as a toy gun or rubber knife). Armed robbery is a Class 2 felony.
- Theft. Theft can occur under a variety of circumstances; however, to be convicted of theft it must be shown that you exercised, obtained, or retained control over the property of someone else when you did not have authority to do so. Picking up someone else’s laptop on a table is an act of theft. Seeing a person drop his wallet and taking it is an act of theft. Even receiving a package delivered to you by mistake and keeping that package is an act of theft. Depending on the value of the item or items taken, a theft conviction can be a misdemeanor up to a Class 2 felony.
- Burglary. A burglary occurs when a person breaks and enters into a house, other building, or a vehicle for the purpose of committing a theft or felony inside. Do not be fooled by the terms “break” and “enter” – you can be convicted of burglary even if the door to a house was left unlocked or you jimmied the lock open. A burglary also occurs once your foot or any other body part crosses the threshold to the building or vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or felony therein. For example, opening the door to a car that is not yours and reaching in with your hand to grab a purse sitting on the passenger seat is a completed act of burglary. There are three degrees of burglary depending on what you broke and entered into (a residence, a car, another building, etc.) and if you carried with you anything dangerous to help you commit the burglary. The most severe penalties are reserved for those cases where you enter a residence unlawfully armed with explosives or other deadly weapons. Depending on the circumstances, a burglary conviction can be anywhere from a Class 2 felony to a Class 4 felony.
- Conspiracy. Conspiracy charges are complex and dangerous. Being charged with conspiracy means that you agreed with at least one other person to carry out a crime and someone committed an act that furthered that plan. You do not need to be the one who actually committed the act in order to be found guilty of conspiracy. A conviction for conspiracy will typically be punished in the same way that the crime that was the subject of the conspiracy would have been punished. For example, a conspiracy to commit kidnapping would be punished as a Class 2 felony and the defendant would be subject to the same possible penalties, even if the actual crime is not carried out.
Defending Against Felony Charges
There is no “one” defense to felony charges. Instead, an experienced criminal defense attorney will need to examine the facts of your case as well as the government’s evidence before crafting a trial strategy that protects your rights and results in a favorable outcome. Your attorney will look at your case and ask several questions, including:
- What statements did you make to the police?
- Can any evidence be suppressed (that is, kept out of court)?
- What is your criminal history?
- What witnesses does the government intend to call? Are these witnesses credible?
- Do the police reports and government’s witnesses tell “the whole story?”
- Are there any witnesses and/or evidence that refutes the police’s story?
Arizona criminal defense attorney Ulises A. Ferragut, Jr. has defended many individuals charged with felony crimes in Arizona. He knows that a winning defense strategy takes the unique facts of each case into account and must be pursued aggressively in order to be effective. Contact him at 602-324-5300 or at 602-370-4597 (on nights and weekends) and put the experience and talent of the Ferragut Law Firm to work for you.