If “why would I need a criminal defense lawyer?” is a question that you typed into a search engine, chances are good that you have either been charged with a crime or believe that you could potentially be charged with a crime. If either of these statements is true, you should probably talk to an Arizona criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Any criminal charge, even a misdemeanor offense or a DUI, can lead to incarceration, fines, license suspension, and a criminal record. You need to take your criminal defense seriously and talk to a lawyer.
Misdemeanors and Felonies in Arizona
The state of Arizona has a reputation for being tough on crime. Penalties are much tougher here than in other states. The penalties for the general categories of crimes are as follows:
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: 6 months in jail and up to $2,500 in fines per person
- Class 2 Misdemeanor: 4 months in jail and up to $750 in fines per person
- Class 3 Misdemeanor: 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines per person
- Petty Offense: No jail and up to $300 in fines per person
- Class 1 Felony: Death or life in prison for first-degree murder only, 16 years to life in prison for second-degree murder
- Class 2 Felony: 5 years – 12 years 6 months in prison
- Class 3 Felony: 3 years 6 months – 8 years 9 months in prison
- Class 4 Felony: 2 years 6 months – 3 years 9 months in prison
- Class 5 Felony: 2 years – 2 years 6 months in prison
- Class 6 Felony: 1 year – 2 years in prison
Fines for felony convictions can be up to $150,000.
Private Criminal Defense Lawyer vs. a Public Defender
According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report, in 2019 there was:
- 11,572 violent crime arrests
- 199,489 property crime arrests
- 257,062 arrests for all crimes
With numbers like these, it’s plain to see that the Arizona criminal justice system is flooded with individuals awaiting court cases. Opting for a public defender for your case may seem like a hassle-free, low-cost solution, but it’s often not in your best interests. In a county like Maricopa, public defenders have excruciatingly heavy caseloads, which often don’t allow them to give attention to their individual clients. They are often under pressure to take less-favorable plea bargain deals from prosecutors in the interests of expediting the process. Unfortunately, that means that the client doesn’t get the best deal that they possibly could.
One of the advantages of retaining the services of a private criminal defense lawyer is that they are able to manage their caseloads, which means that they can dedicate the appropriate amount of time to an individual case. Because their retainer is paid in advance, there is no pressure to clear the case as quickly as possible. This means that the client can receive an improved plea deal. If not, the defense attorney can take it to trial.
Criminal Defense in Arizona
Whether you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, your liberty reputation, and future are in jeopardy. Do your research and hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you.