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Arizona Sentencing Laws

Posted on November 9, 2023 in

How much time am I going to get?

Arizona's Sentencing LawsArizona sentencing laws are tough. After one is convicted of a criminal offense, the judge will sentence you. The range of Arizona sentencing laws will depend on the type of offense involved. As a criminal defense attorney, we actually have books devoted to sentencing.  Sentencing can be complicated.  Please consider the following information as general information only; your situation may be different.

Misdemeanor Sentences

Normally prosecuted in city or justice courts, Arizona has three levels of misdemeanor offenses: class 1, 2 and 3 offenses.

Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious: DUI, Assault, and most offenses will fall into this category. If convicted, the MAXIMUM potential sentence is 6 months of jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Class 2 misdemeanors are slightly less severe. The maximum jail term is 120 days and a fine up to $750. Again, interest and assessments may also play a factor.

Class 3 misdemeanors are the least severe. The maximum jail term 30 days and fine up to $500.

Felony Sentences

Prosecuted in the Superior Court of the County in which any part of the crime occurred, felony matters can be one of six classes. The biggest difference between a felony and misdemeanor is that a felony can result in a prison term. With few exceptions, the prison term will exceed more than one year. In some cases, a lifetime prison term may be mandated. In addition, a felony conviction will result in the loss of constitutional rights.

A Class 1 felony is the most serious.  These are homicide and capital based crimes.

A Class 2 felony is also a serious crime.  Common class 2 felonies include drug sales, armed robbery, kidnapping, and substantial thefts and fraud schemes to name just a few.  

A Class 6 felony is the lowest level of felony.  In some cases, a class 6 felony may be reduced to a misdemeanor.

The amount of potential prison time is dependant on one’s felony criminal history, the number of charges and type of charges you may be facing, whether the crime involved a minor, and whether the matter is considered “dangerous” or “non-dangerous,” and other factors.  If a weapon or deadly instrument was involved in the crime, the offense is deemed dangerous. And, if dangerous, or if you there is a usable historical prior, a prison term is required.

Arizona Sentencing Laws

For a misdemeanor, as noted above, the Court can impose a jail term of 6 months for a class one, 4 months for a class two, and 1 month for a class 3. With the exception of a DUI, you can be placed on probation for up to 3 years.  A DUI can be up to 5 years. Probation may be supervised or unsupervised.

For a felony, matters are a little more complicated. When being sentenced for a felony, the Court may have the option of either sending you to prison or giving you probation. Under Arizona sentencing Law, the court is directed to begin by considering whether prison is appropriate. If you receive probation, you could receive up to 1 year in jail (not prison). The court can also impose counseling, work release or furlough, community service, restitution, or any other term it believes is a fair sentence given the nature of the crime.

The court will weigh all the factors noted, then weigh any aggravating or mitigating factors, and determine your sentence.

If probation is ordered, the Court can also consider other sanctions. The court can order a fine and require interest on any fine. Depending on when the crime was committed, the interest can be as high as 87% of the fine.  In addition, the court can impose, or be required to imposed statutory assessments. Those can be more substantial than any potential fine.

Jail costs may be imposed and be substantial.

The court can also impose counseling, work release, community service, restitution, or any other term it believes is a fair sentence given the nature of the crime.

Other sanctions could include the requirement of sex registration. Additional collateral consequences such as immigration, driving and professional licensing are NOT part of a sentence. The court has no control over those issues.  Rather, they are consequences that flow from the conviction.


In many cases, the only issue is developing the best plea possible, mitigating the damages and preparing for the sentencing. Knowing how to best present mitigating information requires experience.  I am a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist. If you or anyone you know has been accused of any felony or misdemeanor, please call for a free strategy session.