When it comes to being charged with a crime, the consequences you face for a felony charge can be far harsher than those imposed for misdemeanors and can include hefty financial penalties, as well as the loss of your freedom and your reputation. Felony charges require the services of an experienced felony defense attorney who can help you to get the charges reduced or may even be able to get the case dismissed.
In Arizona, there are six classes of felonies, each of which carries presumptive sentencing of incarceration for a year or more. While judges have discretion when it comes to sentencing, it is generally assumed that the defendant — upon conviction — will receive a sentence that is close to what the state has determined is an adequate punishment for the crime. Violent crimes carry a mandatory sentence of a specific length of incarceration, with time served in state prison rather than in a county or municipal jail. Those crimes include:
- Repeat criminal offenses by the defendant. One of the many reasons to hire an experienced felony defense attorney to help with your case is that the consequences for subsequent offenses are almost always stricter than those experienced with a first-time conviction.
- Felony charges that involve violent crimes, in which another person is injured, killed, or there is an attempt or a high risk of causing injury or death to another person.
- Aggravated assault, which is defined as an attempt to cause serious harm to an individual with disregard for life.
- Assaults involving a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime.
- Assault and battery with a weapon.
- Crimes involving the use of a weapon, such as armed robbery.
When Should I Call a Felony Offense Attorney?
Felonies can result in harsh fines, incarceration, and other penalties that can include education or rehabilitation, community service, probation or parole requirements, and other consequences. Even a Class 6 felony, which is the lowest severity level of felony crimes in Arizona, can result in up to a year or more in prison. More serious classes of felony crimes can result in decades of incarceration, or even the death penalty. Making matters worse, because a felony appears on your permanent record, the conviction can impact your future ability to own firearms, vote, or even obtain a job when you are released from prison.
The criminal process generally starts either with an investigation into a reported crime or an arrest. You have constitutional rights throughout the criminal legal process that must be protected. Because of this, if you have been arrested or are being investigated for any felony crime, it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney right away so he or she can ensure that your rights are upheld, even during the arrest and questioning.
How Does Felony Defense Differ from Misdemeanor Defense?
Unlike misdemeanors, felony convictions appear on your permanent legal record and are available to view by the public in a number of situations, such as when you are applying for a job, for college, or even for an apartment. Your felony defense attorney will work to protect you from the harshest consequences of the law, generally focusing your defense on a resolution that will result in the fewest consequences. Some ways this can be accomplished include:
- Pressing for a case dismissal if the prosecution’s evidence is weak or if your rights are violated during the arrest and investigation.
- Challenging evidence that is presented to avoid having it used to help the prosecution’s case.
- Negotiating a deal with the prosecutor that will allow you to plead guilty to a lesser charge, therefore facing fewer consequences.
- Presenting evidence that will convince the judge to be lenient in sentencing.
While case dismissals, plea bargains, and the attempt at a lenient sentence are also facets of a misdemeanor defense, the stakes are a lot higher when it comes to felonies and often require a more aggressive defense.
Arizona Felony Defense Attorney Near You
Being convicted of a felony crime is stressful. You are, after all, facing a charge that can have major impacts on your ability to live and work in society. However, being accused of a crime does not automatically mean one is guilty of that crime. In order for a conviction to occur, the prosecution must be able to prove — beyond a reasonable doubt — that the crime was committed. An Arizona felony defense attorney has the legal training and experience necessary to ensure that your constitutional rights are protected and is well-versed on the methods of getting your charges dismissed or reduced. While dismissal is the simplest resolution to the case, your attorney will explore all pertinent options, such as negotiating a plea bargain or aggressive defense during the litigation process.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you hire a criminal defense attorney?
If you have been charged with a crime in Arizona, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In order to best protect yourself, politely decline to answer any questions until you have a lawyer present. An experienced felony defense attorney will give you the best possible chance at a favorable outcome in your case.
What makes a good criminal defense attorney?
When you are looking to hire a criminal defense attorney you want to make sure you choose someone who is experienced and will work hard to protect your rights. Here are a few questions you can ask a felony defense attorney before you hire them:
- What is your honest opinion of my case?
- Have you represented someone in a similar situation to me before? How did that case turn out?
- Who will be my point of contact at the firm throughout my case?
- How will I receive updates on my case?
What are the classes of felonies in Arizona?
There are six classes of felonies in Arizona. A class 6 felony is the least serious felony (for crimes such as theft and resisting arrest) and a class 1 felony is the most serious felony (for crimes such as first-degree murder).
PHOENIX CRIMINAL & DUI ATTORNEY NEAR YOU
Future First Criminal Law is a top-rated Phoenix, Arizona law firm with a practice dedicated to Criminal and DUI Defense. We represent clients all throughout the Phoenix area.
If you need help defending against felony any other criminal charges in Arizona, you need an attorney who will fight for your rights.
It’s understandable that you want to get this behind you, but don’t make the mistake of simply pleading guilty to the charges. A felony conviction will have severe, and long-lasting consequences, and you need to be aware of what they will be before making any decisions. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and to discuss your case with a felony defense attorney.