What Happens after a First Offense Misdemeanor in Arizona?

first offense misdemeanorGoing through the first time criminal offense process is scary because you’re probably not understanding the procedural specifics and the eventual repercussions.

If you’ve committed a misdemeanor offense, you could benefit from some leniency, especially if you have a previously clean criminal record. Here are some of the essential steps that will occur after a first-time misdemeanor offense.

Different Misdemeanor Classes

There are three misdemeanor classes – a Class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious and a Class 3 misdemeanor is the least grave situation. The sanctions and the ways in your Arizona criminal defense attorney will address the process are both dependent on the class.

The maximum penalties for a Class 3 misdemeanor include up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to 500 dollars. First-time misdemeanor offenders, however, will usually incur less severe penalties. Diversion programs are available to misdemeanor offenders and these can bring down the scope of sanctions.

Plea bargaining is also possible to reduce the sentence.

Class 2 misdemeanor offenders face up to four months in jail and penalties of about 750 dollars. Some examples of Class 2 misdemeanors include reckless driving, assault or criminal trespassing in the second degree.

Class 1 misdemeanors carry a maximum punishment of up to six months in jail and fines of up to 2,500 dollars. Assault that causes physical injury, DUIs, shoplifting, domestic violence and the possession of marijuana will all contribute to Class 1 misdemeanor charges.

These sanctions apply to first time offenders. A person that has a prior misdemeanor will be sentenced at the next higher level of misdemeanor for a repeat offense. Thus, a person that previously committed a Class 3 misdemeanor will be sanctioned under Class 2 misdemeanor rules the next time around.

Can You Go to Prison on Misdemeanor Charges?

In Arizona, misdemeanor crimes do not carry a prison sentence. As you’ve seen already, however, there could be jail time and financial sanctions for first-time offenders. Even if you’ve never committed a crime in the past, you should approach the situation seriously. Neglecting the scope of implications could lead to life-changing consequences.

Apart from the immediate consequences, you should also think about the long-term implications of your misdemeanor.

What Will Happen in Court?

The court process when it comes to Arizona misdemeanor charges will take anywhere between three and six months. Depending on the specifics of the case, the time could be shorter or longer than the average.

The steps that will occur as a part of the court process usually include the following:

  • Arraignment: the first appearance before the judge, which is more of a formality but could also be used to determine the release conditions
  • Pre-trial conference: an opportunity for your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution and to come up with a more favorable arrangement
  • Trial readiness conference: a last-resort option to see whether it would be possible to avoid going to trial
  • Evidentiary hearing: used by your attorney to potentially suppress some of the evidence
  • Trial: if negotiations and pre-trial procedures fail producing a satisfactory outcome, you’ll have to go through court trial in front of a judge and a jury

Click here to find out what can you expect if you are being charged with a misdemeanor in Arizona.

Long-Term Implications of Misdemeanor Charges

People convicted of a misdemeanor, even if it happens to be their first offense will face a scope of more long-term consequences than the immediate sanctions.

Depending on the scope of the criminal offense and the agreement reached with the prosecution, a misdemeanor conviction could be included in one’s permanent criminal record.

Having a misdemeanor conviction on record could eventually affect access to employment or educational opportunities.

One misdemeanor conviction on record will also contribute to more serious sanctions a second time around.

Click here to find out what is a preliminary hearing in a criminal case in Arizona?