What is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense, but it’s less serious than an offense that is classified as a felony. Misdemeanors are also broken down into class types based on how serious the offense alleged is. As per Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-601, those are Class 1 through Class 3 misdemeanors, with Class 1 offenses being the most serious.

Common Class 1 Misdemeanors in Arizona

If a criminal statute doesn’t specify what type of misdemeanor that an offense is, it’s automatically classified as a Class 2. Some common examples of Class 1 misdemeanors in Arizona include the following:

  • Driving under the influence.
  • Resisting arrest.
  • Assault with injury.
  • Threatening or intimidating.
  • Criminal damage to property.

As per section 13-601(B)(1) of the Arizona Revised Statutes, a conviction of a class one misdemeanor is punishable by the following:

Misdemeanor Criminal Procedure

Most cases involving a Class 1 misdemeanor charge are heard in the municipal courts. Some of them might be heard in local justice courts. No matter what court that a Class 1 misdemeanor is held in, there is the due process of law procedures that must be followed. Here is a summary of the sequence of those procedures:

  • The First Appearance: If a person remains in custody after being arrested on a Class 1 misdemeanor, he or she will be taken before a judge who will set the terms and conditions of release. An arraignment date will be set whereupon that person will likely enter a plea of not guilty. If the person is not in custody at the time of the first appearance, it will operate as an arraignment.
  • The Pretrial Conference: At the time of a pretrial conference, a defendant’s attorney is likely to obtain reports, records, and the like about the arrest and discuss possible disposition of the charge. Anything tending to negate the defendant’s guilt must also be provided by the prosecution.
  • Pretrial Motions: A quality criminal defense lawyer will review the evidence in a case and ascertain whether the arrest of the defendant was lawful. Pretrial motions might consist of a motion to quash an arrest or a motion to suppress evidence illegally seized. If such a motion is granted, the prosecution ordinarily dismisses the case or agrees to a lesser offense.
  • Trial: If no agreement on a disposition can be reached, a trial will be held. There are two types of trials. The defendant can choose between a bench trial when a judge hears the evidence and renders a verdict, or a jury trial when 12 people hear the case and render the verdict. The prosecution has the burden of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Impacts of a Misdemeanor Conviction in Arizona

Aside from that possible jail sentence and a hefty fine for a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction, there can also be other consequences. Most importantly in that context is that a permanent record of a conviction for a criminal offense can result. Here are some other examples of how a person might be impacted by that record:

  • Loss of the right to possess a firearm.
  • Denial of immigration petitions.
  • Suspension or revocation of driving privileges.
  • Increased car insurance premiums.
  • Loss of employment or employment opportunities.
  • Housing interference.
  • Loss of educational opportunities.

Most people have never been arrested before. They’re justifiably nervous as they really don’t know criminal law and procedure and what lies ahead of them. For purposes of preserving and protecting a defendant’s rights, a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney should be retained as soon as possible after an arrest.