A Class 5 felony is the second-least severe type of felony in Arizona. A conviction comes with fines and usually between 6 months and 2.5 years in prison. If the offense was a dangerous crime, if there were aggravating factors, or if the defendant has a criminal background, however, the prison sentence can increase to 8 years.
1. What is a Class 5 felony in Arizona?
Class 5 felonies are a type of crime in Arizona.
There are 6 classes of felonies in the state:
- Class 1 felonies,
- Class 2 felonies,
- Class 3 felonies,
- Class 4 felonies,
- Class 5 felonies, and
- Class 6 felonies.
Class 1 felonies are the most severe. First-degree murder and second-degree murder are Class 1 felonies. Convictions for first-degree murder can carry the death penalty.
Class 6 felonies are the least severe kind of felonies. An example is the possession of less than 2 pounds of marijuana. These convictions carry between 6 months and 1.5 years in prison.
Class 5 felonies are among the least severe types of felony in Arizona. Many come with between 6 months and 2 years and 6 months in prison. However, the following factors may increase the prison sentence for a conviction:
- the offense was a dangerous crime,
- the victim was under 15, and
- the defendant’s criminal history.
While a Class 5 felony is less severe than many other felony offenses, it is still more significant than a misdemeanor or a petty offense.
2. What are some examples of these felony crimes?
Some examples of a Class 5 felony in Arizona include:
- public sexual indecency involving a minor,
- sexual abuse,
- aggravated domestic violence,
- animal cruelty,
- aggravated assault on a police officer,
- failure to appear for court,
- criminal damage of between $2,000 and $10,000,
- theft of property valued between $2,000 and $3,000,
- unlawful use of means of transportation,
- obstructing a criminal investigation,
- first-degree failure to appear,
- drug possession of between 2 and 4 pounds of marijuana, and
- attempting a Class 4 felony.
3. What are the penalties for a conviction?
A conviction for a Class 5 felony comes with the following penalties:
- court costs and additional fines of up to $150,000, and
The potential sentencing range will depend on:
- whether the offense was a dangerous or a non-dangerous crime,
- whether the offense was a dangerous crime against a child,
- the defendant’s criminal history, and
- whether the conviction was for a series of repetitive offenses.
The defendant’s criminal background can increase the sentencing range. Arizona courts look at how many historical prior felony convictions a defendant has had. The most common of these include convictions for:
- Class 2 or Class 3 felonies in the 10 years preceding the offense,
- Class 4, 5, or 6 felonies in the 5 years preceding the offense,
- aggravated driving under the influence (DUI),
- dangerous offenses,
- dangerous crimes against children, and
- offenses that carry a mandatory prison term.
Many sentencing ranges in Arizona have 5 potential prison terms:
- minimum, and
Some ranges only have 3 – the minimum, presumptive, and maximum terms.
At the sentencing hearing, the court will determine which prison term to impose based on the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors. A few of these factors include:
- the age of the defendant,
- whether the criminal conduct was especially heinous or disturbing,
- whether an accomplice was used to commit the offense,
- any serious injuries inflicted,
- whether the defendant had a deadly weapon at the time of the crime, and
- the defendant’s personal character.
Multiple aggravating factors can increase the prison term beyond the maximum term to an aggravated term. Multiple mitigating factors can reduce the sentence to a mitigated term, which is shorter than the minimum. See the Arizona felony sentencing chart.
Having a criminal defense attorney at this stage of the sentencing process is crucial.
3.1 Sentencing ranges for dangerous offenses
Arizona law distinguishes between dangerous and non-dangerous offenses. A crime is a dangerous offense if the defendant:
- knowingly caused a serious physical injury, or
- used, threatened the use of, or discharged a dangerous instrument or a deadly weapon.
Convictions for dangerous offenses come with longer prison sentences because they are considered more serious crimes. If the defendant is not a first-time offender and has a prior conviction for a dangerous felony, the sentence will grow even longer. Unlike other sentencing ranges, there is no aggravated or mitigated sentencing range for dangerous offenses:
|Number of prior felony convictions for a dangerous offense||Minimum term||Presumptive term||Maximum term|
|0||2 years||3 years||4 years|
|1||4 years||5 years||6 years|
|2 or more||6 years||7 years||8 years|
In some cases, a defendant will face multiple Class 5 felony charges at the same trial. If he or she is convicted for more than one at the same time, they will be sentenced as a repetitive offender. This means that the prison sentence will increase for successive convictions, as if the defendant had a criminal background:
|First conviction||2 years||3 years||4 years|
|Second conviction||3 years||4 years||5 years|
|Third and subsequent convictions||5 years||6 years||7 years and 6 months|
Dangerous offense convictions come with mandatory prison time. Generally, inmates in prison serving time for a dangerous crime are not eligible for:
- suspended sentencing,
- probation, or
- other forms of release.
3.2 Sentencing ranges for non-dangerous Class 5 felonies
Class 5 felonies that are not considered a dangerous offense use a different sentencing range. The range is based on how many historical prior felony convictions are on the defendant’s criminal background, regardless of whether they were for a dangerous offense:
|Historical prior felony convictions||Mitigated sentence||Minimum sentence||Presumptive sentence||Maximum sentence||Aggravated sentence|
|0||6 months||9 months||1 year and 6 months||2 years||2 years and 6 months|
|1||1 year||1 year and 6 months||2 years and 3 months||3 years||3 years and 9 months|
|2 or more||3 years||4 years||5 years||6 years||7 years and 6 months|
Defendants convicted of multiple Class 5, non-dangerous felonies are sentenced as repetitive offenders. The prison term can increase for each successive sentence:
|First-time offense||6 months||9 months||1 year and 6 months||2 years||2 years and 6 months|
|Second offense||6 months||9 months||1 year and 6 months||2 years||2 years and 6 months|
|Third and subsequent offenses||1 year||1 year and 6 months||2 years and 3 months||3 years||3 years and 9 months|
Defendants convicted for a non-dangerous crime are eligible for a suspended sentence that allows them to avoid state prison and spend their sentence on probation.
3.3 Sentencing for dangerous crimes against children
A dangerous crime against a child is a criminal offense where the victim is under the age of 15. In Arizona, these crimes have their own, harsher, sentencing range. The class of felony does not influence the potential penalties. Instead, the type of crime determines the potential sentences.
4. What is the difference between an Arizona felony and a misdemeanor?
Under Arizona criminal law, felonies are crimes that involve more severe criminal conduct than misdemeanors. Because the conduct is more egregious, the penalties of a conviction are also higher.
Felonies often involve crimes that include:
- non-consensual sex,
- inflicting serious injuries,
- taking valuable property, or
- using deadly weapons.
As a result, felonies are offenses that carry the potential for at least a year in prison. Misdemeanor convictions, on the other hand, can only carry up to a year in prison. Petty offenses are even less severe than misdemeanors. They do not carry any time in county jail.
5. How long do prosecutors have to file felony charges?
The criminal statute of limitations generally requires Arizona prosecutors to file criminal charges for a Class 5 felony within 7 years of the offense.
If the charges are not filed within this timeframe, a criminal defense lawyer can raise the statute of limitations as a defense to the allegations. If this defense is successful, the court will dismiss the charges.
 ARS 13-601(A).
 ARS 13-3405(B)(1).
 ARS 13-801.
 ARS 13-105(22).
 ARS 13-701.
 ARS 13-105(12)-(13).
 ARS 13-704(A)-(C).
 ARS 13-704(F).
 ARS 13-704(G).
 ARS 13-702 and 13-703.
 ARS 13-703.
 ARS 13-705(Q)(1).
 ARS 13-107(B)(1).