The Arizona felony sentencing chart is a visual representation of the potential prison terms that defendants can face if they are convicted of a felony offense. It shows the sentencing range for nearly all classes of felony, including for dangerous crimes, repetitive offenses, and for defendants with prior convictions.
The precise sentence for each case is determined by a judge at a sentencing hearing.
1. What is the Arizona felony sentencing chart?
The felony sentencing chart for Arizona is a grid of potential prison terms for Class 2 felonies through Class 6 felonies.
For non-dangerous offenses, Arizona’s criminal code creates a felony sentencing chart that looks like this:
|Number of historical prior felony convictions||Sentencing range||Class 2 felony||Class 3 felony||Class 4 felony||Class 5 felony||Class 6 felony|
|0 (first-time offender)||Mitigated||3||2||1||0.5||0.33|
|2 or more||Mitigated||10.5||7.5||6||3||2.25|
For example, if someone with no historical prior felony convictions is convicted for a Class 6 felony and sentenced to an aggravated prison term, they will spend 2 years behind bars.
For non-dangerous but repetitive offenses, the sentencing chart is:
|Numbered offense||Sentencing range||Class 2 felony||Class 3 felony||Class 4 felony||Class 5 felony||Class 6 felony|
|Third or subsequent offense||Mitigated||4.5||3.25||2.25||1||0.75|
For dangerous offenses, the prison sentences are longer and there is no aggravated term or mitigated term. The sentencing chart is:
|Number of prior convictions for dangerous felonies||Sentencing range||Class 2 felony||Class 3 felony||Class 4 felony||Class 5 felony||Class 6 felony|
|2 or more||Minimum||21||15||12||6||4.5|
For dangerous, repetitive offenses, the sentencing ranges change under the state’s criminal law. Instead of a minimum, presumptive, and a maximum term, the minimum term is the presumptive term and there are 2 maximum ranges. The sentencing chart looks like this:
|Offense number…||Sentencing range||Class 2 felony||Class 3 felony||Class 4 felony||Class 5 felony||Class 6 felony|
|1||Minimum / presumptive||7||5||4||2||1.5|
|2||Minimum / presumptive||10.5||7.5||6||3||2.25|
|3 or subsequent||Minimum / presumptive||15.75||11.25||10||5||3.75|
Class 1 felonies, like first-degree murder or second-degree murder, are not included in the chart because they can be punishable with life in prison or the death penalty.
2. How do I read these sentencing guidelines?
To read these felony sentencing charts and understand the potential prison time for a conviction, do the following:
- determine if the offense was a dangerous offense,
- determine if the charges are for a series of repetitive offenses,
- add eligible prior convictions,
- determine the class of felony being charged, and
- cross-reference with the applicable sentencing range.
The numbers in the chart are the number of years in prison that can come with a conviction. Many sentences involve only parts of a year. For example:
- .25 is 3 months,
- .5 is 6 months, and
- .75 is 9 months.
For example: Larry has been accused of theft, which is a non-dangerous crime in the state of Arizona. The charges involve 3 separate incidents of theft, making this a repetitive offense. He refers to the chart for non-dangerous, repetitive offenses. Because he is accused of stealing $10,000, the charge is a Class 3 felony. Based on the sentencing ranges, the conviction for the first and second offenses carry between 2 years and 8 years and 9 months in prison, each. A conviction for the third offense would carry between 3 years and 3 months in prison and 16 years and 3 months in prison.
3. What is a dangerous offense?
A dangerous offense is one that involves either:
- the knowing infliction of a serious physical injury, or
- using, discharging or threatening someone with a dangerous instrument or a deadly weapon.
4. What is a repetitive offense?
A repetitive offense is a string of multiple offenses that did not occur at the same time, but were consolidated for trial.
For example: Mary is charged with 4 counts of domestic violence for 4 different aggravated assault incidents that happened over the course of a year.
While convictions for repetitive offenses happen at the same trial, incidents that happened early in the string of criminal events can increase the prison sentence for those that happened, later on. Repeat offenders spent more time in prison for subsequent offenses than for earlier ones.
5. What is an eligible prior conviction?
An eligible prior conviction is a previous criminal conviction on a defendant’s record that will increase the prison term of the current conviction.
For dangerous crimes, a prior conviction is only eligible if it was for a felony-level offense that was also a dangerous crime.
For non-dangerous crimes, the prior offense is eligible as a prior conviction if it is a historical prior felony. These include:
- Class 2 or Class 3 felonies that happened in the 10 years before the incident,
- Class 4, 5, or 6 felonies that happened in the 5 years before the incident,
- dangerous crimes against children under the age of 15,
- dangerous offenses,
- convictions for aggravated driving under the influence (DUI), and
- offenses that have a mandatory prison sentence.
6. What do the sentencing ranges mean?
The sentencing ranges are the potential prison terms.
For non-dangerous offenses, there are 5 sentencing ranges:
- minimum, and
For dangerous offenses, there are no aggravated or mitigated sentences; only a minimum, maximum, and a presumptive sentence.
Which sentencing range is used will depend on the presence of any aggravating or mitigating factors during the offense.
Mitigating factors include:
- the defendant’s inability to fully understand the wrongfulness of his or her conduct,
- any duress that the defendant was under at the time, and
- the defendant’s age, background, and personal character.
Aggravating factors include:
- the value of any property taken,
- the use of a deadly weapon,
- the use of an accomplice, and
- the age of the victim.
If multiple aggravating factors are proven by prosecutors at the sentencing hearing, then the court can impose an aggravated sentence, which is the longest sentencing range. If multiple mitigating factors are proven, then the court can impose a mitigated sentence that is shorter than the minimum. A skilled criminal defense attorney can make a big difference at this stage in the process.
7. What about misdemeanors?
Under Arizona law, misdemeanors carry shorter jail sentences. Because there are fewer classes of misdemeanors, there is no distinction between a dangerous and a non-dangerous offense, and because repetitive offenses are not treated differently, misdemeanor sentencing does not require a sentencing chart to fully understand.
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