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What is a Felony?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Aug 08, 2017 in Criminal Law

police officer arresting suspectIn criminal law, a felony is considered to be the most serious type of violent and non-violent criminal offense. If a person is convicted of a felony, he or she will likely suffer significant legal consequences and reduced rights as a U.S. citizen.

If you or someone you love has been charged with committing a felony offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Phoenix immediately to discuss your legal options. At the Phillips Law Group, our attorneys will fight for your rights during the criminal trial process and will work to obtain the best outcome possible for you.

What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

The U.S. legal system divides criminal offenses into two categories based on the severity and nature of the crime: misdemeanors and felonies.

A misdemeanor is generally considered to be a minor criminal offense that is treated much less serious than a felony. This can include non-violent crimes like minor drug possession.

A court will usually punish a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor by sentencing him or her to less than one year in a county jail or having the convicted defendant pay a moderate fine and serve probation.

A felony, however, is an offense that is often defined as one that is punishable by a prison sentence greater than one year in a state of federal penitentiary.

Because the punishment for felony convictions holds significant penalties, a person charged with one of these crimes is usually given a courtroom trial that is strictly observed by a judge to protect the defendant’s rights.

What Types of Crimes are Considered Felonies in Arizona?

A felony crime is an offense that involves inflicting violent physical harm upon a victim or an offense that severely deviates from the moral standards held by most members of a society.

Arizona categorizes felonies into six classes based on the severity of the crime:

Class One Felony

Class one felony crimes include the most violent offenses, such as first and second degree murder.

Class Two Felony

A class two felony in Arizona includes:

  • Possession of dangerous drugs that are intended to be sold
  • Trafficking stolen property in the first degree
  • First degree burglary with a firearm
  • Theft of property worth $25,000 or more
  • Sexual molestation of a child

Class Three Felony

A class three felony includes:

  • Theft of means of transportation, such as car theft
  • Theft of property valued at more than $4,000
  • Burglary in the second degree

Class Four Felony

Class four felony crimes include:

  • Simple possession of dangerous drugs, such as methamphetamine
  • Growing marijuana for use other than medicinal purposes
  • Theft of property worth more than $3,000

Class Five Felony

Class five felony crimes include:

  • Theft of property worth more than $2,000
  • Personal possession of more than two pounds of marijuana
  • Possession of less than two pounds of marijuana that is intended to be sold
  • Unlawful use of means of transportation (driving a stolen vehicle)

Class Six Felony

Class Six felony crimes include:

  • Personal possession of marijuana for non-medicinal use
  • Unlawful use of means of transportation (riding in a stolen vehicle)
  • Theft of property worth more than $1,000

Each of these offenses holds extreme consequences in Arizona and can severely impact the life of someone who is convicted of a felony offense.

What are the Penalties for Being Convicted of a Felony in Arizona?

Under ARS 13-702, the penalties for first-time felony offenders is based on which class the offense is categorized under, with class one felonies holding the most severe consequences.

Based on Arizona’s felony classification system, the state penalizes defendants convicted of felonies to the following sentences:

  • Class one felony for first-degree murder: punishable by life in prison or death
  • Class one felony for second-degree murder: punishable by a sentence of up to 25 years
  • Class two felony: punishable by up to 12.5 years in prison
  • Class three felony: punishable by up to 8.75 years in prison
  • Class four felony: punishable by up to 3.75 years in prison
  • Class five felony: punishable by up to 2.5 years in prison
  • Class six felony: punishable by up to two years in prison

Along with possibly serving significant time in prison, an Arizona court can also impose a fine on a person as part of his or her sentence of up to $150,000 per any felony charge.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Phoenix

If you or someone you love is facing a felony charge, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to review your legal rights.

Our qualified attorneys are ready to provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to review the crimes you have been accused of committing and explain the possible penalties you may be facing under Arizona law.

Complete our Free Case Evaluation form to get started.

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