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Criminal Misdemeanor Charges
Misdemeanors come in three categories; class one, class two and class three.
- A class one misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of $2,500.00, six months in jail, and three years’ probation. Driving under the influence has a maximum probation of five years.
- A class two misdemeanor has a maximum penalty of $750.00, four months in jail, and two years’ probation.
- A class three misdemeanor has a maximum penalty of $500.00, 30 days in jail, and one year probation. For all fines an 83% surcharge and additional fees are assessed.
In most cases, no matter what class of misdemeanor we are dealing with, the minimum penalty is a suspended sentence.
When charged with a criminal offense, you have the right to remain silent and to be presumed not guilty. You have the right to plead not guilty and proceed to trial. If your matter is eligible for a jury trial, the judge will inform you of that when your case is called. At the trial you would have the right to confront and cross examine all of the state’s witnesses. You have the ability to subpoena and call your own witnesses and to testify on your own behalf. You have the right to be represented by an attorney. You may always hire an attorney. For misdemeanor cases, you are entitled to have an attorney appointed to represent you if you cannot afford one ONLY if your case involves a sentence that includes jail time. If an attorney is appointed, you may be required to reimburse a portion of the attorney fees.
If you have been charged with a criminal misdemeanor, your first Court appearance will be an “Initial Appearance/Arraignment”. The purpose of your “Initial Appearance/Arraignment” is to inform you of the charge(s) against you and the maximum and minimum penalties of the charge(s). At this time you will enter a plea to the charge(s).
You have the following plea options:
|A plea of Not Guilty means that you are denying the charge(s) against you at this time. It is the procedure used to move your case to the next step of a pre-trial conference (described below). At this time, you may request court appointed counsel but remember you are only entitled to court appointed counsel for misdemeanors involving a sentence of jail time. A Pre-Trial Conference will be set and you will be ordered to appear.|
|A plea of Guilty means that you are admitting that you did what you are charged with and that you want to give up all your rights without seeing the police reports or talking to a prosecutor about a possible plea agreement. It will result in a conviction for the charge(s). You may be sentenced at this time or Sentencing will be set at a later date.|
|A plea of No Contest means that you are not admitting or denying guilt for the charge. You are stating that you do not intend to contest the charge(s). It also means you want to give up all your rights without seeing the police reports or talking to a prosecutor about a possible plea agreement. In this case the Judge will find you guilty of the charge(s). It will result in a conviction for the charge(s).|
If you plead not guilty at arraignment, it is mandatory that you attend the Pre-Trial Conference. You should appear with your attorney, if you have one. The purpose of a Pre-Trial Conference is for you to meet with a Prosecutor to discuss you case. You will get a copy of the police report. This is the opportunity for you to discuss your case with a Deputy County Attorney, who represents the State of Arizona, to see if the matter can be settled without going to trial. Be advised, however, the person you are dealing with is an attorney that represents the State of Arizona. If you are representing yourself, the prosecutor is not there to give you advice or tell you what is in your best interest; you have to make that determination on your own. If you live more than 200 miles outside of the city limits, you have the option of requesting a Telephonic Pre-Trial Conference.
At the Pre-Trial Conference the Prosecutor will advise you of the sentence he/she intends to recommend in the event you are convicted. This would be considered a plea agreement. You will have the following choices:
You can accept the plea agreement with the prosecutor and change your plea to Guilty or No Contest. You can enter your Change of Plea at that time and be sentenced to the terms that you have agreed to in the plea agreement unless the Judge does not accept it. If this happens, you have a right to withdraw your change of plea. You have the option to reject the plea agreement and plead guilty to the Court or have the matter set for Trial at a later date.
If you decide not to take the plea offered by the prosecutor or plead guilty to the Court, your case will be set for trial. For certain charges you may be entitled to a trial by jury. A jury trial must be requested in writing. You would need to appear in person for your trial, with your attorney if you have one representing you. At trial the Prosecutor will present the State’s case. You or your attorney will have the right to ask each witness for the State questions in cross-examination. You may testify on your own behalf and present evidence. If you do testify, you will be subject to cross-examination by the Prosecutor. You also have the right to be silent at trial and the State must prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. At the end of the trial the Judge or jury will decide if you are Guilty or Not Guilty. If you are found Not Guilty, any bond that you have posted will be refunded. If you are found Guilty, you may be sentenced at that time or set for a sentencing date on another day. If found Guilty, you have the right to appeal the conviction and/or sentence by filing a notice of appeal within fourteen days from the sentencing date. For instructions on appeals go to Coconino County Law Library Website.
Please note that if your case is set for trial and you do not appear, you can be tried in your absence and found guilty of the charge(s) against you.
Advisory For All Criminal Charges
Please be advised you must appear for all court proceedings. Failure to appear could result in a warrant being issued, a new charge of failure to appear could be filed against you, and if your matter is traffic related your license could be suspended as a result of the warrant.
Please note: If you are not a citizen of the United States, pleading guilty or no contest to a crime or being found guilty of a crime whether by submission or by trial, may affect your immigration status. Admitting guilt or being found guilty may result in deportation even if the charge is later dismissed. Your plea or admission of guilt, or being found guilty, could result in your deportation or removal, prevent you from ever being able to get legal status in the United States, or prevent you from becoming a United States Citizen.