When you or someone you care for is arrested, your mind immediately goes to the worst-case scenario. Even if the offense is a minor misdemeanor, you might wonder how a conviction will affect your future job prospects, if there will be a trial or even wonder “will I go to jail for a first offense misdemeanor?” Educating yourself on the laws in your state can alleviate some of the unnecessary wondering. In Arizona, there are three classes of misdemeanor crimes, Class 3 being the least serious offense, carrying the lowest potential punishment.
Class 3 Misdemeanor Crimes in Arizona
There are a number of offenses that constitute Class 3 misdemeanors in Arizona. These include certain animal and farming related crimes, such as regulation of egg and egg products violations, pesticide violations, concealment of livestock killed or injured by railroad or motor vehicle, and transporting equine in a cruel manor. More common Class 3 offenses are excessive speeding, assault by offensively touching another person, criminal nuisance and loitering. All Class 3 misdemeanors are defined by Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-601(B)(2), which can be found on the Arizona State Legislature website, azleg.gov.
Possible Fines and Punishments for a Class 3 Misdemeanor Conviction in Arizona
The fine and sentencing ranges for Arizona misdemeanors are found in ARS 13-707. For a first offense, the punishment for a Class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona is up to one year of unsupervised probation, up to a $500 fine plus surcharge and up to 30 days of jail time. However, if you have a prior conviction for the same offense within the past two years, you will be sentenced under the guidelines for the next higher class of offense, Class 2 misdemeanors. Class 2 offenses carry a possible sentence of 0 to two years of unsupervised probation, up to a $750 fine plus surcharge and up to 120 days in jail. The specific punishment is determined by the judge hearing the case and will depend on the circumstances of the crime.
What Happens After an Arrest for a Class 3 Misdemeanor in Arizona
Although the hearing schedule may vary depending on the judge assigned to your case, after an arrest, the first court appearance is generally the initial appearance or arraignment. At this appearance, the charges are read into the court record, potential penalties are discussed and you can enter an initial plea. A case schedule, including a trial date, will be set at the arraignment. Following an arrest may be a pre-trial meeting where a plea agreement might be discussed with the prosecutor in the case. If you reach a plea agreement with the prosecutor, the court will set a sentencing hearing where the prosecutor will present the plea agreement, the judge will either accept or deny it and the judge will pronounce the sentence or fine. Finally, if no plea is reached, there will be a trial after which, if you are convicted, the judge will determine the sentence or fine.
"Set Aside" Is Available for Class 3 Misdemeanor Convictions
Unlike many states, Arizona has no expungement or sealing laws, which are laws that effectively erase an arrest or conviction from your criminal record. Arizona law instead provides for a Set Aside, which is a notation to a criminal record showing that you have completed your sentence, paid all fines and fees and no longer have any pending charges. However, this conviction is still part of your permanent record. Although convictions for crimes including those involving the infliction of serious physical injury and crimes where the victim is a minor under 15 years of age cannot be set aside, all Class 3 Misdemeanors are eligible to be Set Aside.