When a crime is more serious than a misdemeanor, it is considered a felony. When a felony crime in the state of Arizona meets certain requirements, it can be deemed something called a dangerous offense, which is even more serious than a mere felony. When a case is designated as a dangerous offense, it can serve to increase the penalties for a conviction of a crime. This means that if a person committed a crime and that crime met the threshold for being a dangerous offense, they could be facing much harsher penalties than they would if they were charged with the crime itself rather than a dangerous offense.
What Is a Dangerous Offense?
Arizona law defines a dangerous offense as a felony that involves either
- “the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or
- the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.”
For the purposes of this definition, a dangerous instrument is defined as anything that under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. Deadly weapon is defined under Arizona law as anything designed for lethal use, including a firearm. Additionally, serious physical injury is defined as an injury which creates a reasonable risk of death, or that causes serious and permanent disfigurement, serious impairment of health or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb.
If a felony meets either of these definitions, it is deemed a dangerous offense and will be treated far more harshly than the ordinary underlying crime would have.
How Could This Affect My Sentence?
Felonies in the state of Arizona are all organized by a class system. When it comes to dangerous offenses, felonies of each class that have been deemed a dangerous offense are sentenced within the guidelines of the chart shown below. Regardless of how the underlying felony would have been sentenced if it weren’t a dangerous offense, the court must follow those guidelines when providing sentences for dangerous offenses.
|Felony:||Minimum Sentence:||Presumptive Sentence:||Maximum Sentence:|
|Class 2||7 years||10.5 years||21 years|
|Class 3||5 years||7.5 years||15 years|
|Class 4||4 years||6 years||8 years|
|Class 5||2 years||3 years||4 years|
|Class 6||1.5 years||2 and 1/4th years||3 years|
All dangerous offense convictions require mandatory prison time of at least the minimum amount provided for the felony class, regardless of whether this would be a first conviction or if the underlying crime would have required prison time. Moreover, in cases involving a dangerous offense, mitigating and aggravating factors will not be considered in sentencing. This means that once you’ve been convicted of this crime, there’s little that can change the sentence you’ll receive. Additionally, people convicted of dangerous offenses are almost never eligible for parole, probation, or early release.
Experienced Dangerous Offense Lawyer in Yuma, Arizona
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge with the dangerous offense sentencing enhancement in Arizona, you might feel terrified. Criminal charges are a serious matter, with the dangerous offense statute only adding to the stress on you and your loved ones. This is why it’s imperative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Arizona to fight the charges alongside you. While dangerous offenses have more limited avenues for defense, these cases can be won and favorable outcomes are possible. As the oldest law firm in Yuma, the attorneys at Territorial Law have over six decades of combined experience zealously and relentlessly fighting for our clients. We understand that there are two sides to every story and that it is all too common that the justice system doles out unreasonably harsh penalties. Let us tell your story and protect you, your family, your life, and your future. Contact us as soon as possible for a free, confidential consultation so we can get started fighting for your rights and your future.