In the state of Arizona, an individual accused of a crime could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. What is a misdemeanor in Arizona? In general, a misdemeanor refers to a critical offense that is not prosecuted as seriously as a felony. That being said, you could still be facing incarceration, fines, community service, or probation. Even if you are under the impression that a misdemeanor is a minor charge, you should consult with a Mesa criminal defense attorney to ensure that you are adequately informed about your rights and the possible penalties.

Arizona’s Misdemeanor Classifications

Arizona can charge an individual with one of three types of misdemeanors:

  • A Class 1 misdemeanor, which is considered the most serious misdemeanor charge. Some common examples are DUI, assault, criminal damage, disorderly conduct, theft, shoplifting, and driving on a suspended license.
    • Possible penalties for these charges are $2,500 in fines, three years of probation, and up to six months in jail.
  • A Class 2 misdemeanor, which includes examples like assault, criminal trespassing in the second degree, reckless driving, and criminal damage.
    • Penalties for a conviction of this type could be two years of probation, a $750 fine, and up to four months in jail.
  • A Class 3 misdemeanor, which is usually considered the lowest criminal offense in Arizona. Examples of charges include criminal speeding, assault, or criminal trespass in the third degree.
    • Penalties can still be severe even for a conviction of a Class 2 misdemeanor, including up to 30 days in jail, a year of probation, and a $500 fine.

Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for Misdemeanors

As you can see, the punishments for a conviction can still be severe. In many cases, your Mesa criminal defense attorney may be negotiating with the criminal prosecutor in your case to reduce or dismiss the charges. Your attorney could move your case forward by appearing to request an extension in order to continue negotiations. Rather than having you miss work time to appear in court, for these situations where your attorney is requesting more time, only he or she will need to appear. This maximizes your valuable time and gives you the peace of mind that a knowledgeable individual is fighting for the best outcome for your case.

Stages of a Misdemeanor Case

Usually, a misdemeanor case will be concluded between a three and six month period. The steps involved in a typical misdemeanor case in Arizona are:

  • Arraignment: This is your first official appearance before the case judge. Usually this involves filing a plea of Not Guilty so that your attorney can initiate discovery or continue negotiating with prosecutors.
  • Pre-trial conference: In this stage, the judge checks in to ensure that your case is moving towards either resolution or trial.
  • Trial readiness conference: The judge may use this as an opportunity to determine if your case is prepared for trial or if there are any other possible solutions on the table.
  • Evidentiary hearings: Your attorney may work at these hearings to suppress evidence.
  • Trial: If all the negotiations are unsuccessful, your case will proceed to trial. Depending on the specifics of your charges, this could be in front of a jury or a judge.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Mesa Criminal Attorney, Garrett L. Smith at 480-540-6021 log on to, or contact an attorney in your area.