Best Arizona Criminal Lawyers
Best Arizona Criminal Lawyers
If you have been charged with a crime in Arizona, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. An attorney who specializes in Arizona criminal law will understand the complexities of the state’s statutes and sentencing guidelines and will work tirelessly to build the strongest possible defense on your behalf. This article provides an overview of finding the best criminal lawyers in Arizona and the state’s laws regarding common criminal offenses.
Importance of an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona
Facing criminal charges can be an overwhelming and terrifying experience. The consequences of a conviction can haunt you for years to come, potentially affecting your family, employment prospects, immigration status, and more. An experienced criminal defense lawyer has the skills and knowledge to guide you through the legal process and protect your rights at every turn. They will thoroughly examine the prosecutor’s evidence against you, identify any constitutional rights violations or other procedural issues, negotiate with the prosecution for lesser charges or diversion programs, and build a compelling case for your innocence at trial if necessary.
An Arizona criminal lawyer who regularly handles cases similar to yours will know the local judges, prosecutors, and court procedures and use their familiarity to your advantage. They will advise you on the realistic outcomes so you can make informed decisions. And they have relationships with expert witnesses, private investigators, and other specialists who can strengthen your defense.
Navigating Arizona’s complex criminal justice system is extremely difficult without legal guidance. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of the prosecutors – make sure an experienced criminal defense lawyer is in your corner fighting for your freedom and future.
How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona
When seeking the best criminal defense representation in Arizona, there are several key factors to consider:
- Experience handling your type of criminal case – Look for an attorney who specializes in defending cases similar to yours, whether it’s drug crimes, DUI/DWI, domestic violence, sex crimes, white collar crimes, or homicide. An experienced lawyer will be intimately familiar with the elements of the charges, defenses that apply, and likely outcomes.
- Knowledge of Arizona criminal law – Ensure they have extensive knowledge of Arizona’s criminal statutes, case law, sentencing guidelines, and local court procedures. The complexities vary across jurisdictions, so local expertise is crucial.
- Courtroom trial experience – Even if you hope to avoid trial, it’s important to have a lawyer with litigation experience in case you do end up before a judge and jury. Look for criminal trial experience specifically.
- Negotiation skills – Often the best outcome in a criminal case is reached through negotiations with the prosecutor leading to reduced or dismissed charges. Your lawyer’s experience negotiating favorable pleas or sentences is key.
- Resources and reputation – The top criminal defense firms have extensive teams including investigators, forensic specialists, and legal support. A strong reputation with local prosecutors and judges is also valuable.
- Client communication – Ensure your attorney is responsive, keeps you updated on your case, thoroughly explains your options, and makes you feel comfortable and supported.
Consult state bar associations and attorney review sites, but also ask trusted local professionals like your bail bonds agent for referrals. Meet with a few criminal lawyers before deciding – most offer free initial consultations.
Overview of Arizona Criminal Laws
Below is an overview of some of the most common criminal statutes and penalties in Arizona that you may face charges under and will need strong legal representation for:
Arizona has strict illegal drug possession laws, classified from the most serious Class 2 felony to the least severe Class 6 felony:
- Possession of 3 grams or less of heroin, cocaine, meth, LSD – Class 4 felony
- Possession of marijuana – Class 6 felony
- Manufacturing methamphetamine – Class 2 felony
- Drug trafficking – Class 2 or 3 felony
Penalties for felony drug convictions in Arizona can include:
- Prison sentence ranging from 4 months to 28 years
- Fines up to $150,000
- Mandatory probation
- Drug counseling or treatment
Driving under the influence charges in Arizona fall under two main statutes:
- A.R.S. 28-1381 – DUI Impairment: prohibits driving while impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol or drugs. Penalties range from Class 1 misdemeanor to Class 4 felony based on number of prior offenses.
- A.R.S. 28-1382 – Per Se DUI: prohibits driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor rising to a Class 4 felony with multiple priors. There are enhanced penalties for extreme BAC levels.
In addition to fines, fees, alcohol classes, and jail time, all DUI convictions in AZ result in driver’s license suspension of at least 90 days.
Domestic violence charges under A.R.S. 13-3601 can include:
- Assault, aggravated assault, endangerment, threats/intimidation, stalking, disorderly conduct, damage to property, trespassing, kidnapping
- When committed against a spouse or partner, parent, child, or any household member
- Penalties range from Class 1 misdemeanor to Class 2 felony
A domestic violence conviction in Arizona prohibits the offender from owning firearms or ammunition. It can also limit child custody, visitation, and divorce settlement rights.
Various acts are criminalized under Arizona’s sexual assault and abuse laws, including:
- Rape – Class 2 felony
- Sexual abuse – Class 3 or 5 felony
- Sexual conduct with a minor – Class 2 or 6 felony
- Child molestation – Class 2 felony
- Sexual exploitation of a minor – Class 2 or 3 felony
Sentencing enhancements for sex crimes involving a minor under age 15 or where force was used can add years to prison terms and probation. Sex offender registration is mandatory upon conviction.
Theft crimes in Arizona include:
- Shoplifting – Class 1 misdemeanor
- Theft – Class 1 misdemeanor
- Burglary – Class 3 or 4 felony
- Robbery – Class 4 or 5 felony
- Armed robbery – Class 2 or 3 felony
- Auto theft – Class 3 or 4 felony
- Identity theft – Class 4 felony
Jail time, fines, and probation increase with the value of property stolen and use of a deadly weapon. Repeat offenses also increase penalties.
Violent felonies under the Arizona criminal code include:
- Murder – Class 1 felony
- Manslaughter – Class 2 felony
- Assault – Class 1 misdemeanor to Class 2 felony
- Aggravated assault – Class 3 to Class 2 felony
- Kidnapping – Class 2 felony
- Child abuse – Class 2 felony
- Endangerment – Class 6 felony
Sentences for violent crimes in Arizona range from 1 year to life in prison. Fines, fees, counseling, and probation may also apply. Sentencing enhancements for the use of a deadly weapon or causing serious injury/death can extend prison time significantly.
Finding an Arizona Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are under investigation or have been arrested for a crime in Arizona, do not delay in finding an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. A conviction can have devastating lifelong consequences that a zealous advocate may be able to help you avoid.
Carefully research criminal lawyers in your area and meet with several before choosing who to entrust with your defense. Given the complexities of Arizona criminal law and procedures, specialized legal representation maximizes the chance of the best possible outcome for your case.