21 Aug 23

What You Need to Know about Arizona’s Three Strikes Law

| by

You definitely know what “three strikes and you’re out” means. Three strike laws employ a similar methodology to the baseball adage. The premise here is that repeat offenders get more serious sentences for their crimes, especially if the offense is committed three or more times.

Each state has its specific interpretation of the three strikes law. Such regulations do exist in Arizona, making it one of the 28 states that have such policies. In these states, the amount of time between the felonies varies for the three strike law to apply. The order in which crimes have been committed could also be taken in consideration to determine just how serious the penalty is going to be.

Here’s how the three strikes law is employed in Arizona.

Convictions That Count as a Strike

The three strikes law is also known as Arizona’s habitual offenders law. It refers to harsher punishments received by those who commit a violent felony three or more times.

Arizona has been having a three strikes law ever since 2005. More information about the specifics of the law can be found in A.R.S. 13-706.

According to the legal provision, there is a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for those convicted of a serious offense for the third time (excluding drug offenses). Here are the convictions that count as a strike under the law:

  • Dangerous crimes against children
  • Aggravated assaults, with a couple of exceptions
  • Arson of an occupied structure
  • Armed robbery
  • First degree murder
  • First degree burglary
  • Manslaughter
  • Kidnapping
  • Second degree murder
  • Sexual assault

The aggravated or violent felonies comprising the prior convictions should have been entered within 15 years of the conviction for the third offense. In addition, the sentence for the first conviction should have been concluded before legal proceedings for the second one started.

In the event of three strikes, the defendant becomes ineligible for probation, release, pardon or sentence suspension until they have served at least 25 years of their prison sentence.

Aggravated and Violent Felony Offenses

The three strike law envisions even stricter provisions for those who commit three strikes of an aggravated or a violent felony. In these instances, convicted individuals see an extension of the minimum incarceration period to at least 35 years.

Aggravated and violent felonies is a term that refers to a wide range of crimes. A few of the most common offenses that fall under the category include:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Armed robbery
  • Child molestation
  • Child trafficking
  • The commercial sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Drive-by shooting
  • First degree murder
  • Leading a criminal street gang or participating in one
  • Second degree murder
  • Prostituting minors
  • Terrorism
  • Unlawful introduction of diseases
  • Violent sexual assault

Do Non-Violent Crimes Count as a Strike?

As you can see, the law encompasses dangerous and violent crimes and counts these as strikes. How about felonies that are non-violent in nature?

While in some states the strike does not have to be a very serious criminal offense, Arizona has exact provisions as to what counts and what doesn’t. For a strike to count, it has to be of violent nature and the person needs to have previous felony convictions from separate incidences.

Click here for an article on three strikes law in Arizona.

Facing a Third Strike?

While three strike laws are being challenged across the US, they’re still valid in Arizona.

If you’re facing a third strike process, you still have your civil rights intact. You’re entitled to consulting a criminal defense attorney and the sooner you do that, the better. It’s also very important to refrain from self-incriminating yourself because the consequences of providing such information can be incredibly serious.

Attempting to negotiate a plea with the prosecutor in such situations is not a good idea, especially if you haven’t spoken to your criminal defense lawyer yet.

Click here for information on federal vs state charges in Arizona.