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Understanding Arizona's Mandatory Sentencing Scheme

Last updated 6 years ago

If you’ve been charged with a crime, it’s important to understand the sentencing guidelines that could be used if you are convicted. One important feature of criminal law in Arizona is mandatory sentencing. This requires convicted criminals to serve a pre-determined minimum amount of jail time regardless of behavior or mitigating factors. Let’s take a look at how mandatory sentencing works and how it can affect you:

In states without mandatory sentencing laws, judges can sentence a convicted criminal based on loose guidelines that are determined by state law. However, the judge is given full discretion to determine what a reasonable penalty is given the context of the criminal act. For example, two homicide cases in a state without mandatory sentencing could end with the same legal conviction, but have very different sentences applied.

Arizona’s mandatory sentencing laws restrict judges’ leniency in criminal cases by requiring a minimum sentence regardless of mitigating factors. For example, a class 2 non-dangerous offense carries a minimum of three years in jail, and maxes out at 12.5 years with sufficient aggravating factors. This means that regardless of the circumstances surrounding the event, you’ll never serve less than three years in jail.

For those charged with criminal offenses, this poses serious problems. It limits the amount of flexibility that your criminal defense attorney has to negotiate with prosecutors, which means that you can still spend several years in prison despite cooperation with the courts, accepting plea bargains, or the presence of certain mitigating factors. The only way to escape jail time is to hire an attorney that can help you avoid a conviction completely.

For the very best criminal defense attorneys in the valley, contact Blumberg & Associates. We’re Arizona’s leading attorneys specializing in family law, personal injury, criminal defense, and more. Visit us online or call (602) 277-6180 for a free consultation.



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