Difference between Felonies and Misdemeanors: Q. and A.

AZ Criminal Defense Lawyer | Felony | Misdemeanor | AZ DUI Defense

Q. What is the Difference between a Misdemeanor and Felony in Arizona?

A. The main differences between an Arizona Misdemeanor and Felony involve the severity and nature of the crime; and of the severity and nature of the penalties. Some differences include the following:

1) Felonies are usually more serious crimes than misdemeanors; Examples of felonies include such offenses as aggravated assault, homicide, sexual abuse or rape crimes, arson, aggravated DUI, kidnapping, illegal drug sales, drug smuggling, drug manufacturing, serious drug charges and more. Felony penalties are far more severe, and usually result in life long adverse consequences if convicted. Felonies usually carry a minimum sentence of 12 months or more; Felony Charges are classified from Class 1 to Class 6, with the least severe Class 6 and the most severe, categorized as Class 1 felonies. Class 1 felonies carry sentences that range from 25 years to life in prison or a death penalty. These are reserved for the most serious of charges such as homicide.

2) Misdemeanor charges are generally less serious. Examples include criminal trespassing, theft of property below a certain value, non-aggravated DUI, underage drinking, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of Marijuana for personal use, and more. In addition to other penalties including fines, fees, costs, probation, and other punishments, they carry maximum jail sentences of less than one year;
Q. Does the Sentencing by the Judge differ with Felonies verses Misdemeanors?
A. Yes. If convicted of misdemeanor charges, the judge will usually make a determination of sentencing on the same day as the conviction of the guilty verdict, by trial or guilty plea by defendant.

For Arizona felony convictions, the judge usually requests a pre-sentence report to be completed and will schedule sentencing for generally 30 days or following the guilty verdict. You have the right to have your views included in the pre-sentence report. The defendant has the right to complete a Victim Impact Statement questionnaire or letter to be included in the pre-sentence report for the judge to review.

Q. Which Court will I need to go to if charged with a Felony or Misdemeanor in Arizona?
A. The court which a case will be heard should be documented on the complaint you received at the time you were charged, or following your arrest. It will include the name of the court, date, and time, for which you will be required to appear.

In general, Misdemeanor charges are usually handled in the Arizona Justice, Municipal or City Courts where the charges for issued. For example, if you live in Tempe Arizona, but you received a non-aggravated DUI charge in Phoenix AZ your case will be schedule for hearing in Phoenix Arizona.

Felony Charges in Arizona are usually handled in Superior court. However felony preliminary hearings can sometimes be held in the lower courts.

Q. Who Should I Hire to Defend Me for Felony for Arizona Misdemeanor Charges?
A. If you face either a criminal misdemeanor or felony charges, you should contact a licensed AZ DUI or AZ Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. Most criminal lawyers defend both Felony and Misdemeanor DUI charges. Start with consulting an experienced criminal attorney who defends charges regularly in the city or jurisdiction where your received the charges. They will provide you with information concerning the charges and your defense options. Most criminal and DUI attorneys will provide you with a free consultation by phone or in person at their discretion.

Q. What Should I look for to find a good Felony or Misdemeanor Defense Lawyer?
A. In Arizona, both Felony and Misdemeanor Charges are serious. A good DUI & Criminal Defense Attorney should have years of DUI and criminal defense experience and a significant amount of trial experience. Many of the best criminal defense attorneys in Arizona are former prosecutors. This provides you with an advantage for your defense for many reasons: they are familiar with the courts, judges, prosecution, procedures, and the entire criminal justice processes. You want a DUI or criminal lawyer up to date on current laws and changing legislation in Arizona relating to criminal and DUI charges. Make sure your Attorney will be accessible and open to direct communication for answers to any and all questions you may have. A proven Arizona criminal lawyer will do everything possible to attempt to get your charges dismissed, reduced or the otherwise best outcome in your case.


This blog has been posted for general public informational purposes only. All articles by this author are intended to raise awareness and generate discussion on a variety of Arizona State Law issues and topics. Note that Arizona legislation, laws, criminal code and DUI laws and penalties frequently change. If you have a criminal or DUI defense matter related to this topic, it is important that you consult or hire an Arizona criminal or AZ DUI lawyer in the jurisdiction or municipality of Arizona where you received your charges of up to date information.

If you have an outstanding warrant for arrest in Arizona or have been arrested in Maricopa County for AZ DUI, DWI, Drunk Driving or any other criminal charges contact the Law Office of James Novak, for your Free Consultation at (480) 413-1499. Speak directly with experienced Arizona criminal Defense and DUI Defense Attorney and James Novak (Former Prosecutor). The Law Office of James Novak is devoted 100% to defending DUI, Drug & criminal charges in valley wide within Maricopa County including Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert Arizona, East Valley, AZ and surrounding cities in Phoenix metro area.