“New AZ Criminal Law helps felons accused of less serious crimes avoid prison; reduces Arizona costs; and provides relief for overcrowded prisons”.
News & Law Review By: Law Office of James Novak, PLLC, Phoenix DUI & Criminal Defense Firm
On March 21, 2012, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law “HB 2374 – Deferred Prosecution” Attached is a copy of the House Bill. In absence of legal challenge it is expected to go into effect July 2012. HB 2374 amends the current law A.R.S. § 11-361. In effect it liberalizes the law in favor of the defendant. It allows more opportunities to those charged with non-dangerous offenses, non-serious offenses, to participate in deferred sentencing and diversion programs, previously prohibited. It also allows those who have previously completed such a program to participate again for new criminal charges.
Deferred Sentencing or Diversion Program – Purpose of the Programs
The intended purpose and effects of the programs are bilateral for both the State and the Defendant:
• If a defendant agrees to participation in the program, and completes it successfully, the charges are permanently dismissed. The defendant receives confirmation of the dismissal by the Superior Court. If the defendant fails to complete the program, the charges will be reinstated; trial, conviction or sentencing will retroactively be continued where it left off.
• In theory, by participating in an appropriate program of professional counseling or treatment the person gets help they need to avoid the chance of repeating a criminal offense or recidivism in the future.
• Successful Diversion Programs help ease the strain on the overpopulated prisons
• The expenses of assessments and participation in the programs are the responsibility of the defendant. This saves the state the costs resulting from imprisonment as well as the diversion program.
Existing Criminal Law in effect until July 2012 – A.R.S. § 11-361
The current laws A.R.S. § 11-361 allows a defendant to participate in an approved program under supervision before entering a guilty plea or trial. The County Attorney of a participating county may not approve a diversion or deferment program for a defendant if they have:
1. Prior Felony Record;
2. Been accused of committing a “Dangerous Offense” Felony;
3. Previously completed a program established under this law
New Criminal Law Effects on A.R.S. § 11-361 due to HB 2374
The new law to become effective in July 2012, liberalizes A.R.S. § 11-361 by allowing the following defendants previously prohibited from being considered as candidates for the diversion programs and deferred sentencing:
• Persons previous convicted of a felony charge may now be considered for candidacy in the programs as long as the conviction is not for a Serious offense; Dangerous Offense; Sexual offense; or Dangerous crime against children.
• A person may now be considered for candidacy in the diversion program or deferred sentencing for persons who has previously completed a special supervision program.
• A person is prohibited from being considered for candidacy in the diversion or deferring prosecution of they have had three or more convictions for:
1) Personal possession of a controlled substance;
2) Personal possession of drug paraphernalia
Criminal Defense Attorneys for Deferred Prosecution, and Diversion Program
Participation in Deferred Sentencing, Deferred Prosecution, and Diversion Programs are not automatic and not an entitlement programs. A Defendant must be eligible for such programs, as agreed upon by the Prosecution, and Court based on factors such as nature of the crime, prior criminal record, attitude of the defendant towards reform, safety of community if the defendant is released after successful completion of the program. If retained, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be actively involved to help eligible defendants qualify for the program.
For more information regarding this new Arizona legislation visit: