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Felony DUI or Aggravated DUI is a serious offense. Compared to Misdemeanor violations, the consequences are much harsher, with the potential for much longer jail / prison terms, much more costly fines and fees, as well as losing certain rights such as voting and firearm ownership. There can be a huge impact to one’s employment, career, and housing options. Being charged with a Felony DUI can be overwhelming, but having someone who is experienced, and is not only specialized but focused on DUI Defense Representation, is tremendously important in helping you understand the law, and achieve a beneficial outcome.

Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences under Arizona Laws

Felonies are the most serious type of criminal offenses, and carry much harsher penalties, fines, and other forms of punishment.

In the state of Arizona, Felonies are classified as Class 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 under Arizona law. Penalties and sentences for each class of Felony crime are given below:

Class 1 Felonies

A Class 1 Felony is the most serious crime in the state of Arizona. First and second-degree murder falls under Class 1 felony. Punishments include death or life imprisonment in case of first-degree murder or 10 to 25 years imprisonment for second-degree murder.

Class 2 Felonies

Class 2 felonies in Arizona have a presumptive term of 5 years. The aggravated term is 12.5 years. Armed Robbery, Sexual Assault, and Arson are considered Class 2 Felony crimes.

Class 3 Felonies

Class 3 felonies in Arizona have a presumptive term of 3.5 years. The aggravated term is 8 years and 9 months. Anyone found in possession of more than 4 pounds of marijuana is charged with a class 3 felony in Arizona. Cultivating marijuana in Arizona also falls under this category of crime.

Class 4 Felonies

Class 4 felonies in Arizona have a presumptive term of 2.5 years. The aggravated term is 3 years and 9 months. Forgery, Kidnapping, and Robbery fall under Class 4 felonies.

Class 5 Felonies

A Class 5 felony charge carries a presumptive term of 2 years. The aggravated term is 2.5 years in prison. Aggravated Domestic Violence, Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation, and Rioting, fall under this category of crime.

Class 6 Felonies

The least serious Felonies are considered Class 6 Felony crimes under Arizona law. Class 6 Felony crimes carry a presumptive term of 1 year in prison, whereas the aggravated term is 2 years. In some cases, the judge may designate the class 6 felony conviction as a Class 1 Misdemeanor conviction, so the Defendant is sentenced accordingly.

In more serious felony cases, the judge may sentence a person convicted of a Felony to pay a fine of up to $150,000 plus surcharges. 

The Arizona Criminal Statute of Limitations defines the time period in which a criminal prosecution against the defendant must be filed by the prosecuting agency. Most serious Felony cases allow for a criminal case to be filed upwards of a few years after a crime has occurred, and in some cases, there is no deadline to file a case, allowing the prosecutor to file a case at any time. Whether you are facing a Class 1 Felony crime or a Class 6 Felony crime in Arizona, it is important that you get in touch with an Arizona Criminal Defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will help you obtain the best possible outcome and may even have your case dismissed, or reduced to a Misdemeanor conviction instead of a Felony conviction.

What Are the Differences between Felony and Misdemeanor DUI Charges?

Interviewer: What’s the difference between a Misdemeanor and a Felony DUI charge?

Brian Sloan: A person will be charged with a DUI if they are driving or in Actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, prescription medications, and/or a vapor-releasing substance, while impaired to the slightest degree.  A person can also be charged with a DUI if they are driving or in Actual Physical Control of a motor vehicle while having a blood-alcohol level above a prescribed limit (blood-alcohol level above a .08, blood-alcohol level above a .15, or blood-alcohol level above a .20), or having any drug or medication in their system that was not prescribed and/or not being taken as prescribed.

The default charge would be a Misdemeanor offense.

What can raise the DUI charge to a Felony Aggravated DUI charge would be if the person’s license to drive was suspended, canceled, revoked, refused, or restricted by reason of being previously suspected of a DUI; or it is their third DUI within seven years; or they have a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle; or they were required to have an ignition interlock device at the time; or if they were driving the wrong way on the roadway.

Felony DUI Charges Can Include Having a Minor Passenger in the Car

What a person is suspected of a DUI, while having a child under age of 15 in the vehicle, even if they have never been in trouble before the life, they will likely face a Class 6 Felony Aggravated DUI charge.

When a person is suspected of a DUI, while their license is suspended, canceled, revoked, refused, or restricted; or when it is their third DUI within seven years; or if they were ordered to have an ignition interlock device; or if they drove the wrong way on the roadway; the case will likely be charged as a Class 4 Felony Aggravated DUI

Penalties For A Felony Third-Offense Aggravated DUI In Arizona

An Aggravated DUI is defined by A.R.S. 28-1383 and is considered a Felony DUI charge. A First-Offense Aggravated DUI is a Felony and carries a mandatory prison sentence of at least 4 months in prison. A Second Offense Aggravated DUI charge in Arizona carries even harsher penalties, from 2.25 years, up to a maximum of 7.5 years in prison.

A DUI will be charged as an Aggravated Felony DUI if it occurs within 7 years of two previous DUI offenses, or any DUI in which your driver’s license was suspended, revoked, canceled, refused, or restricted due to a previous DUI arrest. In some cases, people get charged with a Felony Aggravated DUI when they were driving under the influence while their license was suspended or canceled, simply for not paying car insurance, or forgetting to resolve a traffic ticket. 

What is a Third-Offense Felony DUI?

A Third-Offense Felony DUI means you have two prior Felony convictions. They don’t necessarily have to be for Aggravated DUI. They can be for anything, as long as it is within the legal timeframe. It could be a prior Felony for Possession of Marijuana or it could even be a prior Felony for Theft.  Even if the offender was never sentenced to any jail sentence as a result of the prior Felonies, a third-offense Aggravated Felony DUI will carry a mandatory prison sentence, with the starting point being 10 years in prison.

A Third-Offense Aggravated DUI in Arizona carries harsher penalties than a first and second offense Aggravated Felony DUI. Similar to the penalties of a First-Offense Aggravated DUI Charge or a Second-Offense Aggravated DUI Charge, a Third-Offense Aggravated DUI charge also carries required extremely harsh minimum penalties. A summary of the penalties for a Third-Offense Aggravated DUI charge in Arizona is listed below:

  • Mandatory prison sentence of a minimum of 6 years
  • A maximum prison sentence of up to 15 years
  • Revoked driver’s license for at least 3 years
  • Supervised probation or parole after release
  • The probation or parole would likely require monthly visits to a probation officer, monthly probation fees, and random alcohol and drug tests.
  • There would be a requirement to enroll in an alcohol screening program and take alcohol abuse classes.

Because of the severity of outcomes on any Arizona DUI offense, It would be best to contact a Criminal and DUI Defense Attorney in Arizona if you are facing any DUI or Aggravated DUI charge. Call The Arizona DUI Team for a Free Initial Consultation at 602-384-8326.

Some people look at a driving under the influence charge as a minor one, but what they don’t realize is that a DUI conviction has life-altering consequences. Fortunately for Phoenix area residents, there are Phoenix DUI lawyers who fully understand how serious a DUI can get, and are prepared to fight to protect their rights.

For the members of the Arizona DUI Team, the only things that matter are the results of your DUI case, and we do our very best to get results that are favorable to you, whether it’s avoiding DMV suspensions, a dismissal of your DUI case, or a Not Guilty jury verdict. Your right to move on with your life and protect your livelihood is of paramount concern to us, and that’s why we make your defense our top priority.

At Arizona DUI Team, we approach every case as completely winnable. There is no such thing as a half-hearted defense as far as our clients are concerned. By listening and working with our clients, we get a complete picture of their concerns and goals, giving us the motivation to fight tooth and nail until we win the case, or at the very least, successfully minimize any possible damage from a DUI case.

This resolve and the results we have reaped over the years are what set the Arizona DUI Team apart from other firms.

DUI Consequences in Criminal Court

As previously mentioned, a DUI conviction can alter your life in many ways. For one, there’s always the possibility of jail time even for a first-time misdemeanor DUI offense. For another, a DUI convict may be made to pay hefty fines, attend AA sessions and alcohol education classes, and have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her car.

There’s also the fact that a DUI convict will have a permanent criminal record, whose impact in one’s life will be felt for years to come. A criminal record borne out of a DUI conviction can make obtaining professional licenses extremely difficult. The same goes for getting a job or getting into a good college or university.

Most DUI cases are only considered misdemeanors, but some are charged as felonies, which carry far worse consequences than a misdemeanor DUI conviction. A Felony DUI conviction usually comes with huge fines, longer drivers’ license suspensions, and long state prison terms.

A DUI can be categorized as a felony when it involves hit and run accidents, and accidents that involve great bodily harm to victims. In Arizona, an Aggravated DUI charge is prosecuted as a class 4 felony, and is slapped on drivers caught drunk driving while:

  • having two prior DUI convictions within the past 84 months, regardless of whether or not the priors were committed in Arizona;
  • using a suspended driver’s license for a previous DUI arrest, conviction, or refusing to take a chemical test;
  • having been ordered by a court to drive only with an ignition interlock device (IID).

A Class 6 Felony charge awaits those who are caught driving under the influence while someone younger than 15 years old is in the car.

DUI Consequences With The MVD

As far as state law is concerned, driving is a privilege, not a right. Once you get arrested for a DUI in Arizona, your license will automatically be suspended for 90 days. However, you have 15 days to request a hearing with the MVD, which is tasked with handling driving privileges separately from the criminal charge. The hearing allows you to challenge your license’s suspension.

If you fail to request an MVD hearing within 15 days of your DUI arrest, the affidavit of suspension issued by the police officer who arrested you will automatically go into effect, and you will no longer have any further recourse when it comes to your driver’s license.

You should also keep in mind that once that 15-day rule expires and your license automatically gets suspended, the suspension will stick even when the DUI charges against you are eventually dismissed. That is why it is absolutely important for you to request an MVD hearing within 15 days of your DUI arrest if you want to keep your license to drive.

The three stages of a typical DUI case in Phoenix

Arrest
A typical DUI case always starts when a police officer asks you to pull over on reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer will typically ask you questions, administer FSTs or field sobriety tests, or ask you to take a breath test, a blood test, or both. If the officer is convinced that there is probable cause based on the evidence he gathers or his own observations, you may be arrested for DUI. It will then be within the officer’s discretion to book you into jail, turn you over to a detox facility, or allow a friend or a relative to pick you up.

Admin Per Se/Implied Consent Hearings with the MVD

Upon your DUI arrest, the officer will issue you an Admin Per Se/Implied Consent Affidavit, on the back of which is stated that unless you request a hearing with the MVD within fifteen (15) days, your license will be automatically suspended for 90 days.

Should you put in a timely request, the MVD hearing will then serve as an opportunity for you to challenge the suspension of your license. An Administrative Law Judge will preside over the hearing, which is typically less formal than criminal proceedings in court.

The Criminal Court Process

Arraignment
The moment you are arrested for DUI, you will be issued a citation that contains information as to the date, time, and location of your arraignment, which is your first appearance in court. The judge will read the charges against you during your arraignment and will ask you whether you plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to those charges.

Pre-Trial Conferences

A DUI case typically sees several pre-trial conferences between you or your lawyer and the prosecutor. These meetings are meant to thresh out any legal or factual arguments about the case as well as negotiate a plea deal.

Filing of Motions

As with any other criminal case, a DUI case usually has the attorneys on opposing sides of a DUI trial introducing written motions designed to further their case. Oral arguments follow the written motions, and the presiding judge then pens a ruling that the defense and prosecution must abide by for the duration of the trial.

Trial

Should you refuse any plea agreement that the prosecution offers, your case will finally be tried in court. The state has to prove beyond reasonable doubt the charges against you, while your DUI attorney is tasked with instilling doubt into the minds of the jurors or judge about your guilt.

A typical DUI trial goes through various stages such as jury selection, opening statements by both sides, the prosecution, then the defense presenting their respective cases, closing arguments, deliberation by the jury, and the reading of the verdict.

Sentencing

If the jury convicts you of a DUI, the judge will then determine your sentence by taking into account the state’s recommendations as well as the mitigating factors that your attorney presented in the course of your trial. In Arizona, your sentence for a DUI conviction will typically include jail/prison time, probation, huge fines, alcohol treatment, installation of an ignition interlock device, and suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, among other things.

Consult with a Phoenix DUI Lawyer

If you find yourself being arrested for a DUI, the first thing that you have to do is contact a good Phoenix DUI attorney. Only a skilled and experienced DUI lawyer in Phoenix can answer your questions and review the facts of your case in order to draw up the best possible defense for you.

With his or her skills and experience, you can expect your DUI defense lawyer to be familiar with defenses that actually work in DUI cases. One such defense is arguing lack of probable cause for the initial stop. Another is challenging the field sobriety tests you were made to perform, citing the lack of science and the subjectivity of the tests themselves. Your lawyer can also raise issues about the calibration of the blood or breath-testing equipment.

A good DUI defense attorney, like the ones we have on the Arizona DUI Team, also knows how to attack the conduct of the arrest itself, especially if the arresting officer conducted an illegal or warrantless search on you, or if the officer had shortcomings when it comes to the admonitions or advisements they are supposed to give to drivers they stop. With the right approach, your DUI lawyer can beat the charges against you with these issues.

You don’t have to feel helpless if you get arrested for DUI in Phoenix. Aside from getting the services of a good DUI attorney in Phoenix, you can also do your own research and learn more about your case.

When you have a lawyer from the Arizona DUI Team representing you, you also won’t have to miss work or school to show up in court or at the MVD for your Admin Per Se/Implied Consent hearings. Your Phoenix DUI attorney should be able to handle everything about your case, and work towards getting a result that’s favorable to you and would allow you to get on with your life.

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A Cup Of Coffee With 10 Of The Top
DUI Attorneys In The United States

Guest Author: Attorney Brian Sloan

4,400+ DUI Cases Successfully Defended