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An Example of a the Process of a Felony Case
Interviewer: Could you give me an example of a case that you’ve worked on that involved a felony charge?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: I handled an aggravated assault recently, where the person was in custody. They got taken into custody and their IA hearing was set the next morning. So I went to that IA hearing and we were able to have release conditions set. I was able to get that person released and the next court hearing was set.
Any Release Conditions Imposed Are Nullified by a Felony Case Being Scratched
When we turned up for that next hearing, the case was scratched, so at that point the person got leave, the release conditions went away, and they were able to live their life without worrying about the case.
About a month ago the case came up again. The direct complaint was filed by the prosecutor. They determined there was enough evidence, so now there’s a court date of June 6th.
In case they did decide to get an indictment through the grand jury route, I wrote what’s called the Trevis letter. I sent that to the prosecutor and offered exculpatory evidence in the case so that the prosecutor can present it to the grand jury.
Now, once the case starts going forward, we’ll have our first hearing date. Now, a first hearing in the felony cases in Arizona, they can either happen at the Regional Court Center or they’ll be sent immediately to trial group.
If they’re at the Regional Court Center, that’s the very initial stage of a case. There are a different set of prosecutors and judges that will oversee the case. At that level a person will get an initial offer. They’ll have about two to four weeks to think about that offer and whether they want to take it.
If a Felony Case Is Filed, the Attorney May Ask for a Deviation in the Negotiation Process to Obtain a More Favorable Offer for the Client
An attorney can do what’s called a deviation. A deviation is a negotiation process with the prosecutor where we can ask for a better offer. A deviation is done in writing. Usually it will happen through email.
We would send an email to the prosecutor requesting a better offer. That’s the benefit of getting a private attorney. Many times at that Regional Court Center, that very initial stage of a case, the public defenders don’t really have time to file these deviations requesting a better offer.
In Arizona, a Case Becomes More Serious Once It Proceeds to Trial
Interviewer: So they’ll just take that offer?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Yes. It’s part of a “take it or leave it.” If you hire a private attorney and there are issues with the case, we can do what’s called a deviation, so we can get it resolved at the initial level. Because once you affirm the case to the trial group, it’s Maricopa County’s policy that they’re supposed to say that the case will become more serious once you take it to the trial level.
What Type of Offers Do the Prosecutors Initially Present in Plea Bargain Negotiations?
Interviewer: What kind of offers can a prosecutor possibly present that wouldn’t look too favorable for your client? What sort of conditions may they have imposed or why?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: It will depend on the case, and it will depend on what issues someone has. For example, someone may face an aggravated DUI and it’s a Class 6 designated rather than undesignated. Someone might have an issue with having a permanent felony on their record.
Or, say it’s a Class 6 Felony and they’re given four months of jail, someone might have an issue with the amount of jail time. It will depend on what the offer is and what issues the person might have with that offer.
Common Questions after a Felony Case Has Been Scratched
Interviewer: Let’s say someone’s had a felony and their case has been scratched and they have a consultation with you. What are some of the common things that they want to know about?
Scratching Does Not Mean the Case Is Dismissed; Most Likely, It Means the Investigation Is Ongoing
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: First of all, they ask, so does this mean my case is dismissed? No, it does not. It doesn’t mean that your case is dismissed. It also doesn’t mean that the investigation isn’t going to continue on the case. Oftentimes, if it’s a more serious case, the investigation will be ongoing. There may be search warrants issued to search a person’s house. There may be interviews that are conducted.
Felony Classes in Arizona Range from Class 1 to Class 6; Class 1 Are the Most Serious Charge
Interviewer: Can we just go more into the penalties in felonies, just to get additional clarification on those?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Well, it depends, again, whether it’s a Class 1 to a Class 6. The Class 1 Felonies are the most serious, and it’s usually first and second degree murders are the only Class 1 Felony. This would be punishable by death or life imprisonment.
As an example, Class 4 Felonies have a different range. Theft of property worth between $3,000 and $4,000 would be a Class 4 Felony. A Class 5 would usually be a felony such as pimping or pandering, making money from or facilitating the prostitution of others. Class 6 Felonies are the least serious.
Penalties for Felony Convictions Can Include Substantial Fines
A person who’s convicted of a felony may have to pay a fine of up to $150,000. Then it will also depend on whether a person has prior felony convictions. If they do, that will depend on whether it’s allegeable or not allegeable, because if it is, then they fall into a higher sentencing category than they would if it was not allegeable.
Interviewer: How does the process for fines work? Do they have to pay monthly or do they set up some sort of plan with them?
Fines Can Be Paid to the Court through a Monthly Payment Plan
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: They do. They usually set up a monthly payment for the person, and then they’ll assess a monthly timed payment fee, which is usually $20 to $30, so that the person can make those monthly payments.
Interviewer: Could it be automatically deducted or does a person have to mail a check in?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: They can set it up the way they want to with the court.
Interviewer: If it’s $30 a month and they’ve got a pretty high fee, they’re going to be paying for a long time.
A Probation Period May Be Imposed for the Length of Time an Individual Is Paying the Fine
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Yes, that is right. Many times judges will set probation for a longer amount of time, so it gives the person more time to pay off their fines and fees. With the aggravated DUI case, the judge may give two years, but they may end up deciding to give three if the fines and fees are very high so it gives the person a longer amount of time to pay those fines and fees off.
It Is Possible to Apply for an Early Termination of Probation
Interviewer: Is there any leniency about ending probation early for good behavior?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: If a person is on probation for two years and they’re doing well on it and they’ve paid off their fines and fees, they can petition their probation officer to terminate them early. They may be able to reduce their probation time by having it petitioned to terminate early.