Although character evidence may not be entirely exonerating for somebody, it is taken into consideration in settings, such as a plea negotiation and sentencing. Specifically at sentencing, under Arizona revised statute section 13 701, there’s a list of what are known as mitigating factors for a defendant, and of those, a good job, a family and being a generally good citizen can be put forth by defense counsel to ask the judge for a sentence on the low range of the scale. The mitigators that usually apply to this statute would be the age of the defendant. So if they’re a juvenile or elderly that can weigh in their favor.

One of the catch-alls is that any other factor that’s relevant to the defendant’s character or background or to the nature or circumstance of the crime can be used. So that’s where having a good job or a family can be a factor; then normally, if somebody has no prior criminal history, that would fall under being a good citizen in those circumstances. So I think those are very important factors to bring to a prosecutor or a judge’s attention when they are making a determination of what the potential sentence may be in a case.

How Do People Unintentionally Incriminate Themselves In A Criminal Investigation?

A good approach is to usually not make any statements about the subject of a case if it is a situation where there’s a warrant out for your arrest. Statements made without an attorney present can be potentially damaging. So in terms of unintentionally incriminating themselves, I think a lot of people have misconceptions that if you’re speaking to a police officer, you’re being compelled to speak, no matter what, but really, it’s usually a voluntary encounter. And if it does get to the point where it evolves into a lawful arrest and you’re being advised that you have the right to an attorney, that’s a right that you should invoke under those circumstances, not necessarily in the interest of avoiding a criminal conviction but more in the interest of allowing yourself a level playing ground with the police officer, who is very experienced in dealing with the subjects of a criminal investigation

What Is The Difference Between Misdemeanor And Felony Charges?

In Arizona a misdemeanor has a ranking classification. At the high end the top misdemeanor you can get is known as a class 1 misdemeanor that carries a maximum punishment of six months in jail. The setting of where you’ll be tried for a misdemeanor is different than a felony. Those are usually tried in the justice courts in Arizona or Arizona County, or the municipal court for each city. A felony has six different classifications by contrast.

These go all the way from a class 6 felony, which is the least punitive and serious, to a class 1 felony, which would be the most serious, such as first degree murder. There are potential prison consequences to committing a felony in the State of Arizona. The sentencing chart lays those all out; but if you are arrested for possession of marijuana, for instance, that would be a class 6 felony, which is charged by the county court and generally has a range, if you’ve had no prior felonies, of four months to two years in jail.

How Do You Advise Clients That Want To Plead Guilty To Criminal Charges In Arizona?

Even people who openly acknowledge that they’re guilty are entitled to a defense, and finding out the personal details of their life, the exact circumstances of the crime and their psychological evaluation bring insight to a defense strategy. Retaining the services of an outside expert or a mitigation specialist is another step that we take for clients who enter plea agreements acknowledging guilt, and sometimes the amount of time between throwing yourself at the mercy of the court and your sentencing can be up to six months because of all the fact-finding and sensitive issues that you want to provide for the court.

We have clients who are definitely guilty. They don’t want to go to trial on these crimes, but they benefit an incredible extent by having an attorney who knows how to present other facts about their character, their employment, their family and their upbringing to a judge so that the whole picture of this person is visible to the judge who hands down the sentence. So I think it’s very important for that process, and I think it’s essential to have an attorney involved there as well.

For more information on Impact Of Clean Prior Record, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (602) 794-4480 today.