Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQs

Q: Can domestic violence charges be dropped by the victim in Arizona?

A: Once a report has been made about a domestic violence issue, prosecuting the offender then falls into the state’s hands. This means that despite a victim wanting to drop the charges, the state will take over the case and move forward with pressing charges. However, in domestic violence cases, charges may be dismissed if there is a lack of evidence for the case, which is usually the result of a witness or victim who does not wish to cooperate. Often times, victims who want to drop domestic violence charges against offenders that are close to them make it more difficult for the state to make a conviction. However, Arizona imposes harsh penalties for perpetrators of domestic violence and an uncooperative victim may not be enough to get charges dropped.

Q. What crimes do you have to register as a sex offender in Arizona? 

A: Arizona has very strict laws regarding sexual assault offenses, and registration in Arizona often lasts an entire lifetime.

Sexual assault crimes that would result in a mandatory registration for a sex offender includes:

  • Sexual abuse of a minor
  • Kidnapping a minor that is not your child
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual conduct with a minor (statutory rape), especially repeated and continual conduct
  • Sex trafficking and/or prostitution of a minor
  • Sexual exploitation and/or sexually luring a minor

However, registering as a sex offender in Arizona is ranked on three different tiers.

  • Tier 3: This type of registration involves heinous and violent sexual assault crimes because the perpetrators represent a more severe risk. When registering as a level 3 sex offender, you can expect to have your name, photo and record sent to schools and neighborhoods near your residence, as well as potential employers. Additionally, a press release will be sent to the media detailing your record and information.
  • Tier 2: Sex offenders that are deemed to be a “level 2” offender may need to notify their registration to close neighborhoods and schools.
  • Tier 1: Registration information is only shared with roommates and other law enforcement agencies.

For all of these tiers, sex offenders only have ten days to register. Perpetrators of sexually violent crimes will not be allowed to live within 1000ft of public schools or daycare centers.

Q: What’s the difference between assault and aggravated assault?

A: There are key differences between a simple assault charge and an aggravated assault charge, which is typically defined based on the severity of the case. A simple assault charge, which frequently results in a misdemeanor charge, can be punishable up to 12 months in prison along with a maximum fine of $2,500. Simple assault charges are typically the result of the following factors:

  • Causing a physical injury to somebody
  • Intending to inflict a physical injury on somebody, or touching them with the intent of harm
  • Making someone else fear a possible infliction of harm

Aggravated assault charges stem from much more severe and malicious intent and action. An aggravated assault charge is a class 3 felony and can result in a much lengthier prison sentence and heavier fines. Aggravated assault charges may result from the following factors:

  • Causing severe physical harm
  • Physical harm was inflicted after trespassing on somebody’s private property
  • The victim is a public law enforcement agent, firefighter, teacher, public official, etc.
  • Assault was carried out with a deadly weapon
  • Victim’s injury results in disfigurement or a fracture, can be temporary or permanent

Essentially, the results of an aggravated assault charge are more serious than that of a simple assault charge. Malicious intent and severe injury is typical of aggravated assault cases.

Q: Can I get my car out of impound after a DUI?

A: Arizona has a strict, 30-day hold policy on vehicles impounded from owners who were charged with extreme DUI, aggravated DUI or underage DUI. Under A.R.S 28-3511 police are required to impound all vehicles for a 30-day minimum for all arrests made pursuant to these violations.

For those with an impounded vehicle coupled with a 30-day hold, there are ways to retrieve your car early under limited circumstances. For example, a spouse may be able to retrieve the impounded car early despite a hold, given that the spouse agrees not to let the offender drive his/her vehicle for one year or the length of the DUI license suspension. Additionally, any “co-owners” listed on the vehicle title are also able to get the car out of impound. Co-owners may include a financing company that granted a car loan to the offender, meaning that the financing company can help get the vehicle from impound. Read more

Q: Can you go to jail for a criminal traffic ticket?

A: The short answer is yes, you can go to jail for a criminal traffic ticket. The maximum penalties for a typical criminal traffic ticket include up to 6 months in jail for a class 1 misdemeanor. While an arrest is not guaranteed, you can legally be arrested for a criminal traffic ticket or face jail time after being convicted.

Q: How long do criminal convictions stay on your record in Arizona?

A: In Arizona, criminal convictions may stay on one’s record until they are 99 years old. However, Arizona has a process called “setting aside a judgment,” which is referred to as “expungement” in other states. This means that a criminal conviction may be dropped from one’s record given that they meet certain criteria.

In order for a conviction to be “set aside,” one must meet the following criteria:

  • Cannot be on probation
  • Substance abuse programs, anger management classes, required meetings, etc. all must be completed before a conviction is expunged
  • The crime cannot include (or be)
    • Serious physical injury
    • The use of deadly weapon(s)
    • Sexually motivated
    • A victim under 15 years of age
    • A driving violation during a license suspension

Q: How do you terminate probation early?

A: A.R.S § 13-901 details that probation may be terminated early given the offender has met certain criteria. However, it is generally recommended that they serve half of their probation sentence in order to have a better chance at moving towards dismissal.

The criteria for probation dismissal include the following:

  • Paying off all fines accumulated from charges
  • Fulfilling all necessary court requirements such as completing drug tests, attending mandated classes (such as anger management, substance abuse programs, etc.)

Meeting  these requirements makes it quite likely for early probation termination. This is especially possible for those with misdemeanor or less severe felony charges, and those who have committed their first offense. A good behavior report from a probation officer is also quite helpful for early dismissal.

However, meeting all of the above criteria may not be enough to grant early dismissal, even though it is quite likely. The judge will take a number of other factors into consideration, such as behavior throughout the entire process, the severity of the charged offense, past criminal convictions, etc. This process can take several months but has a number of benefits, including allowing you to apply to have the conviction expunged or “set aside” and making it easier to find employment.

Q: If drug charges are dismissed, can they refile? How long do they have to refile? What is the likelihood of refiling?

A: Dismissed drug charges can be refiled as long as the dismissal was not dismissed with prejudice. Drug charges dismissed without prejudice can be refiled. Dismissing a drug charge without prejudice is essentially the same as the charges never being filed.  A refiling is possible within 7 years from dismissal date.

Q: What are the penalties for a first time DUI in Arizona?

A: Arizona has strict laws and penalties in place for all DUI charges, even for first time offenders. An offender with a BAC over .08 may be subjected to the following penalties:

  • A minimum 1 day jail sentence with a maximum sentence of up to 6 months, depending on the nature of the DUI;
  • Fines amounting to roughly $2,500;
  • Suspended driver’s license between 90 and 360 days;
  • Probation for up to 5 years.

Q: What is the age of consent in Arizona?

A: The age of consent in Arizona is 18. Having sex with a minor who is under the age of 18, even consensually, would be considered sexual conduct with a minor, more commonly referred to as statutory rape. However, Arizona does have what is referred to as Romeo and Juliet laws. Romeo and Juliet laws allow for consensual sex between two young partners so long as they are not more than 2 years apart in age. However, this law only protects those between the ages of 15 and 19. Sex with a minor under 15 years of age is never legal and can be considered a class 2 felony. If the age difference is greater than two years, then both parties may be subject to criminal penalties.

Q: How do diversion programs work in Arizona?

A: Diversion programs are a form of alternative resolution in a criminal case. Diversion programs are plea agreements that often call for classes, treatment programs, or community service hours, that if completed, allow the criminal case to be dismissed. A diversion plea agreement a resolution that can be negotiated by your attorney or offered to you by the prosecution if you are unrepresented.

Examples of crimes that are likely to receive opportunities for diversion programs include minor shoplifting, personal possession of drugs  theft, and underage drinking. In many instances, diversion programs require you to pay restitution.

Q: Can your license be suspended for hit and run in Arizona?               

 A: Yes. In Arizona, your license can and often will be suspended for leaving the scene of an accident. If convicted of the crime of a hit and run you can expect anywhere from a 30 day suspension to a 10 year revocation.

Q: Can you be charged with domestic violence if there wasn’t any actual violence?

A: Yes, you can be charged with domestic violence without committing physical violence. There are a number of nonviolent offenses that are covered by domestic violence, such as:

  • Threatening or intimidating the victim;
  • Preventing the victim from using the phone in case of an emergency;
  • Damaging the victim’s belongings;
  • Trespassing on the victim’s property;
  • Sending nude photos of another person without permission;
  • Stalking;
  • Unlawful imprisonment.

Domestic violence charges require that the victim and the offender have some a statutory relationship prior to the offense. Domestic violence charges may result from the following relationships:

  • Victim and offender have a child together;
  • Victim and offender are married, formerly married;
  • Victim and offender are roommates or were formerly roommates;
  • Victim is pregnant with offender’s child;
  • Victim and offender are related legally or by blood (a legal relationship could include a guardianship);
  • Victim and offender are/were sexually or romantically involved;
  • Child victim and offender lives in the same household and are related by blood or by current/former spouse.

Domestic violence itself is not an actual crime, but rather an allegation to an underlying criminal offense. Domestic violence charges may increase penalties and sentencing for a specific crime.

Q: What’s the difference between aggravated DUI, extreme DUI and a regular DUI?

A: There are three main DUI classifications in Arizona: a regular DUI, an extreme DUI, and an aggravated DUI. A regular DUI charge results from driving with a BAC level greater than .08 but less than .15, while driving on a valid license. Typical penalties for a regular DUI include 24 hours in jail, a 90-day license suspension, an impounded car (the time of impound depends on the BAC level) and around $2,000-5,000 in fines. However, when the charge moves up to an extreme DUI or an aggravated DUI, the penalties become much harsher.

An extreme DUI results when the BAC is greater than .15. A super extreme DUI will result when a BAC is .20 or higher. An extreme DUI comes with an increase in penalties but is still a misdemeanor.

An aggravated DUI is a felony charge that occurs when a person commits what would normally be a misdemeanor DUI but they:

  • Their license is suspended – Class 4 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(1);
  • Received at least 2 prior DUIs in a 7-year period – Class 4 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(2);
  • Have a passenger under the age of 15 – Class 6 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(3);
  • Have a restriction for an ignition interlock – Class 4 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(4);
  • Drive the wrong way on a highway while committing a DUI – Class 4 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(5);

Q: Can I be charged with DUI if I wasn’t driving the car?

A: In Arizona, you can be charged with a DUI even if you were not actually driving the car. Arizona requires that the prosecution prove only that you were in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. The exact definition and facts that constitute actual are exactly what separate a good defense of DUI from a poor one. Determining whether someone was actually in physical control over the car is very circumstantial, but know that sitting in the driver’s seat, under the influence will normally give cause for a charge of DUI but won’t necessary mean a conviction.

 Q: Can I get a marijuana DUI if I have a medical marijuana card?

A: Under Arizona law, you are required to have a valid AMMA card if you plan drive after smoking marijuana. However, just because you have a valid card, doesn’t mean you won’t be charged with driving high (marijuana DUI). In addition to the requirement that you have a card, you are forbidden under Arizona law from driving if the marijuana impairs your ability to operate the vehicle. Evidence of impairment used by the prosecution generally comes from admissions made by the suspect, field sobriety tests and driving behavior.

Q: Can you get diversion for felony shoplifting? 

A: Yes, you can be eligible for a diversion program for felony shoplifting. Often times, first-time offenders may be allowed to complete a diversion program in lei of formal prosecution in order to earn a dismissal even if they are charged with a felony. Diversion programs may require completion of a series of classes, educational programs or community service, as well as potentially paying for restitution or other court fees. If an offender successfully completes a diversion program, the case will be dismissed, and the defendant will avoid a felony conviction. Felony diversion programs are often negotiated by attorneys on behalf of their clients and are generally not automatic.  

Q: What is the difference between defensive driving school and traffic survival school?

A: Defensive driving is an option for those who received points on their driver’s license for a specific violation and seek to have those points removed. In order to get the points removed, the offenders must attend the defensive driving class either in-person or online. One can only take a defensive driving class once per calendar year.

Those who accumulate 8 or more points in any 12-month period, you may be required to attend Traffic Survival School (TSS). TSS does not take the points off of your license like defensive driving does but rather is a form of punishment for accumulating too many points or commuting a serious driving offense. Convictions for the following offenses  require successful completion of TSS:

If you received a TSS mandate, and so not attend the class you driver license may be suspended for up to 12 months.

Q: If I am arrested for an alcohol related DUI, will they test my blood for drugs?

A: Typically, the state will not test your blood for drugs unless there is some indication that drugs may have been involved. Because testing blood for it’s alcohol concentration implements a completely different testing method test than testing blood for a specific drug, the State will generally not test blood for the presence of drugs in any sort of routine way. However, in DUIs with impairment but a low-BAC, drug related DUI investigations or DUI investigations that involve the person admitting to recent drug of marijuana ingestion, often times the prosecutor will seek addition blood testing.  If the blood test for drugs comes back positive, there may be additional penalties tacked on to the DUI.

Q: What type of felony is aggravated assault?

A: Aggravated assault can range anywhere between a class 6 to a class 2 felony, depending on the reason for the assault being “aggravated.” In Arizona, aggravated assault charges are the result of a misdemeanor assault charge being increased to a felony charge due to “aggravating” factors surrounding the case. “Aggravating” factors may include, but are not limited to:

  • Use of a deadly weapon or dangerous object
  • Inflicting severe physical injury on another individual
  • Assaulting someone while they are restrained or mentally incapacitated
  • Assaulting someone in violation of a restraining order, even with simple assault
  • Assaulting someone under 15 years of age as a legal adult (over the age of 18)
  • Trespassing on somebody’s private property and committing assault
  • Temporarily but significantly disfiguring or damaging somebody’s body
  • Any assault against a law enforcement officer or public employees such as teachers or paramedics
  • Trying (or succeeding) in gaining control over a law enforcement officer’s weapon

Q: What happens if I fail a drug test while on probation?

A: There is no single answer for what happens when someone fails a drug test while on probation. Generally, however, a failed drug test will result in a revocation of probation which may lead to the person being sent to jail or even prison. However, the judge may reinstate probation in lei of revocation or may increase the type of community supervision the person is currently under. Example: from unsupervised to supervised probation.

Q: What happens if I get a DUI while under the age of 21?

A: Getting a DUI while under the age of 21 has serious consequences in Arizona, specifically because the state has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving. When receiving an underage DUI , the offender will certainly receive criminal charges for any amount of alcohol consumer prior to driving. Additional criminal charges may be sought if the minor has a BAC above .08, .15 or .20.

Can I be arrested for selling my prescription drugs?

A: In Arizona, selling prescription drugs that are specifically prescribed to you, by a doctor, in order to treat a specific condition is illegal. You cannot sell drugs that are prescribed to you to others. Arizona has the 6th highest mortality rate for drug overdoses in the nation, and the majority of these overdoses are caused by prescription drug use. Because of this, Arizona law enforcement has cracked down on prescription drug dealing through an increase in prosecutions and arrests. Additionally, Arizona has strict laws for health care providers who grant prescriptions to patients who do not actually need the drug. Additional examples of crimes involving prescription drug fraud include: forging a prescription, using another person’s prescription, or altering a medical prescription (such as changing the dosage).