Violent offenses are considered to be those where a gun or knife is alleged to have been used against a victim. Violent offenses also include those where a person has suffered some kind of physical injury. Such offenses are generally charged as felony offenses by prosecutors. These kinds of offenses expose the accused to potential prison time. It is important to understand the charges and the sentence exposure to ensure the best decisions are made about a case.
Arizona has a class system of felony offenses ranging from two to six. A class two felony exposes a person to the most punishment while a class six exposes a person to the least punishment. Some charges contain “allegations.” These are stapled to the indictment or charge sheet and they function to make prison exposure longer. Allegations can be that a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument was used in the commission of the offense-think gun or knife. If a person is convicted of a dangerous nature crime and the allegation is either admitted to or proven to a jury, then there is more prison time to serve than if the allegation did not exist.
There are other allegations. If a person is alleged to have been ” on release,” that is, the person is pending another felony matter and is accused of committing the latest offense without having the earlier one resolved is exposed to more prison time. Generally, two years more is what the law provides if the allegation is proven or admitted.
Being on probation or on parole is something that can also be alleged and expose a person to more prison time. Prior felony convictions can also be alleged in allegations and expose a person to more prison time.
Prison and jail are different. Prison is the Arizona Department of Corrections and there are facilities all over the state. Jail is the Pima County Jail and there is only one.
How do violent offenses get charged? Who picks what to charge a person with? The prosecutor decides in the first instance. The criminal justice process should not be a mystery to anyone. A person is accused of committing a felony offense and the police or sheriff arrests him or her. The decision to arrest and charge is then reviewed by the prosecutor. This is called “issuing.” The prosecutor meets with the cop and they discuss what they know. They may not have the whole story. Most of the time they don’t have the whole story. No matter, the prosecutor alone gets to determine if they want to take the case farther or simply dismiss it. It helps to have an attorney who can communicate with the prosecutor at this early stage and try to get the charges dismissed or at least make an attempt to shape the charges. If the prosecutor decides that there is enough to move forward and there is a “substantial likelihood of conviction at trial,” the prosecutor has a choice in the next step.
The law provides that a felony case must be reviewed by a neutral entity. Think of this as a screening process to see if there is enough to move the case to the trial court or not. Neutral entities can be magistrate judges or a grand jury. If the case is to be heard by a magistrate then a preliminary hearing is conducted. If the case is to be heard by the grand jury. These are critical and complex legal proceedings. An accused person has many rights at these hearings and they should be informed about all of them so rights can be preserved and every effort can be made to ensure the best result.
No matter what type of charge you are accused of, you can be certain that attorney Altschuler has the skill and knowledge to defend you. In addition to defense against assault and all related charges, attorney Altschuler can defend against all other misdemeanor and felony violent criminal charges, including:
- Armed robbery
- Aggravated robbery