A Look at Arizona's Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The Impact of Criminal Sentencing Provisions

"Mandatory minimum" refers to minimum sentencing requirements for certain criminal offenses. All states have them, in large part because of the "war on drugs" which started largely in the 1980s. Have these mandatory minimum sentences actually reduced overall crime rates? That data is unclear.

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What is clear is that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, which has led to an overburdened prison system at a huge cost to taxpayers. But perhaps what has been most costly is the effect these mandatory minimums have had on families. Many believe that the mandatory minimum sentences are exorbitantly disproportionate to the crimes, and have done little more than perpetuate a cycle of criminal activity in poor and minority communities.

Without further commentary on the issue, take a look at Arizona's mandatory minimum sentences –

Sentencing for Non-Dangerous Offenses

First-time felony offenders (non-dangerous offenses)

  • Class 6 felonies: Minimum 6 months in prison
  • Class 5 felonies: Minimum 9 months in prison
  • Class 4 felonies: Minimum 18 months in prison
  • Class 3 felonies: Minimum 2.5 years in prison
  • Class 2 felonies: Minimum 4 years in prison

All non-dangerous first-time felony offenders are eligible for probation with the exception of certain drug offenders. For more information on mandatory sentencing for first-time offenders in Arizona, visit the ARS § 13-702.

Repeat felony offenders – Category 1 (non-dangerous offenses)

*Category 1 offenders are those who have been convicted of two felony offenses that did not take place on the same occasion.

  • Minimum sentences guidelines are the same as those for first-time felony offenders (non-dangerous)

Repeat felony offenders – Category 2 (non-dangerous offenses)

*Category 2 offenders are those who have been convicted of three or more felony offenses that did not take place on the same occasion.

  • Class 6 felonies: Minimum 1 year in prison
  • Class 5 felonies: Minimum 1.5 years in prison
  • Class 4 felonies: Minimum 3 years in prison
  • Class 3 felonies: Minimum 4.5 years in prison
  • Class 2 felonies: Minimum 6 years in prison

Repeat felony offenders – Category 3 (non-dangerous offenses)

*Category 3 offenders are those who are convicted of a felony with 2+ prior felonies in their criminal history.

  • Class 6 felonies: Minimum 3 years in prison
  • Class 5 felonies: Minimum 4 years in prison
  • Class 4 felonies: Minimum 8 years in prison
  • Class 3 felonies: Minimum 10 years in prison
  • Class 2 felonies: Minimum 14 years in prison

For more information on repeat offender sentencing in Arizona, visit the ARS § 13-703.

Sentencing for Dangerous Offenses

First-time felony offenders (dangerous offenses)

  • Class 6 felonies: Minimum 1.5 years in prison
  • Class 5 felonies: Minimum 2 years in prison
  • Class 4 felonies: Minimum 4 years in prison
  • Class 3 felonies: Minimum 5 years in prison
  • Class 2 felonies: Minimum 7 years in prison

For more information on minimum sentencing for dangerous felony offenses in Arizona, view ARS § 13-704. And if you or someone you know has been arrested or accused of a felony offense, dangerous or non-dangerous, contact a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer at MayesTelles PLLC today for a free consultation to learn your legal rights and options.

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