What are Arizona’s Criminal Sentencing Guidelines?

flagstaff courthouse arizona

flagstaff courthouse arizona

Criminal sentencing guidelines exist at both the federal and state levels. Arizona sentencing for criminals follows a mandatory sentencing structure. This means that if you are convicted of a criminal offense in Flagstaff, Arizona, or elsewhere in the state, the judge will deliver a sentence that falls within a certain range that incorporates various predetermined factors.  

If you, a friend, or a family member have been charged with a criminal offense, it’s important that you consult with a criminal defense attorney. If you are unable to afford a criminal defense attorney and state law applies, the Arizona county in which you have been charged will provide you with one. Federal law applies, an attorney will be provided by the Federal government. 

What are Criminal Sentencing Guidelines?

Criminal guidelines for sentences exist to establish consistent criminal sentence standards for certain offenses. These guidelines are in place to help judges apply sentencing evenly and fairly to individuals who have committed the same or similar crimes. 

Though sentencing guidelines provide a range, various factors also influence the final sentence delivered by a judge. Depending on the factors of each case, the court may impose sentences that are harsher or more lenient. There are several factors that frequently influence the court’s decision. It includes prior criminal history, aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the nature of the crime, and much more. 

Certain crimes may have specific factors on top of more general considerations. The quantity of drugs in one’s possession, for example, is a significant factor influencing sentencing for drug crimes in Arizona. 

2021 Criminal Sentencing Guidelines

The Arizona State Legislature maintains an online version of the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) for legislative drafting purposes, which can be accessed here. The online version of the ARS reflects the law as it existed on January 1 of the current year. Arizona’s Criminal Code is laid out in Title 13, with sentencing guidelines covered in Title 13, Chapters 7 and 7.1.  

Arizona also publishes updated Criminal Code Sentencing Provisions with sentencing charts each year, which are also available online. You can review the 2020-2021 Arizona Criminal Sentencing Guidelines here, and find archives of sentencing guidelines for 2019 and prior years here

To ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information, consult the documents linked above. Refer to the relevant sections of the Arizona Criminal Code. 

General Crimes Sentencing Ranges

For non-dangerous offenses (ACS 13-702), there are five penalty categories: mitigated, minimum, presumptive, maximum, and aggravated sentencing. Each of these categories is further broken down by the felony class. As an example, a person convicted in Arizona of a class 2 felony without a prior conviction might receive a sentence of 3 years (mitigated), 4 years (minimum), 5 years (presumptive), 10 years (maximum), or 12.5 years (aggravated). 

Non-Dangerous Offenses – Repetitive Offenses

A person found guilty of repetitive non-dangerous offenses (ACS 13-703) will be sentenced according to the guidelines for repetitive offenders. Sentencing for repetitive offenders varies based on the person’s history. Assuming the person convicted above for a class 2 felony had one prior offense and was at least 18 years old and tried as an adult, they would be considered a category 2 repetitive offender and could face a sentence of 4.5 to 23 years in prison.  

Dangerous Offense

ACS 13-105 defines a dangerous offense as “an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person.” 

Sentences for Dangerous Offenses (ACS 13-704) are divided between three penalty categories (minimum, presumptive, and maximum). It is further categorized by felony class and other factors. An adult with no prior offenses who is convicted of a class 2 felony in Arizona will be sentenced to 7 to 21 years in prison.  

Dangerous Offenses – Repetitive Offenses

People with dangerous repetitive convictions face longer prison terms under Arizona Criminal Law. Instead of the minimum, presumptive, and maximum categories used for other dangerous offenders those convicted of repetitive dangerous offenses are subject to a sentencing range split between presumptive, maximum, and increased maximum penalties. A person convicted of their second class 2 felony dangerous offense, for example, could expect a prison sentence of between 10.5 and 26.25  years. 

Dangerous Crimes Against Children

Sentencing for Dangerous Crimes against Children encompasses a wide range of crimes and other factors that can influence the prison sentence and other penalties a person might face if convicted. Many serious offenses do not include a sentencing range, however. For example, those found guilty of a category A offenses under the Arizona Criminal Code face life in prison. You can read more about the sentencing guidelines for these crimes here: ACS 13-705

Serious, Violent or Aggravated Offenses

ACS 13-706 is a statute that increases a convicted defendant’s penalties when they have 2 or more prior convictions for serious criminal offenses. These increased or enhanced penalties often result in a sentence of life imprisonment. Under this statute, serious offenses include (but aren’t limited to) first-degree murder, second-degree murder, kidnapping, child sex trafficking, sexual assault of a child, first-degree burglary, armed robbery, manslaughter, sexual assault, and arson of an occupied structure. You can learn more about the offenses and sentencing guidelines covered by ACS 13-706 here


At Antol and Sherman, PC, in Flagstaff, AZ, our team of criminal defense attorneys combines more than 60 years of criminal trial experience. We have dedicated our careers to protecting the rights of those charged with criminal offenses. Our team has a former County Attorney, Supervising County Prosecutor, and Attorney General in its ranks. This gives us an unparalleled understanding of Arizona laws and court systems, particularly in Coconino County. 

If you’re facing criminal charges in Flagstaff, AZ, you do not have to navigate the criminal court system alone. Contact us today to set up a meeting with one of our criminal defense attorneys. We’re ready to fight for your best outcome. 

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