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Aggravating Factors and How They Can Impact Your Arizona Criminal Conviction

Aggravating Factors & How They Can Impact Your Arizona Criminal Conviction

Why Should You Prove That Aggravating Factors Are Not Relevant To Your Sentencing

Being convicted of a crime is already a horrible situation that no one wants to endure. You may already be subject to time in jail or prison, fines, community service, court-ordered classes, probation, and more. A criminal conviction could jeopardize your career, education, and even your relationships with friends and family. But Arizona courts have an interest in keeping criminals from harming the general public, so additional penalties can be imposed if aggravating factors are present in the commission of a crime. A major part of your defense will be proving why these aggravating factors shouldn’t be relevant to your sentencing. If you have any additional questions about aggravating factors and your Arizona criminal charges after reading the following, call our firm for your free consultation at 480-448-9800.

Conviction in Arizona

Arizona Aggravating Factors – A.R.S. § 13-701

Factors that make the crime more severe and punishable are called aggravating factors. Factors that should be used in favor of leniency towards the defendant are known as mitigating factors. Some crimes have specific aggravating factors. For example, in Arizona, the aggravating factors for a DUI are a passenger under 15, driving the wrong way down a highway, driving on a suspended or otherwise restricted license, driving while ordered to have an IID installed, or receiving 3 DUIs in 7 years. A DUI would typically be a misdemeanor in Arizona, but the presence of any of these factors increases the charge to a felony. Both aggravating and mitigating factors are set forth by A.R.S. § 13-701. The aggravating factors include:

  • If it isn’t already part of the criminal charge, inflicting or threatening to inflict great bodily injury
  • Use or threat of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • Use of an accomplice
  • The value of any property damaged in the commission of the crime
  • Especially heinous, cruel, or depraved conduct
  • If the crime was committed in exchange for pecuniary value
  • If the defendant was a public servant and committed the crime while on official duty
  • The victim or the victim’s family (if the victim died) suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm
  • The crime caused the death of an unborn child at any stage of development
  • If the defendant has a prior felony conviction from no more than 10 years ago
  • The defendant wore body armor while committing the crime
    • “Body armor” is given a broad definition under Arizona law. A.R.S. § 13-3116 defines it as “clothing or equipment designed in whole or in part to minimize the risk of injury from a deadly weapon.” Misconduct involving body armor is a Class 4 felony in Arizona.
  • The victim was 65 years or older or had a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • The defendant was an appointed fiduciary for the victim and violated those obligations
  • The defendant committed the crime out of malice for the victim’s group or perceived group (hate crime)
  • For a DUI, the driver had a BAC of 0.15 or higher
  • Lying in wait or ambushing the victim as part of the crime
  • The crime occurred in a child’s presence
  • The crime was committed in retaliation for the victim reporting a crime or being involved with a law enforcement agency
  • The defendant impersonated a peace officer
  • The defendant used either a remote stun gun or an authorized remote stun gun in the commission of the crime
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • If the defendant lured or enticed the victim away from a shelter meant for foster children, the homeless, etc.
  • If the defendant committed the crime out of malice toward the police
  • If the defendant wore a mask or disguise in the commission of the crime
  • Any other factors deemed relevant by the court

Aggravated Penalties

Aggravating factors can potentially add years to your jail or prison sentence after a criminal conviction in Arizona. For first-time felony offenders, there are standard prison sentences based on the degree of felony and presence of aggravating factors, set forth by A.R.S. 13-702.

  • Class 6: 0.5 to 1.5 years in prison, 2 years if aggravated
  • Class 5: 0.75 to 2 years in prison, 2.5 years if aggravated
  • Class 4: 1.5 to 3 years in prison, 3.75 years if aggravated
  • Class 3: 2.5 to 7 years in prison, 8.75 years if aggravated
  • Class 2: 4 to 10 years in prison, 12.5 years if aggravated

What Can I Do About Aggravating Factors in My Case?

If aggravating factors are present in your case, you could be facing even more time and penalties than you were original. There are a few ways you can go about navigating aggravating factors in your case. The number of aggravating factors and their severity will affect how much can be done about your sentencing. It is best to review your specific situation with an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney. For your free consultation, call 480-448-9800.

Cancel Out with Mitigating Factors

As mentioned above, A.R.S. § 13-701 lays out mitigating factors in addition to aggravating factors. They are:

  • The defendant’s age
  • The defendant’s capacity to understand the wrongfulness of their actions
  • If the defendant was under unusual or substantial duress
  • If the defendant had a minor degree of participation in the crime
  • If there was an accident, the defendant stopped and provided information as required by Arizona law
  • Any other factors deemed relevant by the court

Mitigating factors can be used to argue for a reduced sentence, but if there are several aggravating factors present, you can at least try to even them out with mitigating factors.

Show the Court You’re Proactively Working on Yourself

Sometimes, it can be useful to come before the judge already had completed anger management, drug and alcohol rehab, or any other treatment relevant to the issues that bring you to court in the first place. Our lawyers can help you find relevant and affordable programs that could convince the court that you should receive penalties on the lower end of the sentencing guidelines.

Try to Exclude Evidence of Aggravating Factors

In some cases, the evidence is so clear-cut that the best the defendant can hope for is a forgiving plea deal from the prosecution. However, evidence of aggravating factors may be circumstantial or obtained a significant amount of time after the crime occurred. If you can’t prove that you didn’t commit the crime, you can at least try to show the prosecution can’t prove aggravating factors necessary to increase your penalties. There could be constitutional violations or chain of custody errors that would make some of the evidence the prosecution wants to use against you inadmissible in court.

Find Character Witnesses

You may have the opportunity to have character witnesses testify to your good nature, or even write letters if they can’t appear in person. If the person is especially prominent in the community or known for charitable activities, their opinions could be more effective in convincing the judge to be lenient with your sentencing. However, the prosecution may also have the opportunity to use character witnesses against you. You should discuss your case with an experienced defense attorney if you plan on utilizing character witness testimony to negate aggravating factors.

Experienced Arizona Defense Representation Against Serious Criminal Charges

Whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony in Arizona, you should be taking the matter extremely seriously. Aggravating factors can mean a jail or prison sentence that could essentially destroy your life, and possibly your family’s as well. It’s crucial that you work swiftly on your legal strategy to decrease the amount of penalties you will face. To learn more about high-quality private defense representation with affordable prices and payment plans, fill our online form or call 480-448-9800 to schedule your free consultation.

Mesa DUI Lawyers
1731 West Baseline Rd., Ste 101
Mesa, AZ 85202
Office: (480) 833-8000

How Much Will a DUI Really Cost Me?

Our Mesa DUI Attorneys evaluate the true cost of getting convicted of Driving Under the Influence in Arizona.  It may cost you more than just dollars.  Read on and find the many ways a DUI conviction impacts your life.  If you are arrested and charged with a DUI in Maricopa County, contact our Mesa, AZ DUI Team for a free consultation.  Fight your charges, Don’t take a plea!  Our experienced criminal defense team can help.

During the holidays, especially during a pandemic, your budget may be tight. However, that doesn’t mean that calling a ride instead of driving yourself isn’t worth the expense after holiday celebrations that involve alcoholic beverages. Whether you live in Arizona year round or you’re just here for the holidays, it’s crucial that you know just how serious a DUI conviction is here. 

Arizona sorts DUI charges into separate categories, based on how intoxicated the driver was and if other aggravating factors were present. Drivers who are arrested with a BAC of .08-.149 will be charged with a per se DUI. However, drivers with a BAC of .04-.079 can be charged with DUI – Impaired to the slightest degree. Drivers with a BAC of 0.15-0.19 at the time of arrest will be charged with Extreme DUI, and a BAC of .20 or higher will yield a Super Extreme DUI charge. All of the aforementioned charges are misdemeanors, but the driver will be charged with aggravated DUI- a felony- if any of the following are met: there is a passenger in the car under the age of 15 at the time of the arrest; the driver’s license is already suspended, revoked, canceled, etc.; there is already an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle; or if this is the driver’s 3rd DUI in 7 years. 

Fines for a Mesa DUI

For a first time per se DUI, the minimum fine is $1,250. The judge may order higher fines if it would more effectively penalize the defendant. The minimum fines increase to $3,000 for subsequent DUI offenses. The minimum fine for a first extreme DUI is $2,500, which increases to $3,250 for subsequent offenses. 

Jail Time for an Arizona DUI Arrest

Arizona’s DUI laws are unique because anyone convicted, even as a first offense, will serve at least 24 hours in jail. Jail time can cost you in more ways than one. Judges have discretion to order far more than 24 hours in jail, which can mean taking time off of work to complete the sentence. You may also be ordered to pay for the time you spend in jail. In Arizona, a first night in jail due to a DUI conviction will typically cost about $200. Each additional night in jail will cost about $90. Jail time minimums increase with the charge of DUI, and a felony conviction yields at least four months in prison. 

Vehicle Impound, Loss of Vehicle Use

For extreme, super extreme, and aggravated DUI arrests, the vehicle will be automatically impounded by the police for 30 days. The impound lot may charge up to $15 per day of storage, or $450 for the mandatory 30 days. The impound lot will also charge an administrative fee of $150, bringing the total cost for a vehicle impound to $600 if the driver picks up the vehicle on the first day it is eligible for release. If the vehicle isn’t picked up within 10 days of it being eligible for release, the impound lot may file for an abandoned title to the vehicle. 

Ignition Interlock Device

An ignition interlock device is a device that requires a driver to blow into it, proving they are sober, before the vehicle will start. Drivers convicted of DUI will need to keep it in their vehicle for 3 months to 2 years. Installing and maintaining an IID isn’t cheap. You may need to pay an installation fee of a few hundred dollars, and the device itself will cost $80-120 per month depending on your provider. 

Auto Insurance Rate Increase

A DUI conviction will raise your auto insurance rates, and you may even be required to get SR-22 (high risk) insurance coverage after a DUI conviction. SR-22 rates are approximately 77% higher than standard auto insurance rates in Arizona. This can mean a yearly increase of $1,000 or more for your insurance premiums. 

Traffic School

The points added to your driving record by a DUI will not only increase your insurance rates, but typically require you to attend traffic school. You may also be required to attend alcohol screening as part of this course. You can expect to spend around $500 on this expense. 

Community Service

If you are convicted of DUI in Arizona, you will probably be required to complete at least 30 hours of community service. Traveling and supplies may cost you, and that is at least 30 hours of your time that could be spent working, spending time with your family, or simply relaxing. 

Property and Bodily Damage

Drinking and driving is illegal because it increases the likelihood of an accident, so it’s no surprise that many DUI arrests occur after the intoxicated driver causes an accident. If you injure another person while driving under the influence, they may receive additional damages against you in a personal injury claim. Depending on your insurance policy, you could be left with thousands of dollars in judgments against you after a DUI accident. 

Arizona DMV Fees

Your driver’s license will be suspended or revoked after a DUI conviction. To get it back, you will need to complete steps like traffic school and IID installation. There will be plenty of miscellaneous fees associated with getting your license back as well, like reinstatement fees, application fees, and any citation fees associated with your arrest. 

Opportunity Costs

A DUI conviction on your record will create hassles in almost all aspects of your life, for the rest of your life. It will be harder to get a job, an apartment, professional licensure, etc. It is impossible to calculate how much this will cost you financially in the long run. 

Contact our Mesa DUI Attorneys if Arrested for DUI in Arizona

After a DUI arrest, you will also be presented with the choice between representing yourself, opting for a public defender, or hiring your own private criminal defense attorney. You may be ordered to reimburse the county for some of your public defender fees if you are deemed to have the ability to do so. An experienced Mesa DUI Lawyer may cost you more up front, but may also be able to have your charges reduced, dismissed, or win your case at trial. To see if the cost is worth it for you, call today (480) 833-8000 to schedule your free consultation with one of our expert DUI lawyers.  Or click here.