22 Dec Can You Vote if You Have a Felony in Arizona?
Felonies are the most severe type of crimes, and they carry the toughest penalties. While most people understand that a felony crime conviction includes jail time and fines, they may not realize they can lose certain rights if they plead guilty to a felony. One of these rights is the right to vote. Depending on the felony, you may or may not be able to get back your right to vote. Let’s take a closer look at voting rights in Arizona and how they change with a felony conviction.
Felonies and Voting Rights in Arizona
In the state of Arizona, there are six classes of felony crimes:
- Class 1: The most serious type of felony punishable by life in prison or possibly capital punishment. Examples of Class 1 felonies are first-degree and second-degree murder.
- Class 2: Penalties for these felonies, such as manslaughter and armed robbery, include jail time for between 5 to 12.5 years.
- Class 3: Penalties for this felony level are prison terms of 3.5 to 8.75 years in jail. Examples of Class 3 felonies include aggravated assault and kidnapping.
- Class 4: Penalities for these felonies, such as forgery or falsifying a public record, including jail time of 2.5 to 3.75 years.
- Class 5: This level of a felony is punishable by 1.5 to 2.5 years in prison, and includes such crimes as animal cruelty and failure to appear for court.
- Class 6: The least serious type of felony punishable by 1 to 2 years in prison. Examples of Class 6 felonies include criminal impersonation and indecent exposure to a child under 15.
If convicted of a felony crime, Arizona ARS 13-904 suspends the following civil rights:
- Voting rights
- The ability to hold public office
- Jury duty
- Ability to possess a firearm
There has been recent news coverage of some convicted Arizona felons who were falsely told they could have their voting rights restored. Under Arizona ARS 16-182, it is illegal to register someone to vote without going through the proper challenges to get those rights returned. If someone illegally attempts to register a convicted felon without first getting their rights returned, they can face charges under ARS 16-182, which is a Class 6 felony.
How can I get back my voting rights in Arizona?
The state of Arizona handles each case of restoration of voting rights differently, depending on how many felony convictions the defendant has.
Under Arizona ARS 13-912, if convicted of a single felony crime, the defendant’s right to vote is automatically restored as soon as they complete their entire sentence. That means they will not be able to vote until they satisfy all aspects of their sentence—jail time, probation, and fines. In this case, the defendant’s voting rights are automatically restored, and they do not need to reapply.
If the defendant is convicted of two or more felonies—either in one single case or in individual cases—then they must ask the court that sentenced them if they can have their voting rights returned. When petitioning a court for voting rights, the decision is left completely up to the judge.
- Under Arizona ARS 13-905, if the defendant’s sentence was for probation only, they can petition the court as soon as they complete probation.
- Under Arizona ARS 13-906, if the defendant’s sentence included prison time, they must wait two years after finishing their sentence and any parole before asking the court.
- Defendants who receive lifetime sentences in prison will remain on the list of who cannot vote in Arizona.
Defend Your Right to Vote in Arizona
Arizona has some of the toughest penalties when it comes to felony crimes. Not only do you face jail time, expensive fines, and probation, you also lose many of your civil rights and public benefits. If you are facing felony charges and want to keep your voting rights in Arizona, you need a certified criminal law specialist Todd Coolidge at your side. Call us or send us a message today to schedule a consultation in Phoenix or Chandler.
Photo by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash