What Is Considered a Dangerous Offense in Arizona?

dangerous offense crime - word danger spray painted in red on concrete

What Is Considered a Dangerous Offense in Arizona?

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As everyone knows, felonies are harsher crimes than misdemeanors. For that reason, people convicted of felony crimes face serious penalties like large fines and time in state prison. 

However, there are some instances where the penalties for a felony can increase even more. If a person commits a dangerous offense crime in Arizona, they may be facing longer sentences and bigger fines. Let’s talk more about what dangerous offenses are and what happens if you are found guilty. 

What is ARS 13-704?

Arizona statute ARS 13-704 defines dangerous offense crimes in Arizona. A felony crime turns into a dangerous offense if the person committing the crime either: 

  • Uses, discharges, or “threateningly displays” a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • Intentionally or knowingly causes serious physical harm to someone else

Arizona law defines a “deadly weapon” as anything made for lethal use. This includes firearms, both loaded and unloaded. 

A “dangerous instrument” is anything that one person could use to seriously injure or kill another person. Dangerous instrument examples include knives, tools (like hammers), and heavy objects like bricks or pipes. A dangerous instrument can also be a destructive force like a fire or even a motor vehicle. 

How does a felony turn into a dangerous offense?

Here’s an example of how a felony can turn into a dangerous offense crime. A young woman stands trial for the Class 5 felony crime of theft of property. Under typical circumstances, if she is found guilty, the young woman will serve a prison sentence of 6 months to 1.5 years. 

However, during the trial, the prosecuting attorney shows evidence that the young woman threateningly displayed a knife when the person she was robbing returned home unexpectedly. The prosecutor also presents hospital documents proving that the young woman stabbed the homeowner with the knife.

Because the young woman used a dangerous instrument and knowingly caused injury to the other person, the judge could increase her charges to include a dangerous offense. 

How do penalties change for a dangerous offense crime?

Statute ARS 13-704 also dictates the penalties for dangerous offenses. If a person on trial for a felony crime used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or intentionally harmed someone, the judge may increase their crime to a dangerous offense. 

The amount of prison time for a dangerous offense increases depending on:

  1. The class level of the felony conviction
  2. The defendant’s criminal history

Going back to our example, the young woman is already facing between 6 months to 1.5 years in jail for a Class 5 felony. If she is found guilty of a dangerous offense, her prison time increases to a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 4 years. 

If the young woman had a prior felony conviction on her record, she may face between 4 to 6 years for a Class 5 felony dangerous offense. And, if she has two or more felony convictions, the prison time increases to 6 to 8 years.

In addition to increased prison time, people convicted of dangerous offense crimes are generally not eligible for parole, probation, or early release. 

Understanding Dangerous Offense Crimes in Arizona

Felonies are serious crimes in Arizona, but if a felony becomes a dangerous offense, the defendant faces a much longer prison sentence with no chance of getting out early. 

If you are facing felony charges, it’s critical to call a certified criminal law specialist like Todd Coolidge who understands what is at stake and can ensure your case does not turn into a dangerous offense. Make an appointment at Coolidge Law Firm today by calling 602-795-0770 in Phoenix, or 480-264-5111 in Chandler. 

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

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