What Are Dangerous Criminal Offenses in Arizona?
Criminal offenses are classified in several ways in Arizona. Dangerous offenses are a separate category that is explained in more detail in Arizona Revised Statute 13-604.The Legal Definition of Dangerous Offense
A dangerous criminal offense is defined as causing serious physical injury or discharging, using or exhibiting a deadly weapon in public. The use of a dangerous instrument will also contribute to the same charges.
A dangerous instrument can be used just about anything. An object is used with the intent to harm or threaten another person will be classified as a dangerous instrument.
If the prosecution can prove the dangerous nature of a criminal offense, the perpetrator will face mandatory incarceration.
The term dangerous can be added to a wide array of criminal activities, increasing the potential sentence the defendant will have to serve in the event of being found guilty. Some of the common crimes that could be classified as dangerous include:
- Armed robbery or burglary
- First, second degree murder and manslaughter
- Child and elder abuse
- Aggravated assault
- Disorderly conduct
Investigation, Criminal Process and Defense
Whenever there’s a suspicion of a dangerous crime being committed, the investigative process is going to be aggressive and thorough. Such crimes endanger society, which is why law enforcement professionals and the prosecution will do their best to find evidence and build a strong case against the alleged perpetrator.
Physical evidence at the crime scene, witness interviews and expert testimonies could all be utilized to clarify the nature of the crime. Medical records will also be obtained if there’s a victim that has suffered harm, injuries or death.
The severity of the crime will be dependent on the scope of endangerment or physical harm. Getting in a fist fight and bruising someone does not carry the same penalties as stabbing a person with a knife. In the first case, you will probably have to deal with Class 4 felony charges for aggravated assault. A knife injury that leads to a coma, however, will contribute to dangerous crime charges and the prospects of having to serve a lengthy prison sentence.
Even if you are a first time offender, the prison sentence is mandatory for a proven dangerous crime. The number of days you’ll have to spend in prison is also going to be longer than the incarceration for someone who has committed a similar, non-dangerous crime.
In the example above, a non-dangerous aggravated assault perpetrator could face solely probation for a first time offense. Alternatively, the sentence will range from one to 3.75 years in prison. If the dangerous nature of the crime is proven, however, the prison sentence will be extended to a period in the range from two to 8.75 years in prison.
How to Challenge Dangerous Offense Charges
Your Arizona criminal defense attorney will examine the charges against you and the strength of the evidence. Depending on the circumstances, several defense approaches are viable.
If there’s a lot of evidence against you and the evidence cannot be challenged, a plea bargain may be the best way out of the situation. It may be possible for the offense to be reduced from dangerous to non-dangerous this way, thus the sentence is going to be more lenient.
Alternatively, your criminal defense lawyer may decide to challenge the evidence and disprove the dangerous nature of the crime.
All three elements of a dangerous crime have to be established by the prosecution. These three elements are intentional, knowledgeable and reckless behavior. A difficulty in establishing any of those could contribute to the dismissal of the charges.
Some of the defense scenarios lawyers will rely on include self-defense, defending one’s property or a third person, duress, necessity or lack of mental state for the knowledgeable, reckless and intentional crime commitment.
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