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Arizona Sentencing Laws Complex and Harsh For All First-Time and Repeat Offenders

With the Arizona mandatory sentencing scheme, Courts have plausible prison terms. The term is what is considered the proper sentence - they can be reduced under certain justifying circumstances or increased based on certain infuriating circumstances.

3 Key Reasons Why Mandatory Sentencing Laws Were Passed

In the late 1970s, mandatory sentencing laws were passed by the legislature… for several reasons:

1. These mandatory sentencing laws required prison time for any person found legally guilty for a felony offense should their record already have a felony conviction.

2. They also give mandatory prison time for any person, including those first-time felons, if they're guilty of certain perilous crimes. What constitutes perilous crimes? It's those that involve some type of weapon or instrument that can harm a person. These offenses are usually charged as:

  • Kidnappings
  • Armed Robberies
  • Aggravated Assaults

3. They were designed to punish people who are guilty of sex crimes or crimes against children. Sexual assault crimes tend to involve rape, which has a mandatory minimum sentence of five years with an ostensible term of 7.5 years and no more than 14 years in prison.

A General Understanding Of What Flat Time Means

Flat time means a person must service their sentence day by day with no chance of early release. For instance, the most serious part of mandatory sentence laws are the crimes that are against children:

A person who is convicted of child molestation, whether it's indirect or direct contact with the genitalia (clothed or unclothed) must serve a flat time of 10 years, with a possible sentence of 17 years and no more than 24 years in prison, with no possibility of parole.

A person convicted of sexual conduct with a minor, which includes some penetration or sexual act, must serve at least 13 years in prison, with a possibility of 20 years and no more than 27 years behind bars with no chance of early release.

Federal and State Sentencing Patterns Are Quite Complex

Bear in mind that this is just an overview of the sentencing structure and individual circumstances of what can become a very complicated process is often based on the facts of an alleged crime or if the prosecutor is charging a person with multiple crimes within the same indictment.

Of course, the Arizona sentencing pattern is much more complex than the above explanation. Thus, for any person convicted of a crime in Arizona, it's necessary to have an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to navigate the different challenges in the legal system.

Remember that the federal sentencing structure is also extremely complex. In the mid-1980's, the United States Congress approved the passing of the Federal Sentencing Act. This act provided courts a set of complex formulas, which resulted in sentencing guidelines for the U.S. District Court for defendants who have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of a federal crime.

There are mitigating factors that play into how long a convicted person stays in prison – the range of their sentence. There are reasons brought forward in the sentencing code that allows a U.S. District Judge to veer from the guidelines, upward or downward, when trying to come up with the appropriate sentence.

Be sure to contact an experienced, knowledgeable defense attorney at the Law Offices of Joshua S. Davidson, PLC, if you're charged with a felony that could fall under either the federal sentencing guidelines or Arizona Mandatory Sentencing Laws. He/she must be able to challenge the evidence the state or federal prosecution has against you.