Frequently Asked Questions

Tempe Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges in Arizona, you undoubtedly have a number of questions running through your mind. At the Law Offices of Trent R. Buckallew, PC, our Tempe criminal defense lawyers are here to help you navigate through the complexities in our criminal justice system. Here is a list of the some of the most frequently asked questions regarding criminal cases in Arizona to help you better understand some of the terminology, penalties and process.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?
In Arizona, as in most states, crimes are divided into two groups based on their seriousness. Misdemeanors are often less serious offenses and cannot be punished by more than six months in county jail. Common misdemeanors include first time DUI and simple assault charges. Felony crimes are those involving more serious offenses, which can be result in prison time and other lasting consequences. Felonies include murder, rape, aggravated assault and other serious charges.

Will I go to jail?
Only if you are convicted! The amount of jail time imposed will depend upon what charge(s) you are convicted of, prior criminal convictions and other factors. Many misdemeanors can be resolve with little to no jail time in exchange for probation, treatment classes, and community work service hours. Felony convictions can carry harsher penalties, including prison time, but our Tempe criminal defense attorneys will fight aggressively to achieve the best outcome possible in your case.

What are the penalties for DUI in Arizona?
Arizona is notorious for having some of the strictest laws governing driving under the influence. The lowest level charge is a first time DUI with a BAC level of .08 to .15, which carries a typical sentence of up to ten days in jail, a fine of at least $1,500 and license suspension of 90 days. Arizona also requires that individuals convicted of DUI install an ignition interlock device in the vehicles they drive after the reinstatement of their license for at least one year for the first conviction. More serious DUI offenses can result in much harsher penalties including prison.

What crimes require registration as a sex offender?
Most, if not all, sexual offenses involving a minor under the age of 18 will require the defendant to register with the sheriff of that county, if convicted. Additionally, defendants convicted of aggravated sexual assault (rape) and repeated occurrences of indecent exposure will result in mandatory registration as well.

Can I have a conviction removed from my criminal record?
Many states have a process by which one may have a criminal conviction removed from their record, and this is often referred to as expungement. While some states allow for the permanent removal of a conviction, Arizona's process of cleaning up a criminal record is slightly different. Arizona has a statute which allows a person to make application to the court that imposed the sentence to Set Aside the judgment of guilt. The convicted person, or his/her attorney, or a probation officer can make this application to set aside the conviction. If the petition is granted, the Judge will set aside the judgment of guilt and dismiss the case. There are exceptions and not all cases are eligible for set aside, but an experienced attorney will be able to assess your case and advise you whether you are eligible for a set aside under this statute.

If I'm planning to plead guilty, do I still need an attorney? You are not required to have an attorney but it is still highly recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any decisions in your case that may result in unforeseen consequences. Furthermore, sometimes pleading guilty is not the best option for you and a legal professional will be able to assess your situation and advise you on the best course of action.

Do I have to speak with the police?
If you are arrested, you likely heard the police officer tell you that you "have the right to remain silent." Any statements you make to law enforcement can be used in the case against you later on in court. This is known as self-incrimination and you have the constitutional right to protect yourself from this by remaining silent until you have hired a criminal defense attorney to represent you. The less you share with law enforcement, the better, even if you think that it could help you. Wait until you speak with an attorney and he or she advises you on what to do.

Do you have more questions?

While this list includes some of the most common questions about criminal defense in Tempe, we know that given the complexity of the law, and the unique aspect of each case, you will likely have other questions concerning the specifics of the charge(s) you are facing and your options regarding case resolution. Please contact the Firm to schedule a free initial case evaluation. We can answer any additional questions you may have regarding your pending criminal case. We are here to help you through this difficult time in any way we can and look forward to discussing your legal options with you. Support Available 24/7.