A class 6 felony is the least severe type of felony in Arizona. A conviction can result in fines, probation, or a prison sentence in the Arizona Department of Corrections typically between 4 months to 5.75 years. A class 6 felony is unique in that the prosecutor has the option to charge it as a misdemeanor. Even if the crime is charged as a felony, a class 6 felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor.
What is a Class 6 Felony?
A class 6 felony is a category of a crime in Arizona.
In Arizona, crimes can be classified as misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies. Unlike misdemeanors, felonies can result in prison time. A conviction for a felony also will result in the defendant losing certain civil rights, such as the right to vote or possess a firearm.
Felony crimes are divided into six different classes:
- Class 1 felonies;
- Class 2 felonies;
- Class 3 felonies;
- Class 4 felonies;
- Class 5 felonies; and
- Class 6 felonies.
Class 1 felonies are the most serious felonies. Felonies reduce in severity as the felony level increases. This means class 6 felonies are punished the least severely of all felony crimes.
Examples of Class 6 Felonies
There are currently over 200 crimes in Arizona that are defined as class 6 felonies. Some of the most common include the following:
- Sexual conduct with a minor (if the victim is 15 years or older)
- Theft (if the value of stolen items is between $2000 and $3000)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Aggravated domestic violence
- Possession of burglary tools
- Disorderly conduct
- Resisting arrest
- Unlawful discharge of firearms
A complete list of the types of class 6 felonies under Arizona law can be found here.
Punishments for Class 6 Felonies
Punishment for a class 6 felony in Arizona depends on the number of prior felony convictions that a person has.
- No prior felonies: Probation eligible, or prison time from 4 months to 2 years.
- One prior felony: Prison time from 9 months to 2.75 years.
- Two or more prior felonies: Prison time from 2.25 to 5.75 years.
A class 6 felony is subject to enhanced punishment if it is charged as a “dangerous” offense. A dangerous offense involves the use of a deadly weapon. A class 6 felony crime that is commonly charged as dangerous is unlawful discharge of firearms.
For a first-time dangerous offense, prison time is mandatory. The punishment for a first-time class 6 dangerous felony is 1.5 to 3 years.
Can a Class 6 Felony Get Reduced to a Misdemeanor?
Yes. Class 6 felonies are the only type of felony crime that can be reduced to a misdemeanor at sentencing. Under ARS 13-604, if a person is convicted of a class 6 felony (as long as it not charged as a dangerous offense), the court may designate the crime a class 1 misdemeanor if the judge believes punishing the crime as a felony would be unduly harsh. The judge may do this is the person has no more than one prior felony conviction. But ff the defendant has already been convicted of two or more felonies, then the crime cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor.
The prosecutor may also choose to charge a class 6 felony as misdemeanors at the start of the criminal case. Prosecutors therefore have the choice of charging a class 6 felony crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
What is a Class 6 “Open” Felony?
A class 6 “open” felony, also called a class 6 undesignated felony, is a crime that has the possibility of being designated a misdemeanor. If a person is convicted of a class 6 undesignated felony offense, that crime is treated as a felony during the probation period. Usually, if the defendant successfully complete probation without any violations or without committing additional crimes, then they can petition the court to designate the felony as a misdemeanor. This is often called “earning a misdemeanor,” because a defendant gets the opportunity to have his undesignated felony converted into a misdemeanor if he performs well on probation.
The Statute of Limitations for Class 6 Felonies
The “statute of limitations” refers to how long the prosecutor has to bring a criminal case against somebody. According to ARS 13-170, the statute of limitations for class 6 felonies is seven years.
Misdemeanors have a statute of limitations of one year. And because class 6 felonies can be charged either as felonies or misdemeanors, how long does the prosecution have to file a class 6 felony crime as a misdemeanor? The answer is: 7 years. The felony statute of limitations applies to class 6 felonies even if they are charged as misdemeanors.
Note: The time period for the statute of limitations does not run any time the defendant is absent from the state.
Example: A person committed a class 6 felony crime in 2010. He then left Arizona to live in Utah from 2011 to 2020. In 2021, he returned to the state of Arizona. Can he still be charged with a class 6 felony? Yes, because the statute of limitations did not run from 2011 to 2020 when he was absent from Arizona.