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Does Arizona Have a Three Strikes Law?

Posted on April 6, 2023 in Criminal Defense

If you have two prior felony convictions on your record and are facing charges for a third, it is imperative to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Arizona has a Three Strikes law that imposes a mandatory life sentence in prison for defendants who are convicted of three certain types of felony crimes on separate occasions. If you are facing the possibility of life in prison as a prior offender, protect yourself with the best legal representation you can find.

What Is a Three Strikes Law?

Many states in the U.S. have habitual offender laws, also known as Three Strikes laws. These laws are in place to reduce the number of repeat offenders. A Three Strikes law can significantly increase the jail or prison sentence of someone who has prior felony convictions. Most of these laws require a mandatory prison sentence of life imprisonment if the individual has two or more previous serious convictions. The goal of this law is to drastically increase the penalties for people who continue to commit serious felony crimes in an effort to discourage subsequent felonies.

What Is Arizona’s Three Strikes Law?

Arizona is one of 28 states that currently have some form of a Three Strikes law. Arizona Revised Statute Section 13-706 states that a person who is at least 18 or who has been tried as an adult and is convicted of a serious offense and who has previously been convicted of two or more serious offenses on separate occasions will be sentenced to life imprisonment and is not eligible for suspension of the sentence, probation, pardon or release until the person has served at least 25 years or the sentence is commuted.

The Three Strikes law also states that unless a longer term of imprisonment or the death penalty is prescribed, a person who is convicted of any violent or aggravated felony and has previously been convicted of two or more violent or aggravated felonies on separate occasions will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of a suspended sentence, probation, pardon or release until he or she has served at least 35 years. 

For the 35-year minimum prison sentence to apply, two things must be true. The first is that the two prior aggravated or violent felonies on the defendant’s record must have been entered within 15 years of the third conviction (not including time spent in custody or on probation). The second is that the sentence for the first aggravated or violent felony must have been imposed before the conduct that resulted in the second conviction, and that the sentence for the second offense must have been imposed before the conduct that resulted in the third conviction.

What Felony Convictions Are Included in Arizona’s Three Strikes Law?

While many states impose the Three Strikes law for any type of felony conviction, it only applies to certain types of felonies in Arizona. This means that not every defendant facing a third serious felony charge will automatically spend life in prison. The following types of serious crimes are included in Arizona’s Three Strikes law:

  • First-degree murder
  • Second-degree murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury
  • Aggravated assault involving the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 15
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Any dangerous crime against a child
  • Arson involving an occupied structure
  • Armed robbery
  • Burglary in the first degree
  • Kidnapping

“Violent or aggravated felonies” include murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping, sexual assault and sexual abuse of a child. Arizona’s Three Strikes law can be confusing and difficult to navigate as a defendant. If you believe this law will apply to your current criminal case as a prior convicted felon, contact AZ Defenders for a free case consultation with an attorney. It is important to protect yourself as much as possible when facing a potential life sentence.