Misdemeanor crimes, in Arizona, are crimes that have a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail. While all DUI convictions have some mandatory jail time, most other misdemeanor crimes can be resolved with no jail time.
You will know if your charge is a misdemeanor by what court you go to. If you go to a City Court or a Justice Court, your charge is a misdemeanor. If you go to Superior Court, your charge is a felony.
While misdemeanors are relatively minor crimes, as compared to felonies, they can still have significant penalties and a great impact on your life. It is my experience that most people charged with misdemeanors are good law-abiding people who simply had a bad day. Unfortunately, the fallout from a misdemeanor conviction can last a long time.
Criminal traffic offenses are misdemeanors that add points to your driver license and possibly money to your car insurance rates. If you have certain jobs, like a school teacher for example, some convictions are reported to your licensing board and can trigger disciplinary action. Some misdemeanors can be charged as a felony if you have a history of the same crime or type of crime, domestic violence or theft for example.
If you are charged with any misdemeanor, you should consult with a criminal attorney to learn how a conviction could impact your life. If you decide to fight the charge, you have the same right to challenge the evidence and arrest as someone charged with a felony.
I am often asked if a person charged with a misdemeanor is entitled to a jury trial. The general answer is no, but there are exceptions where you could get a jury trial. While all DUI charges are entitled to a jury trial, a lawyer would need to meet with you to discuss your charges before he can tell you whether you are entitled to a jury trial.