The United States and Arizona Constitutions each provide the citizens of Arizona with many important rights when they are charged with a crime. As a matter of constitutional law, the protections provided by federal law act as a floor, meaning that states cannot offer their citizens fewer rights. However, states can choose to provide citizens with additional rights through a state statute or constitution.
In the case of the right to a jury trial, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.” Since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, this has been interpreted to mean all defendants facing charges of “serious” crimes.
Many states have abolished the distinction between serious and non-serious crimes when it comes to the right to a jury trial, and they allow for all defendants to demand a jury trial, regardless of the seriousness of the charge that they are facing. However, while Arizona state law provides some additional protections for criminal defendants, state law does not allow jury trials for all defendants.
In Arizona, all defendants facing felony charges are entitled to a jury trial. However, defendants facing misdemeanor charges may be entitled to a jury trial, depending on the crime at issue. There are two ways in which a defendant charged with a misdemeanor crime is eligible for a jury trial. First, a jury trial is permitted if there is a state statute specifically allowing for a jury trial for that particular offense. For example, Arizona DUI offenses are specifically mentioned in A.R.S. 28-1381(f), stating “at the Arraignment, the court shall inform the defendant that the defendant may request a trial by jury and that the request, if made, shall be granted.”
The other way for a misdemeanor crime to be eligible for a jury trial is if the crime was eligible for a jury trial under the state’s common law back when Arizona became a state. These offenses are limited and, by the nature of their qualification, cannot be expanded.
For all jury-eligible offenses, Arizona law requires the jury to be unanimous in its decision. For misdemeanor crimes, the jury must be composed of at least six people. For felony crimes involving a potential sentence of death or more than 30 years of imprisonment, the jury must have at least 12 people. For all other felony offenses, a jury of at least six people is required.
Have You Been Charged with DUI in Arizona?
If you have recently been charged with an Arizona felony DUI or misdemeanor DUI, contact James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a veteran Phoenix criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of trials in front of judges and juries. Attorney Novak represents clients in Phoenix, as well as the surrounding areas, including Ahwatukee, Apache Junction, Chandler, Fort McDowell, Fountain Hills, Gilbert, Guadalupe, Mesa, and Tempe. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 480-413-1499.