Frequently Asked Arizona Criminal Case Questions

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Felonies are more serious than misdemeanors.  The range of punishment for Arizona felony offenses can range from probation to time in prison.  Many felony convictions carry mandatory prison sentences. In Arizona, a conviction for first degree murder (the most serious felony) can result in a death sentence.  A felony conviction can also result in the loss of certain civil rights.  For instance, convicted felons lose their rights to vote, to hold public office, to possess firearms, and to serve as jurors.

Misdemeanors, although not as serious as felonies, can also carry serious penalties. The maximum possible punishment for a class 1 misdemeanor conviction in Arizona is six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.  Some Arizona misdemeanor offenses (DUI, for example) carry mandatory jail sentences.  Mr. Lawson handles all types of misdemeanor and felony matters.

What should I do if I'm arrested or questioned by the police?

You should remain silent except to request to call your lawyer.  You can provide your identification to the police, but tell them that you will only answer further questions with your lawyer present.  Although the police may seem like they are on your side or somehow sympathetic to your case, they have most likely already made up their mind to arrest you.  Do not give the police additional ammunition by attempting to talk your way out of trouble.   In the event you are arrested, you should immediately ask to call a lawyer.  Mr. Lawson is available 24 hours a day.

If I am arrested, do the police have to read me my rights?

No.  The police are only required to read you your Miranda rights if you are taken into custody and interrogated.  In other words, the police don't have to read you your rights if they don't plan on asking you questions.  There are, however, circumstances where a confession or a statement to the police can be ruled inadmissible.  Mr. Lawson will examine your case personally to determine whether any of your rights were violated.

If I am charged with a crime, can I take my case to trial?

Yes.  If you have been charged with a crime in Arizona, you have a constitutional right to demand a trial.  In Arizona, a person charged with any felony has the right to a trial by jury.  Some
misdemeanors (e.g., DUI, theft, resisting arrest) carry with them the right to a jury trial.  Other misdemeanors only carry with them the right to a bench trial.  In a bench trial, the judge, not a jury, listens to the evidence and renders the verdict.  In all trials, the prosecution has the burden of proof.  The prosecution has the burden of proving a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  You are never required to present any evidence, but should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney about whether it would be beneficial to do so.  Mr. Lawson has extensive trial experience.  He has tried well over 100 cases in courtrooms throughout the state of Arizona.

If I am found guilty, will I go to jail?

It depends on the specific crime for which you are convicted.  Arizona has some of the toughest sentencing laws in the country.  Many Arizona crimes (e.g., DUI, some weapons charges, some sex offenses, crimes committed after a previous felony conviction) carry mandatory prison sentences.  If you are convicted of a crime that carries mandatory incarceration, the judge will have no choice but to sentence you to jail or prison.  That is why any arrest or criminal allegation is a very serious matter.  Trust your freedom only to a Certified Criminal Law Specialist.

How do I find the right lawyer?

Many lawyers advertise themselves as criminal defense lawyers.  The yellow pages are flooded with their advertisements.  When you've been arrested, or are facing criminal charges, don't trust your freedom to a lawyer just because he a the big ad or a catchy slogan.

The State Bar of Arizona is the organization which governs all attorneys in Arizona.  The State Bar certifies lawyers in several areas of law, including criminal defense.  A State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law is a proven specialist in the field. These attorneys, because of experience, training, and examination are awarded certificates by the Board of Specialization. Certified Specialists have demonstrated integrity, professionalism and a high degree of competence in their specialty field.

There are certainly some good lawyers in Arizona who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to become Certified Criminal Law Specialists.  The problem for most people is that they have no way of telling which non-certified lawyers know their stuff, and which ones don't.  The State Bar of Arizona has taken the guess work out of the equation.  

The State Bar of Arizona publishes a list of Certified Specialists.  To obtain a list of Certified Criminal Law Specialists, contact the State Bar at 602-340-7300, or, visit their web site at  Mr. Lawson has been a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law since 1998.  He has a proven record as a dedicated and effective lawyer for defendants in criminal cases.

What questions should I ask before hiring a lawyer?

Ask the lawyer whether they are a certified as a specialist in criminal law by the State Bar of Arizona.  Ask the lawyer what percentage of their practice is devoted to criminal defense.  Ask the lawyer how long they've been practicing law in Arizona, and what percentage of their legal career has been devoted to Arizona criminal defense.  Ask the lawyer what type of cases they have successfully handled.  Ask the attorney if they will personally handle your case.  Ask the attorney how accessible they will be, and whether they'll take your calls on evenings and weekends.  Ask the attorney whether they are available to meet on evenings or weekends.

Mr. Lawson is a State Bar of Arizona Certified Criminal Law Specialist.  Nearly 100 percent of his practice is devoted to criminal defense.  He has been a lawyer for over 25 years.  All of that time has been devoted to the defense of criminal cases in Arizona.

Mr. Lawson has successfully handled cases ranging from misdemeanor DUI to murder. He has appeared in numerous courts throughout the state of Arizona.  Mr. Lawson will personally handle every aspect of your case and is available 24 hours a day.  He is available for consultations on evenings and weekends.  Mr. Lawson prides himself on the personal and specialized service he gives to each of his clients.

I have more questions What do I do?

Call Slade Lawson at 480-413-1300, or send an email to [email protected]  Mr. Lawson will be happy to answer all of your questions.  He knows this is an urgent matter for you, and he will get back to you quickly.  There's no obligation.  Mr. Lawson just wants you to have all the information you need to make informed decisions.  

Lawson Law Office

Don't be fooled. Defending a criminal case is much more difficult than prosecuting one. When hiring a criminal defense attorney, the relevant question is not how long that attorney has worked in the criminal justice system, but rather how long that attorney has worked in criminal defense.

Contact Us Today

The Lawson Law Office is dedicated to providing personal, professional and expert service on Arizona criminal defense cases. When you hire Slade A. Lawson for legal representation, you will receive personalized representation by Mr. Lawson himself, not an associate or paralegal.

Law Office of Slade Lawson
1761 East McNair Drive, Suite 102
Tempe, AZ 85283
(480) 413-1300
(480) 413-1402 (fax)