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Defendants charged in Arizona with a criminal misdemeanor or a traffic citation may be able to have the charges dismissed under the Arizona Criminal Misdemeanor Compromise program (Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-3981). The compromise program allows victims of certain crimes to compromise or settle the criminal case before it is set for a trial. For instance, if the crime by its very nature gives rise to a monetary remedy such as a theft charge, the victim can agree to settle for payment for his/her losses or damages. In exchange the victim may sign a misdemeanor compromise form. If the prosecutor and judge agree, then the charges may be dismissed against the defendant.
The Criminal Misdemeanor Compromise program (Compromise) is similar to plea bargaining in that it is an alternative method for resolving criminal cases without clogging the court calendar. The Compromise differs in several respects though from a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the state, and often results in a conviction being placed in the defendant's record. A Compromise is negotiated between the victim and the defendant and does not result in a conviction.
By agreeing to the Compromise both the victim and the defendant benefit. A victim who agrees to Compromise will receive compensation quicker than if they were required to bring a civil suit to collect on their damages and the defendant avoids a criminal conviction. The state benefits because the parties agree on their own and a prosecutor is not required to participate, freeing them for other duties. The court system benefits because the court does not have to conduct a trial nor keep another record about a defendant.
The victim needs to completely fill out the standardized Compromise form and have it notarized. In the form, the victim basically declares to the court that an agreement has been reached with the defendant to pay for damages caused by the defendant's criminal action. Submitting the form to the court takes the place of the need for the victim to testify or ask the prosecutor to drop the charges.
The decision by the victim to Compromise on the charges is up to the victim's discretion, and some courts will not approve the Compromise until the victim has been fully reimbursed. Not all misdemeanors are eligible for Compromise though. Those that are eligible include assault, criminal trespass, dog bites, threats, disorderly conduct, shoplifting, theft and criminal damage. If a person is subject to points or a fine from the Motor Vehicle Division because of infractions that resulted from damaging another car, the Motor Vehicle citation may compromised as well, with the points and fine being dismissed.
A Compromise may not be used for any felony, domestic violence charge or misdemeanor involving indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, leaving the scene of an accident or failure to yield the right of way. The amount of compensation that the victim must agree to is not set as well. In order to agree to a Compromise the victim may require that the defendant pay more than the actual amount of damages they caused. But the trade off is the dismissal of the criminal charges, which may have a more long lasting negative impact.
Once the Compromise has been approved by the judge the charges will be dismissed. Even if the victim changes their mind later on the charges may not be reinstated. To determine if your misdemeanor is eligible for Compromise contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified plea bargaining and deals lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local plea bargaining and deals attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.