Earlier this year, a report was issued by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. The report, entitled Review of Arizona Revised Statutes Containing A Felony Criminal Penalty, was prepared and issued as part of the Commission’s duties of monitoring and analyzing the effectiveness of criminal justice legislation in general. The gist of the report is that there are close to 1,500 statutes in Arizona that contain felony sentencing provisions, and many of them are rarely, if ever, used.
In looking at the report, it is important to note that in Arizona, not all crimes are contained in the Criminal Code (Title 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes). Criminal laws, including felonies, also appear in at least 14 other titles. Those titles cover areas such as:
- Insurance – Title 20
- Professions and Occupations – Title 32
- Property – Title 33
- Public Buildings and Improvements – Title 34
- Public Finances – Title 35
- Public Officers and Employees – Title 38
- Public Records, Printing and Notices – Title 39
- Public Utilities and Carriers – Title 40
- State Government – Title 41
- Taxation of Income – Title 43
- Trade and Commerce – Title 44
- Waters – Title 45
- Welfare – Title 46
- Environment – Title 49
In all, there are, according to the report, 500 felony statutes (over a third of those statutes on the books) that have not been the subject of an arrest for at least 15 years. In addition, close to 80 felony statutes that have been passed since 2011 have never been the subject of a felony arrest. But that doesn’t mean that the remaining two-thirds of these laws are used on a regular basis. There are 27 felony statutes in which there has been at least one arrest over the past 15 years, but which have not been charged during the past 10 years. And over 50 felony laws which were the subject of an arrest over the previous 10 years have not been used during the past 5 years.
The questions raised by the report include (a) whether many of these laws are really necessary, and (b) whether some are duplicative of other laws and therefore should be eliminated.
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