What is the Process of Misdemeanor Court in Arizona?

(Last Updated On: October 16, 2018)

Misdemeanor cases in Arizona are usually handles in justice or municipal courts. All courts generally follow the same procedure for misdemeanor charges, although the rules may slightly vary from court to court.

The typical process of misdemeanor court in Arizona is as follows:

The arraignment is the first appearance before the judge, where you and your attorney will submit a plea (guilty or not guilty) with the court. The purpose of an arraignment is for the judge to decide on the charges and release conditions of the defendant. If the defendant retains a Tucson criminal defense attorney prior to the arraignment, the attorney can file a notice with the court to waive the arraignment, which would mean the defendant or attorney would not need to go to the court if granted. If the court grants the arraignment to be waived, a not guilty please is entered for the defendant and the next court date is mailed to the attorney.

Pre-Trail Conference
Pre-trial conferences are where your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor, discuss the specific details and advise the court of the status of the case. This is so the judge can make sure that the case is progressing toward a resolution or trial. In most courts, defendants that are represented by private counsel are not required to appear at pre-trial conferences. There can be as many as three pre-trial conferences in misdemeanor cases.

Evidentiary Hearings
In many cases, your attorney will try to find evidentiary issues that may lead to suppression of evidence and a dismissal of your case, such as motions to suppress evidence based on an illegal search and seizure or unjustifiable stop by a police officer. At these hearings, the prosecutor and criminal defense attorney can present oral arguments regarding their legal positions. They are also an opportunity for the judge to hear any necessary witness testimony.

If all negotiations and evidentiary hearings fail to bring a resolution to the case, trial may be the only option available. For misdemeanor cases in Arizona, the accused person will be tried one of two ways, depending on the nature of the offense:
– Bench Trial
In this kind of trial, the judge will decide legal and factual issues.
– Jury Trial
Some misdemeanor cases in Arizona are entitled to a trial by a jury of six people. During this trial, the judge will make decisions regarding legal questions, while the jury makes decisions based on the factual issues. The jury will decide whether the prosecutor has proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If they cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge will declare a mistrial, and the case will be reset for a new trial.

If a person accused of a misdemeanor is found guilty, a sentence hearing will be held. This is usually done on the same day as the finding of guilt. The defense and prosecution will both have an opportunity to present to the judge what they believe to be appropriate penalties. The judge then makes a ruling and issues a sentencing order.

If you are being charged with a misdemeanor and seek legal representation, contact a Tucson criminal defense lawyer at Thrush Law Group for representation immediately.

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