Mode:
 Search 

Azcourts.gov

Arizona Judicial Branch

Criminal Law

Criminal cases involve the commission of acts that are prohibited by law and are punishable by probation, fines, imprisonment — even death. The attorney representing the state, county or municipal government that formally accuses an individual of committing a crime is the prosecutor. The party charged with the crime is the defendant.

 
  1. Arrest: A person is arrested by a law enforcement officer who either observes a crime or has a warrant for arrest when probable cause exists that a person committed a crime. When a person is arrested, that person must be brought before a judge for an initial appearance within 24 hours of being arrested or must be released.
  2. Initial Appearance: At the initial appearance, the judge determines the defendant’s name and address, informs the defendant of the charges and of the right to remain silent and to have an attorney. The judge appoints an attorney if the defendant cannot afford one, and sets the conditions for release from jail.
  3. Preliminary Hearing: If a preliminary hearing is held, the judge hears evidence and testimony from witnesses called by the prosecuting attorney and the defendant’s attorney. If the judge determines there is enough evidence to believe the defendant probably committed the crime, the defendant is held for trial in superior court, and an arraignment date is set.
  4. Arraignment: At the arraignment, the defendant enters a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. If the defendant enters a not guilty plea, the judge will set a trial date. If the defendant enters a guilty plea or declares no contest to the charges, the judge will set a date to sentence the defendant for the crime.
  5. Trial: The defendant has the right to a trial either before a jury or a judge.