Arizona Felony Cases- What You Can Expect To Happen In Court
What can I expect to happen in court throughout my case?
If you are charged with a felony crime in Arizona, you have the absolute right to an attorney throughout the entire process of your case. When you are facing the possibility of huge fines and a lengthy term in prison, it is vital that you hire an attorney with a great knowledge of the law and the ability to take the knowledge and apply it inside of the courtroom.
While each case is unique, Phoenix felony courts will generally follow a standard procedure towards moving your case to a resolution or trial, including:
- Non Witness Preliminary Hearing- In the majority of felony cases, your case will begin in the lowest level called the RCC or Regional Court Center. This lower level will give your attorney the first opportunity to examine the initial police reports and discovery and obtain your first plea offer from the prosecutor. The discovery, however, is often limited at this stage and your attorney will not be able to interview witnesses.
- Arraignment- If you do not accept the initial plea offer from the State, you will have your case head to a higher level trial group. Before it gets there, however, the court must make sure you are aware of your charges and this is accomplished at the arraignment hearing.
- Pre-Trial Conference- Often times in felony cases, pre-trial conferences are held to make sure that the State has provided all of the discovery needed to investigate your case and to find out the witnesses that the prosecutor may call against you. In between pre-trial conferences, negotiations will continue with the prosecutor and interviews will be conducted by your attorney. Your attorney may also hire expert witnesses on your behalf in order to ensure that you get the very best defense possible.
- 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. Some examples of this could be motions to suppress evidence based on a bad stop by a police officer or an illegal search and seizure of the evidence.
- Settlement Conference- A settlement conference may be necessary if there is no resolution to your case before trial. A settlement conference is essentially a way for an unbiased judge (and one who will not be your trial judge) to get a brief overview of your case from both the defense and the prosecutor and give you an honest opinion of whether you should look into taking a plea offer or perhaps recommending to the prosecutor that they give you a better plea offer.
- Trial Management Conference- A trial management conference is conducted shortly before a trial and it is designed to make sure that all evidentiary issues are settled and to choose trial dates for your trial.
- Trial- All felony trials are conducted before a jury of your peers. Depending on the severity of your case and the maximum punishment you are facing, your trial will either be a jury 8 or a jury of 12 members.