Courts in Arizona & What Type of Cases They Handle

Table of Contents

Arizona Court Jurisdiction & What Type of Cases They Handle

When arrested for a crime in Arizona, you will receive a subpoena or some other type of information on when your trial date is set. The notice will provide information about the jurisdiction you are to go to and the specific kind of court.

Without an arrangement for representation, such as a defense attorney from at Gurion Legal, you will be required to go to court on your own.

Arizona court jurisdiction is the reason behind different localities, and types of courts are for separate crimes. DUIs, for instance, typically will go before a municipal or justice judge when there is no death or injury. Read more about all of the types, however, in the information below.

Justice Courts in Arizona

Justice courts are in charge of a specific geographic precinct within Arizona. Every county in the state will have at least one. It is dependent on the population of that area, however, similar to the electoral college system.

The judge at a justice court does not have to be a licensed attorney. The people of the precinct vote them in once every four years. The title given to the judge is the justice of the peace, present at any of these justice courts.  Some examples of justice courts include:

  • Casa Grande Justice Court
  • East Mesa Justice Court
  • Globe Justice Court
  • Moon Valley Justice Court
  • Payson Justice Court
  • Snowflake Justice Court
  • Wellton Justice Court

Justice courts have the most limit in Arizona. They can hear traffic cases, some misdemeanors and can host preliminary trials for some felonies. Misdemeanor cases cannot carry sentencing of more than six months in jail, however, making DUIs a plausible case here. Others include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Protection order issues
  • Money fraud
  • Minor assault

Arizona’s Municipal and City Courts

Municipal and city courts are one and the same. They are established for specific localities within the state of Arizona, hearing cases regarding violations for those specific areas. Typically, they handle crimes like traffic offenses, DUIs, and other petty issues. Examples of more specific charges include:

  • DUIs
  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Reckless driving without injury

Municipal and city courts, more specifically, can handle misdemeanor offenses and low-level felonies. They not only regard the Arizona legal code, but the courts look into each city’s laws as well.

The official title of a judge at any municipal or city court is magistrate, including those below.

  • Avondale City Court
  • Coolidge City Court
  • Eloy City Court
  • Flagstaff City Court
  • Florence City Court
  • Goodyear Municipal Court
  • Maricopa City Court
  • Phoenix City Court
  • Scottsdale City Court
  • Wickenburg Town Court

Municipal courts split jurisdiction with justice courts sometimes, usually if the crime occurred in city limits. If your defense attorney makes an appeal on your part in a trial, your case will move to a superior court.

Superior Courts in Arizona

Superior courts can also hear DUI convictions, specifically those involving death or injuries. These can handle almost any misdemeanor or felony and are part of the state government, with felonies the most popular. Superior courts also have an appeals process in place for municipal, city, and justice courts.

In reality, Superior courts are actually the only ones that can initially oversee a felony trial. Any case that has nowhere else to go, however, will come to this court. Criminal offenses heard include:

  • Homicides, assault, armed robbery, and other violent crimes
  • Sex crimes like sexual assault, rape, and more
  • Grand larceny
  • Vehicular manslaughter, as can occur with an aggravated DUI
  • Car theft

The list above encompasses the beginning of what these courts can hear. They can also take on any misdemeanor with the sentencing of ail time of fewer than six months. This responsibility is only possible with shared jurisdiction with a justice court. These courts cover certain specialties, such as juvenile cases seen with Maricopa County Superior Juvenile Court. Other superior courts in Arizona include:

  • Apache County Superior Court
  • La Paz County Superior Court
  • Navajo County Superior Court
  • Yuma County Superior Court

Arizona Court of Appeals

If you need to appeal a case at the Superior court, you will start with the Court of Appeals. Even if your case is collateral, this location will likely hear it.

It is important to note that the Court of Appeals does not take on its trials. The judge only has the right to overturn a case coming from a Superior court. If a reversal is necessary, it is likely due to an error of some form.

After the judge overturns your case, the prosecutor has a right to take you to a trial again. In many instances, a determination to dismiss your case is the choice made, however. Contact a defense lawyer who can guide you through this confusing appeals process in place, however.

The Court of Appeals technically has two sections, but they operate as one cohesive court. There are sixteen judges in the Phoenix location because it is such a large area. The Tucson location is much smaller as it has only six judges.

Arizona Supreme Court

The highest court in all of Arizona is the Supreme Court of the state. This location is different than the United States Supreme Court as it is the highest in the country. Again, the Arizona Supreme Court is only for appeals rather than its trials.

To take your DUI or other criminal cases to the Supreme Court of Arizona, you have to submit a writ of certiorari. Your defense attorney can help you craft this document which instructs a lower court to send all records to the Supreme Court.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Arizona has the right to deny your request for an appeals trial based on the writ of certiorari. There are two instances in which you will always see a judge, however. These include:

  • Habeas corpus petitions
  • Sentencing of the death penalty

If you do not know, habeas corpus involves the unlawful imprisonment of a defendant. The prison official will have to come with you to the Supreme Court so the judge can determine the truth. This option is beneficial if you believe you have a wrongful conviction on your record for a crime you did not commit.

Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney to Represent You in Arizona Court

If you face a criminal conviction such as a DUI, it is not wise to go to court alone. Schedule a consultation with a defense attorney from Gurion Legal to discuss your legal options, including appeals when necessary.

It is better to have your case in the hands of experts who want the best for your future. Remember that at a justice and city court, the attorneys can help you through your misdemeanor charge. At a superior court, they can assist with your felony. At the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals, your attorney will fight for you and your case, all the way to the top.