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The Misdemeanor Case Process
Interviewer: What are the initial steps taken for a typical misdemeanor case?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: With a misdemeanor case, usually someone will get a ticket, which will have their next court date on it. That will be written by the citing officer, whoever writes that complaint.
When they get that citation, usually at the top left-hand corner of that paper is a complaint number or some sort of citation number. That’s sort of to document with the court, it’s how you can look up the case or follow up on it, is through that citation or complaint number.
After Retaining an Attorney, the First Court Date for a Misdemeanor Case Is the Arraignment
Now, if someone hires a private attorney that first court date that gets set is an arraignment date. When you hire private counsel and they file a Notice of Appearance, that first court date generally goes away because a private attorney usually asks that a Not Guilty be entered on the person’s behalf.
Next, a pretrial conference gets set. When the attorney files a Notice of Appearance, that first date usually goes away and it gets set in about 30 days.
You May Not Have to Appear in Court If You Retain an Attorney
Now, a lot of people think that they actually have to appear for a misdemeanor case in court. If you hire private counsel, not all courts that practice this way, but some courts allow the defendant’s appearance to be waived and the private attorney can go on that person’s behalf.
Whoever the defendant is, they can continue working; they don’t have to worry about that being at court that day.
Misdemeanor Charge Levels
Interviewer: What are the different degrees in misdemeanors? Are some more serious than others?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Misdemeanors range from Class 1, 2 and 3. These are defense categories, and misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are punishable for up to a year in jail. Sentences can include payments of fines, probation, community service, and restitution. A person who is charged with a misdemeanor is also entitled to a jury trial, and they may be entitled to legal representation, such as a public defender.