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Interviewer: What are the alternatives to going to trial?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Alternatives would be at the pretrial level, taking the plea, submitting a deviation, having a deviation, which is the formal write-up to the prosecutor that we discussed earlier, getting a deviation granted and obtaining the results that the client wants.
Pretrial Diversion Programs
Interviewer: Does Arizona allow pretrial diversion programs?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: There are, but in felony cases usually with the pretrial diversion programs, they’re in response to drug cases where someone hasn’t been through a diversion program. They don’t have the other Minor in Consumption’s on their record or something like that. They may be offered a diversion program, but there are two different places for felony processing and where felony cases usually start.
Maricopa County Has 2 Regional Court Centers for Felony Cases
One of them is RCC, and one of them is EDC. They’re called the two Regional Court Centers in Maricopa County. These are where preliminary hearings and arraignments are consolidated, at one location. It’s a way to expedite the criminal process.
RCC Hears Many Preliminary Hearings; EDC Is Expedited Drug Court
A lot of preliminary hearings are held at RCC where the prosecutors, the defendant, the defense attorney. Usually a plea offer is given at the RCC level, and we’re able to submit deviations at that level. There’s also EDC. That’s considered early dispositions court.
That’s the Expedited Drug Court, and it’s designed to handle most first and second-time drug offenses. This is where we would probably see a lot of those diversion programs entered into, if it’s a first-time drug offense and there’s a diversion option for the person. Usually the eligible cases are identified at the IA, and they’re set for a preliminary hearing within 10 days. Those are the two different early court levels and where you’d see diversion options the most.
Arizona Has a Veterans Court for Post-Conviction Relief Only
Interviewer: Is there any sort of Veterans Court available? I know some states have it.
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: There is Veteran’s Court, but it’s post-conviction. Someone entered in that criminal process is not going to be automatically be sent to Veteran’s Court. What they’d need to do is go through the entire process, and they can obtain post-conviction relief through the Veterans Court.
Arizona Does Not Allow Expungements but Does Permit a “Setting Aside”
Interviewer: If I recall correctly, there is no expungement, but there is a certain option available similar to that, known as “setting aside”?
If a Criminal Record Is Accessed, It Will Indicate the Verdict Was Set Aside
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Right. Arizona doesn’t have expungement. They have what’s called “setting aside”. When a criminal record is accessed, rather than seeing a judgment of guilt, it would say set aside. Now that doesn’t mean that if someone’s asked questions about whether they’ve been convicted of a crime ever, whether they can say no. This is because usually, they’ll still have to say no that they’ve been convicted of a crime, but rather than showing a judgment of guilt, it will say set aside.
A Verdict Cannot Be Set Aside Until Probation and Other Obligations Have Been Fulfilled
Interviewer: So how long does someone have to wait before they are able to have a verdict set aside?
AZ Criminal Law Team Lawyer: Usually they have to have had their probation completed and the fine paid off. Then we can file a motion to have the dictate or the judgment set aside.