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The Maricopa County Superior Court is where all Felony and secondary Misdemeanor and Civil Violations proceed through the system. If the primary charge is a Misdemeanor or a Civil Violation, those types of cases end up in City Courts, Town Courts, or Justice Courts.
There are four courthouses around Maricopa County that handle felony cases: two in downtown Phoenix, one in Mesa, and one in northern Phoenix.
The Preliminary Hearing stage is basically when a person is charged with a Felony offense, they are sometimes told to come to court, where they can meet with their attorney, and, potentially, negotiate a plea agreement or dismissal of the case prior to a judge determining whether the charges are appropriate to move forward towards trial.
A Preliminary Hearing is where a judge actually determines whether there is enough probable cause to allow the charges to move forward towards trial, if necessary. This is basically a mini-trial to determine whether the prosecutor can prove that there is enough evidence for the case to move forward.
Usually, a Preliminary Hearing will not actually take place, because if a Defendant wishes to move forward towards trial, and have a judge determine whether there is enough probable cause for the case to move forward, the prosecutor will often dismiss the case, and instead send the charges to the Grand Jury as an alternative to the Preliminary Hearing.
The Grand Jury is comprised of a number of Arizona residents, who are on a months-long stint as members of the Grand Jury, and their job is to determine whether there is enough probable cause for a case to move forward towards trial.
A presentation to the grand jury is made by the prosecutor, with the assistance of law enforcement officers, but does not, in nearly all cases, include the defense lawyer or the Defendant themselves.
It is a one-sided presentation of the evidence, where the prosecutor has sole access to the Grand Jury, in an attempt to convince the Grand Jury that charges would be appropriate against the defendant.
The courthouse in Mesa is called Southeast Regional Court Center (SERCC), and is comprised of primarily two courtrooms. The courthouse in northern Phoenix is called Northeast Regional Court Center (NE RCC), and also contains a small number of courts, which primarily handle Felony Preliminary Hearings.
The two court complexes in downtown Phoenix, the Central Court Building, the South Court Tower, and on rare occasion, the old Maricopa County Court House, is where Preliminary Hearings take place, as well as initial appearances after a grand jury comes back with an indictment (charging a defendant with crimes), and are the primary locations for jury trials on Felony (and secondary Misdemeanor and Civil Offense) cases.
The types of Felonies that occur in these court buildings include:
In Maricopa County, two judges are tasked with overseeing Aggravated DUI cases. Nearly all other cases are randomly assigned to other Superior Court judges.
Unfortunately, in most instances, a defendant charged with a Felony offense must show up to every court appearance, and an attorney is unable to appear on the client’s behalf.
If you, or someone you know, is charged with a criminal offense in University Lakes Justice Court, you want someone who focuses primarily on Criminal Defense Representation. Call the Arizona Criminal Law Team at 480-I-Have-Help (480-442-8343) for a Free ‘In-Depth’ Consultation.