Jason D. Lamm Attorney at Law A Boutique Criminal Defense Firm Serving Phoenix

The Progression of a Criminal Case and the Hearings Involved

Every case has a number of different hearings which will occur and which you will need to attend. Below you will find list of those hearings. Although some variance can occur, this list is a good rule of thumb for criminal cases in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona and some other courts throughout the state.

Initial Appearance

The initial appearance is your first step in the criminal justice system. For those who are arrested, this hearing will typically occur before a judge in the jail. Because the critical issue of bail will be determined, it is important to contact us immediately so that arrangements can be made for Jason Lamm to appear with you before the judge. The State will have a prosecutor present, and without an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you and your interests, you will not have a voice in this critical hearing.

At this appearance you will be:

  • Informed of your charges.
  • Advised of your right to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you;
  • Given your release conditions. In some cases your will be released on your recognizance, while in other instances, the judge will set bail (or no bail for certain offenses.)
  • Given your next court date and court location.

Preliminary Hearing (Non-Indictment Felonies Only)

Most cases in Maricopa County are set for preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is a court hearing before a court commissioner in the Regional Court Center (RCC). The prosecutor can present witnesses and evidence at the hearing. The commissioner’s job is to decide if there is enough evidence to show probable cause. This means:

  • That the crime charged probably occurred.
  • That you probably are the person who committed the crime.

Far less evidence is needed at this hearing than would be needed at trial. If the commissioner finds no probable cause on either of these two points, the case will be dismissed. If the commissioner finds probable cause, a ‘not guilty’ plea will automatically be entered, and your case will be set for an Initial Pretrial Conference (IPTC).

Preliminary hearings are sometimes “scratched” or “vacated.” This may mean that the formal charges were not filed, or that the prosecutor has chosen to take the case to the grand jury. This is particularly true in more serious cases involving weapons or large amounts of narcotics (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines). If the case is scratched, the charges may be re-filed. The Statute of Limitations under Arizona law is 7 years for a felony.

Felonies Charged by Indictment

If you received an “indictment” on a felony offense, you will have not a preliminary hearing. Instead, the grand jury has already found probable cause to charge you. Your next court date will be for an arraignment.

For more information, contact our Phoenix criminal defense attorney today!