Arraignments are held in Superior Court. At the arraignment, the court will enter a “not guilty” plea on your behalf and will ensure that you have an attorney representing you on your case. The Court will also assign your case to a trial judge and set your upcoming court dates. The next court date is an Initial Pretrial Conference.
The Court will set a number of pretrial hearings before your case proceeds to trial. The settings may include all or some of the following: Initial Pretrial Conference (IPTC), Comprehensive Pretrial Conference (CPTC), Status Conference, Settlement Conference, and Trial Management Conference (TMC).
Some cases are designated as ‘complex cases’ under the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. Examples of complex cases are:
- Child pornography cases (involving computer evidence)
- Other sophisticated fraud cases
These cases are often assigned to ‘special assignment judges’ who closely monitor the progress of the case by holding Complex Case Management Conferences (CMC) every 45 days.
When a case "goes to trial," that means it goes to court to be heard before a judge. In these court proceedings, the prosecutor's job is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime or crimes they have been charged with. The defense attorney can cross-examine witnesses as well as evidence in order to tell the story of the defendant's innocence. While many misdemeanor trials are heard in front of a judge only, felony trials are heard by a jury unless the defendant, the defense lawyer, and the prosecutor agree to a bench trial.
If you enter into a plea agreement or if you go to trial and a jury (or judge, if a jury has been waived) finds you guilty, a sentencing date will be set for about a month later. Before sentencing, the defendant meets with a probation officer who then prepares a report for the judge. That report contains the probation officer's sentencing recommendation. Talk to your attorney about this process before you meet with the probation officer. In addition, provide your attorney with references and other mitigation that your attorney can present to the court at your sentencing.
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