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May 17, 2022

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The Path a Case Takes Through the Legal System

Each side is supported by an advocate in the following case summaries. There is Adjudication Decision

and system. However, this is not always the case, particularly in limited authority courts. People can represent oneself in court without the need for a lawyer if they obey the norms of the court. Self-represented litigants are sometimes known as pro per, pro se, or pro se litigants.

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While the purpose of this book is to provide a general understanding of Arizona court guidelines and processes, not all cases follow the same path.

Case Processing in Courts with Limited Jurisdiction

Criminal cases are often handled by limited jurisdiction courts in the following manner:

1. First Appearance – This is the defendant’s first court appearance, and he or she is informed of the charges. If the accused can afford an attorney, the judge assigns one for him.

2. Arraignment – The offender is brought before the court to submit a guilty or not guilty plea. The initial appearance and arraignment are often combined in limited jurisdiction courts.

3. Trial – A trial is held if the accused pleads not guilty. The judge, or a jury, at the defendant’s request, can hear the evidence and find the accused guilty or not guilty.

4. Sentencing — If the offender is actually convicted, the court will sentence him or her (sentence).

5. Appeals — Superior courts hear appeals from limited jurisdiction court rulings. If documents of the trial procedures have been retained, the superior court justice may hear the appeal as a fresh trial (a trial de novo). Small claims court decisions are not appealable.

Case Management at Superior Court

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Criminal and civil lawsuits are the two most common forms of court matters in superior court. Criminal and civil trials are often conducted in the same manner. The jury decides the facts of this case and renders a judgement after all the information has been given and the judge has presented the law relevant to the case to the jury. When there is no court, the judge decides the case.

1. Arrest — A person is detained by a police officer who either witnesses a crime or has a search for their arrest when there is probable cause to believe they committed a crime. If a person is arrested, he or she must appear in front of a court for an initial presentation within 24 hours of the arrest or be freed.

2. Initial Appearance – The court determines the defendant’s name and residence, tells the accused of the charges, and informs the defendant of his or her right to stay silent and have an attorney at the initial appearance. If the accused cannot afford an attorney, the judge appoints one and establishes the terms of his or her release.

3. Preliminary Hearing — If a pretrial hearing is scheduled, the judge will hear testimony and evidence from witnesses summoned by both the prosecution and defence attorneys. The offender is detained for trial in superior court and an appearance date is scheduled if the judge thinks there is sufficient evidence to suspect the defendant committed the crime.

4. Arraignment — The offender enters a guilty, not charged and convicted, or no contest plea during the arraignment (nolo contendere). The judge will schedule a trial if the defendant submits a not guilty plea. The court will schedule a date for the defendant to be sentenced if the defendant makes a guilty plea or proclaims no challenge to the charges.…

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