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May
05

How felony charges are filed in Arizona

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Many clients often express confusion regarding the process by which felony cases are brought to court in Arizona.  I recently encountered the following article entitled guidelines for sexual misconduct and boundary violation cases (Arizona Board of Nursing) which provides a good explanation.

A criminal case is charged by either the grand jury or a criminal complaint. If a case is charged
by the grand jury, the prosecutor presents evidence to the grand jurors. The grand jury issues a
“true bill,” indicating that a crime has been committed and the defendant is the perpetrator. The
grand jury proceedings remain secret until the “true bill”/indictment is issued. The grand jury
indictment is then filed in superior court and is contained in the defendant’s court file.

The state may file a criminal complaint. The complaint is filed under oath by a peace officer
alleging the offense. Complaints are usually filed in city court.

After the offense is charged, the defendant is then serviced with a criminal summons to appear in
court. A summons is the preferred method as opposed to an arrest warrant. Rule 3.1(b), Ariz. R.
Crim. P. If the defendant fails to honor the summons, the trial court issues a warrant for the
defendant’s arrest.

The defendant makes an initial appearance before a magistrate. Rule 4.2, Ariz. R. Crim. P. If
the defendant fails to honor the summons, the trial court issues a warrant for the defendant’s
arrest.

The defendant makes an initial appearance before a magistrate. Rule 4.2, Ariz. R. Crim. P. The
magistrate informs the defendant of the charges against him/her, determines the defendant’s
release, and appoints counsel if the defendant is eligible. A defendant who is charged by
complaint is entitled to a preliminary hearing for a determination of probable cause. Rules 4.2
and 5.2, Ariz. R. Crim. P. The defendant charged by indictment is not entitled to a preliminary
hearing because the grand jurors made a finding of probable cause prior to their issuance of the
“true bill.”

Categories : Criminal Law
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The Arizona Defense Law Blog is published by Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney Joshua S. Davidson. Nothing on this website is intended to create an Attorney-Client relationship and the information provided herein is for general information purposes only.

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