Are You Looking For a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Tempe?
Why You Should Hire Criminal Defense Attorney Robert A. Dodell – Pre-Charging Investigation
The Court and Procedural Information
There are two types of criminal offenses in Arizona – misdemeanors or felonies. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that will not result in time served in the state prison; however, jail time in the county or city jail may still be a possibility. A felony, on the other hand, could result in time spent in a state prison. A felony conviction can make it difficult to obtain gainful employment and can affect your right to vote or own a gun.
Jails are controlled by either the city or the county. The court system may offer a work release or work furlough, allowing prisoners to maintain the job while in jail. A sentence in a city or county jail may not exceed six months from the date of a defendant’s conviction. Probation may be possible and may or may not be supervised by the court system.
Prisons are controlled by the State of Arizona. While serving a prison sentence, no work release or furlough is available. In most cases, a convicted person must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before being eligible for release. The time served in prison can range from 4 months to a life sentence. Those facing a death sentence will also be kept in prison until their execution.
The Initial Appearance (I.A.)
After a defendant is arrested on a felony charge, they have a court appearance within 48 hours of their arrest. This initial appearance is when the defendant will be advised of the charges that led to their arrest. It will also include the conditions of the release and the court will determine the scheduling of the next court date.
The court system may impose various conditions concerning a release to ensure that the defendant will return to court on their court date. These conditions can include:
* Own Recognizance (O.R.) – The defendant is released on their promise to appear at future court appearances.
* Electronic Monitoring Devices – The defendant is released subject to having an electronic device put on that monitors, tracks and restricts the defendant’s movements.
* Pre-Trial Services – This is a supervised release and may include periodic drug tests.
* Third Party Release – A third party is responsible for ensuring the defendant appears at court.
* Secured Appearance Bond – With this condition, the court requires the defendant to post cash or property to ensure their release from custody. If the defendant fails to appear for court, the court system keeps the money or property. Bonds can be posted personally or by a bail bondsman. The bondsman will charge a fee of 10 percent of the total bond plus enough collateral to ensure the total bond price. Defendants using a bail bondsman should shop around for the best deal with the least restrictions.
Probable Cause Hearings (Felonies only)
During a preliminary hearing, the judge at the Superior Court Regional Court Center in Maricopa County or the Justice Court will determine if the state has gathered sufficient evidence to bring a case to ?a Superior Court arraignment and subsequent trial. The Grand Jury proceeding uses at least nine people to determine if the State has gathered sufficient evidence to take a case to trail.
An arraignment is a court appearance where a defendant enters a plea deal. There will be no testimony given and no witnesses will be present during this court appearance. There are three options during an arraignment.
* Not Guilty – The defendant informs the court system that they deny any guilt and the prosecutor’s office (the State) must prove the criminal charges against the defendant. A plea of not guilty means that a pre-trial conference will be held, followed by a trial date. At the trial, the prosecutor’s office will be required to present enough evidence to prove that the charges being placed against the defendant are beyond a reasonable doubt.
* No Contest (nolo contendere) – The defendant does not want to contest the prosecutor’s charges against them. If a defendant pleads no contest, the court will enter a guilty judgment.
* Guilty – The defendant admits that they committed the act or acts that they are being charged in the complaint. This act is against the law and the defendant has no legal defense for the act or acts they have committed. It should be noted that if a defendant pleads guilty in an incident that caused someone else to be injured during the offense, the guilty plea could later be used in a civil suit for damages because a guilty plea is an admission that the defendant is at fault and is responsible for the injury.
As a general rule, the Arizona Superior Court will not allow a defendant to enter a guilty plea or no contest during their arraignment. The decision to enter a plea is one of the most important things a defendant does; therefore, it is imperative that the defendant reads the following explanation and consults with their criminal defense attorney before entering a plea.
In certain cases, a defendant may be eligible for a diversion, which is an alternative to the normal trial process. If a defendant is eligible, he/she will be required to proceed through an educational or counseling program. Then, the charges will normally either be dismissed or not filed.
The court system may or may not set a pretrial conference. During this conference, the attorneys will exchange and share information with the court system on the status of the trial preparation and case. If the prosecutor’s office offers a plea bargain, this will be when the defendant will typically enter a plea in exchange for a plea deal before the court.
At their arraignment, the defendant may have entered a plea of not guilty and then change it at a later time. When a defendant enters a plea bargain, they are pleading either guilty or no contest. A plea bargain often results in a punishment that is less severe than the possible sentence the defendant may have received if the case went to trial.
The justice system guarantees that everyone is entitled to a fair trial that demands the government prove the defendants guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the offense, the defendant may be offered either a jury trial or a non-jury trial. The number of jurors in a jury trial will depend on the charges and the defendants criminal history.
Defendants are entitled to hear all of the testimony lodged against them. If a defendant does not appear at a trial, it can be held against the defendant and the defendant may be found guilty even if they are absent. The defendant has a right to cross-examine all witnesses that testify against them. The defendant also has a right to testify for themselves. Additionally, defendants have a Constitutional right not to testify. If a defendant chooses not to testify, it cannot and will not be used against the defendant when determining their guilt or innocence. It should be noted that a defendant that testifies will be cross-examined by the prosecutor. A defendant may also call witnesses to testify on their behalf. If a witness does not voluntarily appear, the witness can be subpoenaed by the court to testify as a witness.
If a defendant changes their plea or is convicted of a misdemeanor at the conclusion of a trial, the court system will proceed to an immediate sentencing. The court may delay sentencing for up to 30 days in a felony case. The purpose for this 30-day delay is to allow the defendant to meet with the probation department. This also allows for a pre-sentence report to be given to the judge. If the defendant meets with the probation department, the defendant should make every attempt to put their best foot forward and cooperate with the probation department. The probation department’s recommendations are crucial to the judge’s evaluation of the defendant’s case and can reflect on the sentence the judge issues to the defendant. The amount of jail time, the fees, fines, restitution and probation will be assessed by the court system based on the facts and circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal record. Mitigating circumstances may lower the fines, prison or jail time or probation. Aggravating circumstances, on the other hand, can increase prison or jail times, fines or length of probation. Remember that some offenses carry a minimum sentence that the judge must enforce.
The defendant must be required to pay restitution for any economic loss or damage suffered by the victim. All restitution payments are paid through the court system and then disbursed to the victim. If the defendant’s insurance company will pay the restitution, the company must make payment to the court or provide proof of payment to the court so it can accurately record the payment as a part of the defendant’s sentence.
Post-Conviction Relief and Appeals
If a defendant is convicted, the defendant has a right to seek a judicial review of the judgment and sentencing. The time frame for this can vary, so it is best to seek legal advice immediately following a conviction.
Set Aside Convictions
After a defendant completes their terms of the sentence, the court system can enter an order to set aside the criminal conviction. Learn more about my setting aside legal services.
Why Should You Choose Robert Dodell for Your Criminal Case?
If you are accused of a criminal offense, you should contact Robert A Dodell, Attorney at Law immediately because your rights, future and freedom are at stake. A criminal defense attorney like Robert A. Dodell has the experience needed to properly handle your case. I provide individualized service and protect my defendants’ rights. Contact me at 480-860-4321 or email to set up your free initial consultation to see how I can help you.