A specific procedure is used as laid down by the criminal statutes of the state of Arizona for processing adult offenders who are accused of commissioning felonious infractions. Cases pertaining to minor misdemeanors are handled by municipal court while those that have to do with juveniles are heard by juvenile courts. Prosecuting an adult offender often involves the issue of an Arizona arrest warrant which is handled by the court of the magistrate.
The investigation that leads to arrests and the release of Arizona outstanding warrants
When a crime is commissioned in AZ and report of this reaches the local police station, they send their deputies over to check out the matter. If they believe that the incident is criminal in nature, they will compile a report, collect evidence and take down witness testimony. Sometimes the accused is caught leaving the crime scene just as troopers show up. In this scenario, the offender can be taken into custody without seeking an active warrant in his name.
If a warrant is required, the affidavit prepared by the police that describes the criminal incident, the evidence and the involvement of the suspect in the act, has to be run by the prosecuting attorney. If the lawyer finds the information insufficient for filing criminal charges, the petition will be returned with the remark that further investigation is required.
On the other hand, if the proof is enough to make the charges stick, state attorneys have the option of choosing from two courses of action.
Filing of formal charges
When an arrest cannot be made while the crime is being commissioned or right after it, prosecution will either file a direct complaint or seek a grand jury hearing. Although these processes are different, the outcome is the same. An active warrant is issued in the name of the culprit if the magistrate in case of a direct complaint or the jurors in case of a grand jury hearing can find probable cause against the offender.
Arrests and hearings
After arrests, offenders are taken to the sheriff’s office, mug shots and fingerprints are taken at this point as the police try to verify the identity of the arrestee. Unlike in some other states, prosecution gets involved in criminal matters since the investigation stage at which an attorney may join the sheriff’s deputies to help them with the legal intricacies.
People who are being detained in connection with felonies have to be taken to court for an initial hearing. Through this session, the magistrate reads out the charges that the state has brought against the accused. The judge advises the defendant of his right to legal representation and decides if the alleged offender can be let out on bail. A preliminary hearing follows the Initial Appearance in which it is decided if the defendant should face trial based on the charges filed against him.
Arraignment, pre-trial and the trial proper
Once it is found that the accused should stand trial for his indiscretions, the arraignment is held within ten days. At this hearing, the accused enters a plea. If he pleads ‘guilty’, the matter directly goes to sentencing or a plea bargain is offered. On the other hand, if he pleads ‘not guilty’, the matter will go to trial. Because under Arizona laws defendants are entitled to quick trials, a date for the same has to be set within 120 days from the initial appearance.
The pre-trial hearings are a range of activities that are performed before the matter is heard by the jurors in a court. Controversies are settled at this point and information is exchanged between both sides. A final trial management conference is held towards the end of this stage to set the trial schedule.
Finally, the matter goes to trial where the prosecution and the defense are given the chance to argue their point. While the state has to prove guilt, defense merely has to create reasonable doubt. The verdict is delivered by the jurors but the sentencing is carried out by the magistrate in keeping with the laws of the land, prior crime history of the accused and more.