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June 30, 2016

The Stages of a Felony Case from an Arizona Criminal Lawyer

Filed under: Arizona Criminal Law,Criminal Trial Process — admin @ 10:48 am

arizona criminal lawyer processWhen you’re charged with a felony, facing the criminal justice system for the first time can be frightening, especially if you’re unprepared. It’s important to know what’s going to happen so you can prepare. Depending on the severity of the charges, this can be a very long and drawn-out process. In the state of Arizona, a good criminal defense lawyer will guide you and your case through the following steps.

Citation or Arrest

The first thing that will happen is the initial arrest or citation. If arrested the suspect is booked and will be held in custody until the initial appearance, usually within 24 hours of the arrest. In the event of a citation, the suspect is merely summoned on a certain date to appear before a judge. During the initial appearance, the judge will determine the conditions of the defendant’s release until the following court date. Several factors determine this, such as the severity of the crime, the defendant’s flight risk, and their criminal record. This is also when the date for the preliminary hearing will be set.

Preliminary Hearing

Also known as the probable cause hearing, the preliminary hearing is where the prosecution will attempt to establish probable cause against the defendant in order to justify going to trial. The defense can choose to cross-examine any witnesses the prosecution produces at this time.


Arraignment is the next stage and is often seen in procedural crime television shows. This is where the judge will read the charges against the defendant and ask if he or she has legal representation or would like the court to appoint one to them. The judge will also schedule future court dates and the accused will be asked to enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.” Sometimes, a lesser punishment, such as reduced or dropped charges or a recommendation for lenient sentencing, can be negotiated by the defense by pleading guilty to a crime.

Pre-Trial Conferences

Before the trial, there will generally be about three or four pre-trial conferences, which happen roughly every 30 days. During these conferences, the judge meets with the prosecution and defense to ensure all items have been turned over to the court. This is when plea bargains can be negotiated and the defense can file motions such as motions to dismiss, force witnesses to appear and testify, and to suppress evidence.


Finally, when the trial date arrives, there are two possible options. A jury trial will consist of eight or 12 peers who will review the evidence provided and determine a verdict of guilty or not guilty. During a bench trial, the presiding judge will review the evidence and decide the verdict.


The last stage of a criminal case is sentencing. In the event of a plea or a guilty verdict, the defendant will appear before the judge, who will then determine the disposition of the case. At this time, the defense can motion for a hearing to negotiate or mitigate for a lesser punishment.

It’s important to have an aggressive defense counsel when facing any kind of criminal charges. The Blumenreich Law Firm has years of experience defending the rights of Arizona’s citizens in the courtroom. We can help you prepare and will be with you every step of the way. Contact us online or call (602) 252-2570 for a free consultation.