Justice Courts, City / Municipal Courts & Superior Courts in Arizona

Arrested in Arizona? Call Today for Help!

If you have been arrested for a criminal offense in Arizona, you will receive a notice of the date of your arraignment, or of your next court appearance. Your case will be handled based on the jurisdiction of the court. It is important to check your ticket because if you were cited into the wrong court, you may have a jurisdictional defense.

Scroll below and click on any of the Arizona Courts listed to see information on the Judges, locations, directions and more. All of our defense attorneys are very experienced in each court with a combined victory count of more than 5,000 wins.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, call us today 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (602) 307-0808 to set a FREE initial consultation, or fill out our confidential form online.

Justice Courts in Arizona:

Information about the Justice Court System in Arizona

Each county in Arizona has at least one Justice Court. The number of Justice Courts that are located in each county depends on its population size. For instance, Maricopa County has 26 Justice Courts. Justice Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, which means that they do not handle every type of offense. They are presided over by a justice of the peace who is elected every four years. The Justice Courts have jurisdiction to hear the following types of cases:

  • Criminal and civil traffic offenses
  • Misdemeanor offenses
  • Initial appearances for felony charges
  • Preliminary hearings for felonies

Misdemeanors that may be handled by the Justice Courts include those that carry punishments of less than six months in jail or by fines of less than $2,500.

Some examples of the types of misdemeanors that may be heard in a Justice Court include the following:

  • DUI and Vehicular Crimes
  • Shoplifting
  • Protection order violations
  • Misdemeanor assault
  • Check fraud
  • Civil traffic violations
  • Criminal traffic violations

If a Justice Court finds probable cause that a felony has been committed following a preliminary hearing, the person who has been charged will be bound over for further proceedings in the Superior Court.

City Courts / Municipal Courts in Arizona:

Information about City / Municipal Courts in Arizona

The terms City Courts and Municipal Courts are used interchangeably to refer to courts that have been established by the different cities in Arizona. City Courts are courts with limited jurisdiction and are inferior courts to the Superior Courts. When a person appeals from a judgment in a City Court, the Superior Court may handle the appeal. City Courts handle traffic violations, violations of local ordinances, and misdemeanors. They have jurisdiction to hear the following types of cases:

  • Misdemeanors committed within the city’s limits
  • DUIs, reckless driving, and hit-and-run accidents when no injuries occurred
  • Petty offenses
  • Shared jurisdiction with the Justice Courts when offenses were committed within the city’s limits

Municipal courts also handle civil traffic violations. The judges in city courts are called magistrates. The magistrates are appointed by City Councils and may or may not be attorneys. For example, a rural county might appoint a magistrate that is not an attorney.

Superior Courts in Arizona:

Arizona Superior Court Information

Superior Courts in Arizona have general jurisdiction over a broad variety of criminal matters and DUI cases. The Superior Courts are state-wide trial courts with multiple locations across the state. Under Article VI Sect. 14 of the Arizona Constitution, the Superior Courts have general jurisdiction to handle many different types of cases, including felony offenses and misdemeanors. Some examples of felony cases that might be heard in Superior Court include the following:

  • Violent crimes such as homicides, armed robbery, and others
  • Felony assaults
  • Sex crimes
  • Felony theft
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Aggravated DUI  involving serious injuries or deaths
  • Car thefts

Most of the criminal cases that are heard in Superior Courts are felony offenses. However, these courts do hear some misdemeanor cases.

Article VI of the Arizona Constitution provides the superior jurisdiction over the following types of criminal cases:

  • Exclusive jurisdiction over most felonies except when the jurisdiction has been assigned to a different court
  • Shared jurisdiction over misdemeanors with the Justice Courts when the penalty does not exceed six months of jail or a fine of $2,500
  • Cases for which other courts do not have jurisdiction
  • Misdemeanors that have not been provided for by the law and criminal cases in which the conduct amounts to a felony

Superior Courts that have multiple divisions will also have a special juvenile court that will handle all of the criminal matters involving minors. The Juvenile Court will be discussed further below.

Juvenile Courts in Arizona:

Under Article IV, Part 2, Section 22 of the Arizona Constitution, juvenile courts have been established to handle cases involving juveniles who have committed a variety of different types of offenses. However, the constitution states that juveniles who are ages 15 or older and who are accused of murder, armed robbery, forcible sexual assaults, and other violent crimes will be prosecuted as adults instead of as juveniles. In addition, juveniles who are ages 15 or older and who are deemed to be chronic felony offenders will also be prosecuted as adults.

Juvenile courts handle cases involving minors who are considered to be delinquent or incorrigible. Under A.R.S. § 8-201, a minor who is incorrigible is a person who is younger than age 18 who has been adjudicated as a runaway, as a truant, and who is beyond his or her parent’s control. A minor who is delinquent is someone who has been adjudicated for an offense that would have amounted to a criminal misdemeanor or felony if it had been committed by an adult.

The juvenile courts proceed differently than the adult trial courts, and they enforce the juvenile laws. The juvenile laws can be found in Title 8 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. The juvenile courts also have their own rules of procedure, which can be found here.

Under A.R.S. § 13-501, a county prosecutor must charge a minor as an adult when he or she is 15 or older and has been charged with the following types of offenses:

When a juvenile is 14, the county prosecutor may choose to charge him or her as an adult when the minor is accused of committing the following types of offenses:

  • Class 1 or 2 felonies
  • Certain Class 3 felonies
  • Class 3, 4, 5, or 6 dangerous felonies
  • Any felony offense when the juvenile is considered to be a chronic felony offender

When the county prosecutor files the charges against a juvenile who is considered to be a chronic felony offender, he or she must also file a notice with the court. The juvenile’s lawyer may then file a motion with the court for a hearing to determine whether he or she is a chronic offender or if his or her case should instead remain in the juvenile court.

If the court finds at the hearing that the juvenile is not a chronic felony offender, his or her case will go through the juvenile court. If the court finds that the juvenile is a chronic felony offender, his or her case will proceed through the adult criminal court. If convicted, a juvenile who is prosecuted in the adult criminal court will face the same penalties as adults who are convicted of similar felony offenses.

If the prosecuting attorney wants to try other juveniles in adult criminal court, the prosecutor will have to file a motion to transfer the case. The court will then hold a hearing to determine whether the seriousness of the offense warrants the transfer in order to protect the public and whether probable cause to proceed exists. It is very important for the families of juveniles who have received notice of the county attorney’s intent to prosecute them in adult criminal court to get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Types of Courts in Arizona

There are five primary types of courts that hear criminal cases in Arizona, including the following:

  • Justice Court
  • Superior Court
  • City Court /Municipal Court
  • Juvenile Court
  • Court of Appeal and the Arizona Supreme Court

The Justice Courts, Superior Courts, City/Municipal Courts, and Juvenile Courts are the courts that try the cases over which they have jurisdiction. The Arizona Court of Appeal and the Arizona Supreme Court hear appeals of the decisions that are made in the Superior Courts. The Superior Courts have jurisdiction to hear appeals from the Justice Courts and the City/Municipal Courts. We will take an in-depth look at each of these different types of courts below.

If you have received a ticket for a misdemeanor crime or DUI in Arizona you must check to see if it says City Court / Municipal Court or Justice Court.  If you were stopped by a city police officer you will be cited to a City Court and if you were stopped by a DPS officer you will be going to a Justice Court.

Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court

The appellate system in Arizona includes the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court. These courts do not hear trials but may hear appeals from convictions and other lower court decisions. When a person is convicted in a Superior Court at trial, he or she may file an appeal with the Court of Appeals to review the decision. The conviction may be overturned if a prejudicial error occurred in the trial. If a verdict is overturned, the prosecutor may decide to try the case again or may decide to dismiss the charges.

People may appeal the decision of the Court of Appeals by filing a writ of certiorari to the Arizona Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has discretionary jurisdiction, which means that it has the power to refuse to grant certiorari. However, the Arizona Supreme Court will always hear appeals from the lower court in cases in which the death penalty was handed down. In addition, the Supreme Court hears habeas corpus petitions.

Get Help with Your Court Case Today

If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, it is important for you to seek help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At DM Cantor, we regularly appear on our clients’ behalf in all of the trial courts, including the Justice Courts, Municipal Courts, and Superior Courts. We also help our clients with their appeals. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 602.307.0808 or click the contact button below.

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