Tempe City Court Information

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People who are charged with crimes in Tempe, Arizona typically will have their case sent to the Tempe City Court. If you are facing charges and have been ordered to appear, it is important for you to understand the process so that you know what to expect. Getting help from an experienced Tempe Defense Lawyer at DM Cantor might help you to secure a successful resolution to your case.

Below is information regarding Tempe City Court, its process, and the different types of cases it handles.

Watch this video from David Michael Cantor talking about the Tempe City Court/ Municipal Court:


The Tempe City Court has limited jurisdiction to hear misdemeanor cases that have occurred within the city limits. It shares jurisdiction to hear misdemeanors with the Justice Court. Tempe City Court handles traffic violations, violations of local ordinances, and misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is any crime which has a maximum punishment of up to six months in county jail. In addition, the highest fine can be $2500 plus additional surcharges and penalties which approach 84%. All cases which have court dates in City or Magistrate courts, such as Tempe City Court, are misdemeanors. Some common misdemeanors that are heard in Tempe City Court include the following:

  • DUI offenses
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Petty theft
  • Some cybercrimes (Ex. Stalking or bullying)
  • Misdemeanor assault/domestic violence
  • Trespassing
  • Minor sex crimes (Ex. Prostitution, indecent exposure)



Your first appearance is called an arraignment. Arraignments in Tempe City Court begin at 8:30 a.m., and you should not appear late. This is a hearing in which the judge will advise you of the charges against you. In addition, the judge will ascertain your true name and address: inform you of the charges against you; inform you of your various constitutional rights; consider any view of comments offered by the victim concerning the issues of release (this usually occurs on assault and domestic violence cases); and determine your conditions of “release.”

Since misdemeanor offenses carry a possible jail sentence, you have the right to be represented by an attorney. It is a good idea for you to hire a lawyer before your arraignment so that he or she can appear with you. You will be asked at the end of the arraignment whether you plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you do not have a defense lawyer present, do not enter guilty or no contest plea.

During this portion of your case, a lawyer can negotiate to reduce the charges or secure a lesser sentence in your case. In cases where negotiations cannot reduce sentencing an attorney may be able to successfully fight the charges later on at a jury or bench trial. If you enter a plea of not guilty at the end of your arraignment, you will receive a future court date to appear.


Your attorney will have the opportunity to meet with the prosecutor to try and negotiate a better plea offer at the pretrial conference. He or she may also file motions in your case. For example, if you have been charged with a DUI offense, your attorney may review the evidence to determine whether the officer conducted a traffic stop and investigation in a constitutional manner. If any problems occurred, your lawyer may file a motion to suppress some or all of the evidence against you. If your lawyer files evidentiary motions, a motions hearing will be set by the court.


At a motions hearing, you will have the opportunity to hear the officer testify. Your lawyer will be able to challenge him or her in cross-examination. In many cases, succeeding at a suppression hearing means that the prosecutor will be forced to dismiss the charges or perhaps reduce the evidence that the prosecutor can use against you in trial. Your case will be set for trial if you are unable to resolve your case through the negotiations process.


If you do not succeed at a motion hearing and are unable to resolve your case through the negotiations process, your case will be set for trial. You have the right to a jury trial or can opt to have your case heard by a judge in a bench trial. Your lawyer will discuss your rights with you so that you understand the option that might be best for you in this particular case.

At your trial, the prosecutor will call witnesses to testify against you. Your lawyer will be able to cross-examine each witness. You also will have the right to testify. However, it may not be a good idea in some cases. Your lawyer can provide you with some guidance with whether or not you might want to testify in your own defense. You are also able to call a witness to testify in your defense case.

Once the prosecution and the defense have finished presenting evidence, they will give closing statements before the case is sent to jury. The jury will deliberate and will return its verdict. If you are convicted, you will be sentenced by the judge according to the type of offense and level of the misdemeanor of which you are convicted.


In Arizona, misdemeanors are divided into three classes that denote how serious they are. Under A.R.S 13-707, class 1 misdemeanors are divided into three classes that denote how serious they are. The potential sentences for misdemeanor convictions other that DUIs are as follows:

  • Six-month jail for Class 1 misdemeanor
  • A maximum of four months in jail for a class 4 misdemeanor
  • A maximum of 30 days in jail for a class 3 misdemeanor

If you are over the age of 18 and have been convicted of at least one previous misdemeanor offense within the past two years, you will be sentenced under the next higher Class for your current misdemeanor conviction.

In addition to the potential for a sentence to incarceration, you may also be ordered to pay a fine. Under A.R.S 13-802, the fines that may be ordered for the different misdemeanor levels include the following:

  • Class 1 misdemeanors – up to $2,500
  • Class 2 misdemeanors – fine up to $750
  • Class 3 misdemeanors – fine up to $500

If you are convicted of a petty offense, you may be ordered to pay a fine up to $300.

Under A.R.S 13-902, the magistrate may sentence you top a term of probation. In most cases, a sentence of probation may be issued in lieu of jail time. The length of probationary sentence will depend on the class of your misdemeanor conviction as follows:

  • Three (3) years for Class 1 misdemeanor
  • Two (2) years for Class 2 misdemeanor
  • One (1) year for Class 3 misdemeanor


DUI cases are among the largest number of misdemeanor offenses that are heard in the Tempe City Court. The potential penalties for DUI convictions are quite severe.

Under A.R.S 28-1381, you can be charged with DUI if you drive or are in actual physical control of a car or other vehicle when you have drunk alcohol or have used drugs if you are impaired to the slightest degree. You can also be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol concentration is found to be 0.08% or higher within two hours of when you drove.

This means that you may be charged with DUI when the prosecutor does not have information about your blood alcohol concentration such as if you refused a breath or blood test. It is also possible for you to be charged with a DUI even when your BAC was under 0.08%. If your BAC tested at 0.05% to 0.79%, it will be given rise to a presumption that you were not driving under the influence. However, the prosecutor can present evidence that you were impaired, and you could still be convicted. If your BAC was lower that 0.05%, there will be a presumption that you were not impaired. If you have a CDL and are charged with drunk driving while operating a commercial vehicle, you can be found guilty of DUI if your BAC tests at 0.04%. This is why It is important for you to get help form an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with DUI.


The penalties that you might face for a DUI conviction in Tempe City Court will depend on a few different factors, including whether you have prior DUI convictions and your blood alcohol concentration. The potential penalties for the first DUI conviction include the following:

  • 10 days in jail, but nine days can be waived by completing alcohol assessment and treatment
  • Driver’s license suspension from 90 days to one year
  • Mandatory installation of ignition interlock device for one year
  • Pay fine of $250
  • Pay and assessment of $500 to the state treasurer prison construction fund
  • Pay and assessment of $500 to public safety equipment fund
  • Attendance a traffic safety and survival school
  • Complete an alcohol assessment and receive alcohol counseling

If your blood alcohol concentration was .15% or higher, the penalties will be enhanced. You will face 90 days in jail, but you will be eligible for home detention after you serve six days. The fines will be higher, and your license will be revoked for one year. You will still have the other penalties that were listed above.

For a second or subsequent offense within several years, the penalties will be even higher. It is very important for you to get legal help when you have been charged with any DUI offense and have been ordered to appear in Tempe City Court.


Under A.R.S 13-1203, you can be charged with assault when a person either intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes any physical injury to another person; knowingly touches another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke; or intentionally places another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury. Normally any type of red mark or scratch can qualify as an “injury” under this statue. If the Assault incident involves 2 people who live together, were romantically involved, or who are somehow related, then this is a “Domestic Violence” charged under A.R.S 13-2601 “Domestic Violence Assault.” The Domestic Violence designation carries some serious ramifications in addition to standard punishment. For instance, you can no longer carry a firearm if a Domestic Violence conviction is on your record. This could cost a police officer, security guard, or military person their job.


Most misdemeanor assaults are charged as class one misdemeanors, however, sometimes they are charged at the lower levels of class two and three misdemeanors if the defendant is found to not have intentionally committed assault or didn’t cause any physical injury.

Class 1 misdemeanor- range of punishments from probation, max punishment of 6 months in jail, or a $2,500 fine with 80% sur charge.

Class 2 misdemeanor- probation, up to 4 months in jail, and a $750 with 84% surcharge


All misdemeanor cases carry the potential for jail time, substantial fines, and other penalties. It is important for you to talk to a lawyer before you enter a guilty plea. Your attorney can review the evidence that is being used against you to identify all of the defenses that you might raise in your defense. An attorney may be able to secure a plea to a lesser offense or to an alternative sentence that does not include jail time in some cases. If you want to fight the charges, your lawyer can thoroughly prepare you for a trial and represent you before the jury or judge.

Our attorneys are familiar with the city’s prosecutors, judges, and police officers and are available to anticipate how your case might be handled. This helps us to identify the potential defenses that can be raised so that you can obtain a better outcome. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 602.307.0808.


140 E 5th Street,

Tempe, AZ 85281


(480) 350-8271

Court Business Hours:

Monday- Friday 8:00 am- 5:00 pm

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