Felony Case Progression Information
DM CANTOR is presenting you with a general outline of how your case will proceed with our Firm once you retain our services. The first documents that are filed on your behalf are the “Notice of Appearance,” and “Request for Discovery.” The Notice of Appearance informs the Court that we will be appearing on all future Court dates on your behalf, and, in all cases, you must actually appear in Court with us on the designated Court dates (unless we have filed a “Motion to Modify Conditions of Release,” with will allow just us to appear without you). We will notify you by mail, e-mail and/or by phone of all Court dates.
Your very first Court date is what is known as an “Initial Appearance.” You may have already had this completed if you saw a Judge while in jail. At this point, the Judge determines your “Conditions of Release.” Next is a “Preliminary Hearing.” We appear with you to review the State’s case and possibly challenge the State’s Probable Cause determination with an actual Preliminary Hearing. If no deal is reached or no Hearing is held, we then have the case sent from “Justice Court” to “Superior Court” for the Counties outside of Maricopa County which still utilize Justice Courts to conduct Felony work. In Maricopa County and Yavapai County, all Felony cases begin in Superior Court at “Early Disposition Court” (i.e., E.D.C). Sometimes, Preliminary Hearings are “Scratched.” This just means that the Prosecutor was unprepared to proceed, and he/she has the ability to Refile your case anywhere up to seven (7) years from the date of violation. The norm is that he/she will Refile it within 2-9 months. When it is Refiled, then we start over with an Initial Appearance before a Justice of the Peace or Superior Court Judge (depending on in which County you were Charged).
Sometimes Preliminary Hearings are “Vacated.” This means that the State is proceeding by way of “Grand Jury” in order to determine Probable Cause to issue an “Indictment.” This normally will occur within several weeks after the Court date has been “Vacated,” although the Prosecutor still has up to seven (7) years from the date of violation to do this (even longer in certain very serious Felony Sexual Offences). Once an Indictment is handed down, then DM Cantor will appear with you at the Initial Appearance in front of a Superior Court Judge. Either way, we will continue working on your case during this interim time period in order to conduct effective Discovery, and we will attempt to work with the Prosecutor in an effort have him either not Refile the case, or Refile it as a “Lesser Offense” than originally charged.
After the Initial Appearance or Preliminary Hearing stages, “Pre-Trial Conferences” will be held approximately every thirty (30) days between DM Cantor and the Prosecutor. The purpose of the Pre-Trial Conference is to determine whether all of the “Discovery” has been completed. Discovery includes investigation of all Witnesses, all Forensic Evidence, documentation, consultation with Experts (if necessary) and all other issues which need to be explored prior to the consideration of any type of “Plea Agreement” or “Motion filing.” All Motions and Motion Hearings will be conducted during this Discovery Phase, and you will be informed whether your testimony and presence will be necessary at any potential Motion Hearings.
Remember, it can take three to five (3-5) weeks before we receive the Police Report from the Prosecutor after we submit our Request for Discovery. Therefore, it is not necessary to call our staff in the days immediately after you retain to ask “have you gotten the Police Report,” “what’s going on with my case.” “what is my case status,” “what happened at my first Court date,” etc. The main progress regarding your case will begin once the Police Report and other discovery is obtained, roughly three to five (3-5) weeks after you have retained DM Cantor.
After all Discovery is conducted and completed, and after all Motions have been filed, you will be brought in to discuss the basis of those Motions and whether you will be required to testify at those Motion Hearings. Once the Motions are argued and ruled upon by the Judge, you will be informed of the outcome. If the case is not Dismissed during the Motion Process, then Final Plea Negotiations will be entered into with the Prosecutor. After a Final Plea Offer is received, you will be brought in to the office to discuss whether you choose to accept the Prosecutor’s Offer, or whether you wish to proceed on to Jury Trial and fight the State’s allegations.
When you retain DM Cantor, we ask that you not direct any Legal Questions to the staff; they are not Attorneys and they are not allowed to answer any technical, Legal Questions. However, they can answer Procedural Questions which deal with the “when” and “where” of your case’s standing. Only the Attorneys can answer the “how” and “why.” Although you will have the entire DM Cantor Defense Team on your side, the bulk of the work on cases are typically assigned to one Partner and one Associate (the “Primary Attorney”). Because the Partner cannot be everywhere at once, the Primary Attorney will do most of the leg work, and you will have most of your contact with them and their Legal Assistant.
DM Cantor maintains an open-door policy and you can call in to have questions answered at any time, or set up an appointment to meet in person. We normally attempt to return phone calls within twenty-four to forty-eight hours (i.e. within 1 or 2 business days). Please keep in mind that we are very busy and we are in Court and meetings most of the day. We are not ignoring you if it does take up to 48 hours to get back to you. We normally maintain updates and contact approximately every thirty (30) days (usually after each Pre-Trial Conference).
If you receive any mail from the Court police, contact DM Cantor immediately. Do not discuss your case with the Police, Insurance Companies or Witnesses. Have them contact us if they have questions.