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  • Misdemeanor and Criminal Traffic Violations

    If you received a citation for a criminal or criminal traffic violation, also known as a misdemeanor, you must appear for an arraignment on your scheduled court date. Failing to appear for scheduled court date on misdemeanor cases will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest and additional charges could be imposed.

    The Arraignment

    Under Arizona law, you can be brought to trial only after a formal citation or complaint has been filed. The citation or complaint is a document that states the charge(s) against you and alleges that your actions were unlawful. If you were given a citation/complaint by a police officer, the arraignment date will be the appearance date on your citation/complaint. If you received a summons from the Court, your arraignment date will be the court date indicated on your summons. If you are released from jail your release order will have your court date on it.

    At your arraignment the Court is required to verify your true name and address; advise you of the charges against you and the maximum and any minimum required penalties that could be imposed if you are found guilty; explain your constitutional rights to you; and determine from you how you wish to plead. 

    There are three possible pleas to a criminal charge:

    1. Plea of Not Guilty;  A plea of "Not Guilty" means that you deny the allegation and the State (Prosecutor's Office) must prove the criminal charge(s) against you. On a plea of "Not Guilty," a Pre-Trial Conference will be scheduled. At trial, the State will be required to present evidence to prove all charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt.

      If you plead "Not Guilty", you must decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you. You may defend yourself, but no one except an attorney may represent you.

      If you are indigent and the state is seeking jail time the court may appoint an attorney to represent you.  If an attorney is appointed to represent you, you may be ordered to contribute to the cost of your attorney.

    2. Plea of No Contest (nolo contendere);  A plea of "No Contest", also known as "Nolo Contendere," simply means that you do not wish to contest the State's charge against you. Upon a plea of "No Contest" being accepted, the Judge will enter a judgment of guilty.  The judge will generally impose your sentence  immediately following the acceptance of your plea.

    3. Plea of Guilty:   A plea of "Guilty"means you admit that you committed the allegations charged in the complaint(s).  If you were involved in an incident where someone was injured at the time of the alleged offense, your plea of "Guilty" could be used later in a civil suit for damages as an admission by you that you were at fault or were the party responsible for the injury.

    Pre-Trial Conference

    You and your attorney will be given an opportunity to meet with a Prosecutor to review the facts supporting the State's charges against you. At the Pre-Trial Conference (PTC), you are entitled to review/receive a copy of the complaint(s), any written police reports, accident reports, and any other evidence that the State intends to use at the trial. You are not required to discuss the facts of your case with the Prosecutor, since anything you say to them could be used against you in further proceedings.

    You have three options at the PTC:

    1. Accept a Plea Agreement, if offerred by the State.

    2. Change your plea of "Not Guilty" to "Guilty" or "No Contest" directly to the Judge without agreeing on a sentence with the Prosecutor. If the Court accepts your plea, you will be sentenced by the Judge.  Both you and the Prosecutor will have an opportunity to address the Court before the Court determines the sentence.

    3. Maintain your plea of "Not Guilty" and have the case set for trial.


    You and the prosecutor will be asked the witnesses each of you expect to use at trial, and a list of the exhibits each of you will ask to be introduced as evidence at the trial.  Remember that you have the right to ask the Court to issue subpoenas for witnesses to ensure their presence at trial.  Requests for subpoenas should be made well in advance of trial so that you will have time to ensure that they are properly served.

    The Trial

    Depending on the alleged offense, you will be entitled to a jury trial or non- jury trial.
    You are entitled to hear all testimony introduced against you.
    You have a right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against you. You have a right to testify on your own behalf. You also have a Constitutional right not to testify. If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot and will not be used against you in determining your guilt or innocence. However, if you do choose to testify, the Prosecutor will have the right to cross-examine you.

    You may call witnesses to testify on your behalf.

    Sentencing

    The amount of any jail sentence, fine, fee, restitution, or probation assessed by the Court is affected by the facts and circumstances of the case and your prior criminal record. Mitigating circumstances may lower the amount of jail, fine, or probation. However, aggravating circumstances may increase the amount of jail, fine, or probation.

    For some offenses, there are statutory minimum sentences which the Judge must impose. In no instance will sentences exceed the maximum levels of $2,500 fine plus surcharges and/or 6 months in jail and/or 5 years probation.

     

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    Justice Court Ajo

    111 La Mina Ave.
    Ajo, AZ 85321

    (520) 387-7684

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