Court Logo Court Logo
Arizona Superior Court in Pima County

Sequence of Case Events

Judges & Courts Bench Assignments Presiding Judges Civil Court Drug Court Family Court Juvenile Court Mental Health Court (Criminal) Probate Court

Sequence of Case Events - Details

Within 24 hours of an arrest, the defendant must be taken before a Magistrate (City Court Judge or Justice of the Peace). This is called an Initial Appearance. The purpose of this hearing is to establish conditions of release, inform defendant of the charges, and appoint counsel if necessary. Depending on the type and severity of the crime, the Magistrate will decide if the defendant should be held in jail, released after posting a cash bond or released on their own recognizance or promise to appear. Sometimes defendants are released to Pretrial Services for pretrial supervision.

After the defendant has had an initial appearance and conditions of release have been established, a hearing or meeting is scheduled to determine if there is sufficient evidence (probable cause) to justify a trial. Probable cause can be determined in two ways, either by Preliminary Hearing or by Indictment by the Grand Jury. Scheduled Preliminary Hearings are often vacated when a Grand Jury indictment is returned before the hearing date.

A Preliminary Hearing or PH is heard by either a Magistrate or a Superior Court Judge sitting as a Magistrate for purposes of the Preliminary Hearing. Evidence is presented as to the probability that a crime was committed and was probably committed by the defendant. If the Magistrate determines probable cause, the defendant is bound over and held to answer the charges in Superior Court and an "Information" or charging document is filed in the Superior Court. If no probable cause is determined, the charges are dismissed and the defendant is released.

The Grand Jury is composed of sixteen people.  Grand Jurors are impaneled for 120 days and meet one to two times a week to hear cases. Facts of the case are presented to the panel by a Deputy County Attorney, police officers and witnesses. After hearing the evidence, they meet in the absence of the officers, attorneys and witnesses and if they decide that there is probable cause, a "True Bill" or Indictment (charging document) is returned. If the Grand Jury determines there is not enough evidence, a "No Bill" is returned. Those cases with "True Bill" will be sent to the Superior Court and assigned a case number and a Judge.

A defendant's first appearance in Superior Court is called an Arraignment. At this hearing a plea of not guilty is entered to all charges contained in the Indictment and a denial as to any allegations that may have been attached. The defendant is notified of the next court appearance date (Case Management Conference), assigned a Judge, and is warned that failure to appear at future hearings could result in a warrant being issued and the proceedings occurring in the defendant's absence. If a defendant has not secured an attorney by this time and cannot afford to hire one, an attorney will be appointed to represent the defendant. Attorney fees may be assessed to offset the cost of defense.

Thirty (30) days after arraignment, a Case Management Conference will be held. At this conference, the Court will explore the possibility of a non-trial disposition. At this time the Court may, in its discretion, participate in settlement negotiations and guilty plea hearings are often scheduled at this time. If the case cannot be resolved without a trial. the Court will set a Pretrial Conference in 30 days and order a Joint Pretrial Statement filed in 26 days.

A Pretrial Conference is held to select a trial date.

In many cases, the Defense Attorney and the Deputy County Attorney will negotiate a Plea Agreement, in which the defendant will plea to all or some of the original charges or to lesser charges agreeable to the parties involved. If no Plea Agreement is reached, the case will proceed to trial. If there is a trial, victims, witnesses, law enforcement officers, and expert witnesses can be subpoenaed (summoned) to testify before the Judge or a jury who will decide the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

If there is a finding of guilt (by plea or trial), the Court will set a time for sentencing, generally, the date will be within four weeks. If there is a reasonable possibility the defendant will receive prison time, the State may request that the Court order the defendant be taken into custody and the Court is required by statute to do so.

The Court will order the preparation of a pre-sentence report by the Adult Probation Department. The report provides information concerning the offense, the defendant's criminal, social, educational, employment, and mental health history. The report will also provide statements from the defendant and victim(s) and an evaluation by the investigating officer.

Either party may request a hearing to present aggravating or mitigating factors before sentencing. Additionally, the defendant, victim and other interested persons may submit letters for the Court's consideration prior to sentencing.

At sentencing, and if eligible, a defendant may be placed on Probation.

James E. Marner (Div. 10)

Presiding Judge

(520) 724-9055

Renee Bennett (Div. 14)


(520) 724-3567

Christopher Browning (Div. 27)


(520) 724-3875

Javier Chon-Lopez (Div. 15)


(520) 724-3620

J. Alan Goodwin (Div. 2)


(520) 724-8169

Richard Gordon (Div. 8)


(520) 724-9889

Scott McDonald (Div. 29)


(520) 724-4764

Casey F. McGinley (Div. 18)


(520) 724-3667

D. Douglas Metcalf (Div. 16)


(520) 724-3708

Howard Fell (Div. SR)

Judge Pro Tem

(520) 724-4250

Renee L. K. Hampson (Div. LF)

Judge Pro Tem

(520) 724-3001

Michelle Metzger (Div. TO)

Hearing Officer

(520) 724-4370