What is an Arraignment?

by Aaron Black • January 31, 2012
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor in Phoenix or any city in Arizona, on the bottom of the Traffic Ticket and Complaint, you will see a court date. This is your first court date. It is the Arraignment. Under Arizona law a defendant is entitled to a speedy trial.

Misdemeanors in Arizona

Class 1 misdemeanor crime
  • A class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious misdemeanor offense.
  • Punishable by up to 6 months in jail, 3 years of probation (5 years maximum probation for DUI offenses)
  • $2,500 fine plus surcharges
Some of the most common class 1 misdemeanor offenses include DUI, driving on a suspended license, assault, disorderly conduct, criminal damage, shoplifting and theft.

Class 2 misdemeanor crime
  • Maximum punishment of 4 months in jail
  • $750 fine plus surcharges
  • 2 years of probation
Some of the most common class 2 misdemeanor offenses are reckless driving, assault, criminal trespassing in the second degree and criminal damage.

Class 3 misdemeanor crime

A class 3 misdemeanor is the lowest criminal offense, but still can carry severe punishments.
  • Maximum of 30 days in jail
  • 1 year of probation
  • $500 fine plus surcharges
The most common class 3 misdemeanor offenses in Arizona are a form of assault, criminal trespass in the third degree and criminal speeding.

Arraignment proceedings

At the Arraignment you will be advised of your formal charges. The court will also determine if you are entitled to a public defender. Public defenders are appointed if you are indigent and the prosecution is seeking jail time.

Anymore, Arraignments are a formality and very little happens. In fact, if you hire an attorney prior to the Arraignment date, your attorney will most likely file a Notice of Appearance, enter a Not Guilty Plea, and waive your appearance. Your case will then be set for a pre-trial conference (PTC) in Phoenix.

Pre-Trial conference

At the Initial Pre-Trial Conference, the trial date is typically set. The IPTC is usually when the prosecutor makes the first plea offer. At this hearing, the judge will check on the status of negotiations, investigations, and witness interviews.

At the IPTC the defendant will do very little talking, and he/she will only say his/her name. The lawyer will do the rest. The IPTC is typically a very short hearing in the morning with about twenty other individuals who are all set for the same kind of hearing at the same time.

In municipal and justice courts a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) is prearranged after the arraignment. These hearing are less formal than the Initial Pre-Trial Conference in Superior Court. At the Pre-Trial Conference, a plea offer is usually made. At the PTC it is rare for the defendant to appear before the judge unless a plea offer is entered into.

I have been charged with a felony

If you have been charged with a felony your Arraignment cannot be waived. If you hire private counsel your attorney will appear at the Arraignment hearing with you where the Judge will read the formal charges.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Arizona contact Criminal Defense Attorney Aaron Black in Phoenix for a free consultation at 480-729-1683.