The Preliminary Hearing
Preliminary Hearings are infrequently conducted. In such cases, we will accompany you to thoroughly examine the State’s evidence and potentially challenge the probable cause presented in the “Complaint” through an actual hearing. If no “Plea Agreement” is reached or no hearing takes place, we will proceed to have the case transferred from the Regional Court Center to the Downtown Superior Court through a process known as “Straight Waiving.” The subsequent court appearance will be a “Not Guilty Arraignment,” which is always held either at the Central Court Building or East Court Building located at 201 and 101 W. Jefferson in downtown Phoenix.
On occasion, Preliminary Hearings may be “Scratched.” This signifies that the prosecutor was not prepared to proceed on that specific day and retains the ability to refile your case within a span of up to 7 years from the date of the violation. Typically, the case will be refiled within 6 to 9 months, initiating the process anew with an “Initial Appearance.”
Alternatively, Preliminary Hearings may be “Vacated.” This implies that the State has chosen to pursue the matter through a “Grand Jury” to determine the existence of probable cause for issuing an “Indictment” (refer to Indictment). This approach is often employed in more serious felony cases (class 1, 2, 3) to circumvent strong defense challenges to probable cause during a Preliminary Hearing before a judge. Usually, this occurs within a few weeks following the vacation of the court date, although the prosecutor maintains the discretion to take this step within 7 years from the date of the violation. Once an indictment is issued, the legal process recommences with an “Initial Appearance” (see Initial Appearance). If a defendant is in custody, the indictment is typically handed down within 10 days of the case being vacated. During this period, the defendant will remain in custody pending the outcome of the Grand Jury proceedings.
For assistance and guidance regarding Preliminary Hearings, we encourage you to contact our firm. Our team is well-equipped to provide expert advice and support throughout this crucial stage of your legal proceedings. Reach out to us today to discuss your specific situation.