Understanding Criminal Indictment in Arizona Law: Stages, Charges, Arrest, and More.

Feature Article

Have you ever wondered what happens once a criminal indictment is filed in Arizona? There are several stages in Arizona criminal cases that you should familiarize yourself with if you ever find yourself in a legal bind. This feature article will give a quick breakdown of the nine stages in a criminal case in Arizona, the meaning of criminal indictments, grand jury proceedings, and a few other important details worth noting.

What is a Criminal Indictment?

A criminal indictment is a formal accusation that someone committed a crime. This document is usually brought forth by a grand jury. It's important to note that not all criminal cases in Arizona result in an indictment. Often, a criminal complaint filed by the prosecutor is enough to go to trial. However, in certain serious felony cases, the prosecutor will present evidence and allegations to the grand jury. If the grand jury finds there is probable cause, they can then vote for an indictment.

The Nine Stages of a Criminal Case

Learning about the nine stages of a criminal case in Arizona can help you better understand the process if you're involved in one. These steps happen in a specific order, with the first eight happening before trial and the ninth occurring during the trial.

1. Arrest

The first stage in a criminal case is usually an arrest. In Arizona, this means that the police have placed you under temporary custody without an arrest warrant. An officer can arrest you if they have probable cause that you committed a crime, or if a misdemeanor or felony was committed in their presence.

2. Initial Appearance

In Arizona, you must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest for an initial appearance. During this stage, the judge will inform you of the crimes you are being charged with, your rights, and conditions for release.

3. Preliminary Hearing

If a suspect is not released after the initial appearance, the next stage involves a preliminary hearing. This is the court's chance to review evidence presented by the prosecutor and decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.

4. Arraignment

During this stage, the court formally charges you and asks if you plead guilty or not guilty. A judge will set the conditions for your release, including bail if applicable.

5. Discovery

This stage involves exchanging evidence, including witness statements, police reports, and any other relevant information that may impact the trial.

6. Negotiation and Plea Bargaining

During this stage, the prosecutor and defense attorney may negotiate to settle the case before trial or enter into a plea bargain agreement.

7. Pre-Trial Motions

Various pre-trial motions are filed to address specific issues before the trial, such as objections to evidence or requesting a change in venue.

8. Trial

At this stage, the prosecutor presents evidence and calls witnesses, and the defense team presents their case. A judge or jury decides the outcome of the case based on the evidence.

9. Sentencing

If the defendant is found guilty, the sentencing stage involves the punishment and penalties for the crime.

Grand Jury Proceedings

The grand jury is a crucial aspect of the legal system in Arizona. When a prosecutor finds probable cause to believe that someone has committed a serious crime, they want an indictment. The grand jury consists of up to 16 citizens who hear evidence and witness testimony to decide if an indictment is warranted. If the grand jury issues an indictment, the case will move to trial.

Should You Hire a Defense Attorney For a Criminal Indictment?

If you are facing a criminal indictment, it's essential to have a qualified defense attorney on your side. A criminal indictment can be an overwhelming and daunting process, but an experienced attorney can provide the guidance and support you need. A skilled defense lawyer can assist you in negotiating a plea agreement or represent you in court if your case goes to trial.


If you are facing a criminal indictment in Arizona, it's essential to understand the stages of the process and your legal rights. With an experienced defense attorney by your side, you can ensure that your rights are protected and you receive a fair trial.

If you want to know more about how criminal indictment works in Arizona, please visit Criminal Indictment-Arizona.