Trials conducted in the El Mirage City Court of Record are in accordance with the due process requirements of the United States Constitution, Arizona Constitution, and Code of Criminal Procedure. Defendants may be represented by an attorney or may act "pro se" which is a Latin term meaning that the defendant represents himself/herself at trial.
Types of Trials
Jurors from the El Mirage community will be summoned to appear for service. The prosecution and defense will have the opportunity to question the potential jurors to learn of any biases or prejudices present which could prevent a fair and impartial trial. All cases tried in the City Court will be heard by a petite jury which consists of six (6) persons. At trial, the jury will decide any issues of fact, such as the guilt or innocence of the defendant, while the judge will decide issues of law and determine an appropriate sentence if the defendant is found guilty.
If a defendant chooses a bench trial, or is not eligible for a jury trial, the Presiding Judge or a Judge Pro Tem will hear and decide the case.
The defendant and prosecutor will each present his or her evidence to the Judge. The Judge then applies the appropriate law, weighs the evidence presented, and renders a verdict of guilty or not guilty. The Judge will also assess the defendant's fine and order the costs and fees to be paid by the defendant when the defendant is found guilty. If the defendant is found not guilty, the case is dismissed and no costs or fines are owed by the defendant.
Jail/Home Detention/Electronic Monitoring
If a defendant is convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to jail, the jail time will usually be served at the Maricopa County Jail. If a defendant wishes to serve jail time at another facility, within or outside of Arizona, the defendant is responsible for arranging with the other agency and bearing any costs of incarceration. A defendant must begin a jail sentence within thirty days of imposition of sentence. If a defendant is working or attending school, they may be eligible to serve their time on a work-release basis, if they meet the jail’s requirements for work-release. The jail will release defendants for a maximum of 12 hours per day, including travel time, for work or school. The Court does not control the jail and cannot override or change jail procedures; defendants are responsible for abiding by all jail policies. For defendants serving 15 days or more in jail, a correctional health packet must be completed prior to reporting to the jail.
For certain offenses for which a defendant is sentenced to jail, part of the jail sentence may be served on Home Detention/Electronic Monitoring (HD/EM). If jail time is imposed, at least part of the jail sentence must be served in the Maricopa County Jail, for which the defendant may be required to pay costs. If a defendant opts for HD/EM, they will be required to pay fees to the HD/EM provider, but these fees are lower than jail costs. The payment of fees and arrangements for HD/EM are the responsibility of the defendant. Failure to pay the fees and abide by the restrictions of the program will result in the defendant being required to serve the remainder of their sentence in jail.
For some offenses, such as Domestic Violence and DUI, counseling is mandatory by statute. For other offenses, such as Minor Consumption of Alcohol and Shoplifting, counseling may be ordered. The Court will order the defendant to contact the assigned counseling agency to arrange to enroll in, pay for, and complete counseling. Failure to enroll in, pay for, or complete counseling can result in a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. Payment for counseling is made directly to the counseling provider, not to the Court, and the Court has no control over the fees charged by the providers. If a defendant wishes to use a provider other than that ordered by the Court, a request must be submitted in writing. Such request might not be granted, in the Court’s discretion, but if granted, the defendant will still be responsible for coordinating such counseling with the Court-assigned counseling agency to ensure that the defendant’s counseling progress is monitored, and completion or non-completion reported to the Court.