7 Facts to Prepare You For a Felony Case at
Maricopa County Superior Court
If You Have Been Charged With A Felony in Arizona, Please Watch This Video To Learn About
“7 Facts to Prepare For a Felony Case at Maricopa County Superior Court” – In Person And Virtually
Thank you for watching this video so you can learn everything you need to know about attending a felony court appearance at the Maricopa County Superior Court.
My name is Zach Divelbiss, a defense lawyer with Future First Criminal Law. Ed Robinson is our other defense lawyer. One of us will be appearing with you in court, and the following is what you need to know as early as possible in your case.
- What is going to happen when you go to court.
- Where the court is located.
- How do you get there.
- What should you wear.
- When and Where should go inside the court building.
- How should you behave while in the courthouse.
- What and who should you bring.
Felony court appearances must be taken seriously. This is one of the highest courts in Arizona. It oversees only felonies. This is not misdemeanor DUIs or speeding tickets, or city court. This is a felony superior court called Maricopa County Superior Court. You will be dealing with elected top level judges. They are appointed to their seat on the bench. They are commissioners. It is the end all be all – the criminal justice court process.
First, in a felony court you are required to appear every single time. Occasionally, there will be a time when the judge might cancel or say nobody needs to appear. So, plan to appear in person for your scheduled court appearance unless we, your lawyers, or the judge tells you otherwise. It is a common misconception people have – “I didn’t think I had to appear for court because it was just going to be a quick five-minute hearing”. Go, unless you are specifically told otherwise by us or the court.
We as your lawyers would love to represent you without you being there, but the judges really do require your attendance 99 times out of 100. Usually they are 5-minute hearings, especially early on in your case, but almost always you are required to appear. The hearings are really meant for the lawyer, the prosecutor, and the judge to have a three-way conversation.
When we’re deeper into a case, we will typically prepare a separate video customized for you explaining exactly what’s in a plea deal, what’s in the police report we have, explaining what it means to go from a fast-track court up to the trial court level. We go through and explain your specific case in a much more custom format.
Preparing for your court dates is important. You will need to prepare in advance. What are you going to wear? Again, this is the top notch of our courts. So, you do need to dress professionally.
The best way to think, both men and women, dress business casual, wedding, or church. One typically wears a long-sleeved button down, slacks, nice shoes, and a belt. We believe that is appropriate. Men typically do not need the tie and jacket, however, you can if you wish. The reason why is because we’re trying to set you apart from everyone else at court.
The prosecutors are running the show, running the charges against you. We want them to look at you and think – this doesn’t match up – this guy is dressed nicely and looks like a good citizen – these charges can’t be right. That’s exactly what we want them to think. If you must wear the same suit/outfit every time, that’s okay! It is not a fashion show, but we do need you to look good.
For the ladies, we want you to be comfortable, but we don’t want you to be so comfortable you’re wearing athletic gear. We all love Lulu, but Lulu does not belong in the courtroom. The general rule of thumb when it comes to ladies – cover as much skin as possible. Shoulders, cleavage, and legs need to be covered. Wear low profile shoes, not high heels. Bring a small purse, not a giant bag full of stuff. Remember you must pass through a metal detector, and an x-ray scan of your bag. We’re trying to impress the prosecutor with how you look and set you apart as someone who’s taking this process seriously.
Everyone should have their hair done, their facial features cleaned. If for whatever reason you don’t have any business casual clothing, here’s the next best thing. First, make sure your clothes are clean. Men, wear your best jeans/pants, wear a belt, clean your shoes, and if possible, wear a collared shirt. Ladies, wear the nicest clothes you have. Our goal is to set you apart when it comes to your court appearances.
Please note, just because you dress nicely doesn’t mean you get out of your case. I will tell you this, we have seen people dress badly. The judges will look down on that and feel you’re not taking this seriously and may not trust that you’re going to be rehabilitated in the future. I’ve seen them give harsher punishments. Please think about your attire ahead of time, so you won’t have difficulties on the day of court.
The next thing to be aware of is travel. You need to think about this because you’re going to downtown Phoenix. These court appearances typically start at 8:30am in the morning, which means you are going to be dealing with traffic. Everyone coming from the west, east and north are all heading to downtown Phoenix. I recommend at 7:30am on the business day before you have court, enter the court address into the map app on your phone. Check the traffic and driving time from your address. This will give you an idea of the traffic during rush hour. It is particularly important you do this.
We need you to understand what is involved in attending court in downtown Phoenix. You have your driving time or bus time; you must find parking and walk to the courthouse; you must get through the security checkpoint – be prepared to go through metal detector; and then find your assigned courtroom. There are numerous steps, and it takes time. You need to plan because it is your responsibility to be at court on time. We as your lawyers can only make so many excuses for our clients not being there. We will show the best places to park and what these courthouses look like from a street view.
Most court appearances start at 8:30am. The judge schedules multiple people at 8:30am. IMPORTANT: 8:30am is when you are required to be there. Understand, this is a mandatory requirement for you.
Lawyers will sometimes be late because we’re at a different court dealing with another case, talking to a prosecutor or in the judge’s community. Your responsibility is to be there at 8:30am. We will be in communication with you ahead of time to tell you the address and the time to be there. We will let you know if we anticipate we will be late or rescheduling. Sometimes we have two clients at the same place or different courtrooms. There are two courthouses right next to each other.
Again, it’s your responsibility to sit there and wait patiently. These buildings are big and air conditioned. Please do not wait outside or in your car. Wait in the court building. Go through security. Please, do not bring any guns, knives, pepper spray, etc. You will have to throw it away or take it back to your car. It is not a good look. Please do not allow this to be the reason you are late.
Usually, you will be informed of the floor number where your court is scheduled. Second floor, third floor, tenth floor. It is okay to wait on that floor. On each floor you will see waiting areas with benches. This is the appropriate place for you to wait for your lawyer to get there. We will be able to recognize you from your ID photo. Please visit our website bio page so know what we look like. We will be there at the appropriate time for us to be there.
Your responsibility is to be there in a place where we can find you. We have multiple cases we deal with daily. We are not able to text or call the morning of your court date, so please be waiting near your assigned courtroom. Court can be very stressful for you and for us. Please help us make this as easy as possible for everyone.
You can wait in the courtroom. Sometimes it is beneficial because you can sit there and hear what other people are saying. What other lawyers say and what other cases are like. But be mindful, do not make us look for you. Be where you are supposed to be. Also, when you get to your floor, and notice a line of people – they are checking in. This is most common in Southport Tower on the second and third floor. There is a desk right in the middle of four different courtrooms. Check-in without your lawyers, tell them your name, date of birth; they check you in and mark you as present.
This is important because the courts can go all morning and even into the afternoon. If the judge thinks you didn’t check-in, that’s not a good look for you. If you have a court appearance on the fourth through fiftieth floor, there’s no check-in for you. Just wait outside of the courtroom. You’re allowed to be on your phone in the hall, however, in the courtroom the golden rule is – do not be on your phone. Even if the judge is not there, the bailiff and clerks are taking note of people who are not paying attention, people who are falling asleep, people who are on their phones, and they will tell the judge. It happens.
Your responsibility in the courtroom, whether the judge is there or not, is to be professional, sit there quietly and just face the front. Another rule, whenever the judge enters the courtroom, stand and then the judge will tell everyone to be seated.
When you come to court, please bring all your court paperwork. If you have police reports, fingerprints you’ve completed, counseling you’ve done, letters of support, any evidence you have sent us before, please bring it. We will also be bringing what we have, but it’s always best if you bring an extra copy.
Should you bring your family? The general rule of thumb is NO. They are allowed in the building, it’s a public place. As our client, we’re there to help you in the most fast, efficient way possible to get you the best result possible. Typically, this does not mean accommodating members of your family. If you need to have someone with you, bring a supportive family member or friend. Bringing multiple people tends to be a distraction.
IMPORTANT – do NOT bring anyone under the age of eighteen. They are allowed in the building, but they will not be allowed in the courtroom. You cannot leave them in the hallway while you’re in the courtroom. You must get childcare, and plan for the whole day. Courtrooms are sometimes very crowded and can take hours before your case gets called. We could wait 20 minutes, or 2-4 hours. Occasionally, the judge will cancel and reschedule court appearances without telling anyone in advance. Rarely, we have a last-minute change, but we will text you if necessary. It’s very important for you to have your phone and check for our text messages.
In summary, know the address, know the time, put it on your calendar, plan to have childcare for the entire day. Plan on traffic. Plan on parking for more than an hour. Plan for the unknown.
IMPORTANT – It is okay if you are in the courtroom waiting without us. However, please do not speak to the judge without us! This is never okay. If the judge calls on you, tell him/her – Judge, I’m waiting for my lawyer. Again, we as lawyers have never missed a court appearance. We will always be there. The judges are aware that other judges schedule everyone at 8:30am.
The judges are okay with the lawyers going to different courtrooms or different court houses at the same time, knowing sometimes we have higher priority events first. Our paralegals will contact the judge’s assistance days before to let them know that we as the attorneys will be late. We will let you know as well. Of course, we want to be there exactly on time and early, but there are situations when lawyers are required to be in other places. Again, it’s very important – please do not talk to judges without your lawyer. We will be there.
Phoenix Court locations for felony cases. Two separate locations connected by a bridge.
South Court Tower – 101 West Madison. Click here for map: https://goo.gl/maps/mutZy8TgEKCmf1Ww6
Note: Your paperwork will say 175 West Madison. This is the same place. Maricopa County Superior Court is called South Court Tower.
Central Court Building – 201 West Jefferson. Click here for map: https://goo.gl/maps/KAfA3pcQE9aHmfzr5
Be aware there is minimal parking near these two courthouses. There are two parking garages nearby. You drive in, push the button, it gives you a ticket for your dash, and you pay when you leave.
There is free public parking available, but it will take you an extra 15+ minutes to walk. It does not have a specific address, but it is west of the courthouse. The entrance is on West Madison Street between 5th and 7th Avenue. There is a black fence around the parking lot. There is a sign that says 2-hour limit; you can park there all day, but do not leave your vehicle overnight. They do lock the gates after hours and it will be towed.
There is also an abundance of metered parking spots. Yes, you can use them, you can pay with quarters, you can pay with a credit/debit card. However, you are not allowed to pay for only one hour. This is our law firm’s rule. We don’t want you to pay for an hour thinking you will be done and then want to leave to feed the meter. This is not in your best interest. If you are not in the court room when you are called, the judge will get upset.
It is better to get the $100 parking ticket than upsetting your judge. Please just don’t even make this mistake. Park in one of the parking garages or the free parking lot as mentioned previously, or if you brought someone with you, they would need to feed the meter. Plan for at least 4 hours for each court appearance at the felony level.
In summary: If you are getting a ride, make certain they drop you off early. Plan for extra time if you park far away. Plan for traffic. Plan for extra time in case there’s a long line to get in through security. Plan for extra time if there’s a long line to check-in at the courtroom. Please know where to go. Please double check your text messages for anything that we require you to do such as court appearances or nine times out of a hundred you do have to appear. Please plan for the unknown. This is serious and you NEED to be there on time.
There’s another video that we go over virtual court appearances with, but I will review briefly here. Virtual court appearances are a privilege, meaning the judge can take them away and force you to come in person. If the judge does allow you to appear virtually, usually the first or second court appearance in your case.
The judge will require you to have a cell phone or a computer, both the audio and the visual must work because the judge must be able to hear you and see you. Telephone audio alone is not allowed. The judge must visibly see you. You must have a good, stable internet connection and you must be in a quiet place. Do not have other people around. Do not sit in a public place.
Find a quiet room or even a parked car where you can be alone. You cannot be a passenger in a moving vehicle. When you sign in, please enter your full legal name. If you are using someone else’s phone or computer, please ensure your name appears and not theirs. When you log in, it will automatically unmute your audio and turn on your camera. Be aware at the onset, you will need to mute your audio. You do not want others to hear anything in your background.
Multiple people join virtually, if the judge allows it, so there may be a lot of communication. The judge will mute everyone. Eventually, the judge or the assistant will call your name. We as the lawyers will also be present virtually or sometimes in person. We will then unmute, and you will turn on your video and then the court appearance will proceed. As in person, you will say your name and date of birth. Then you will leave yourself unmuted for the duration in case we need to ask you anything.
Reminder – do NOT speak to the judge if we, your lawyers, are not present during this virtual call. Politely tell the judge you need to wait for your lawyer. Also, don’t try to do this on your lunch break as we cannot predict when you will be called. As with in person, it may be quick – it may not. Plan for the unknown. The virtual court appearance will finish, at which point we will inform you to disconnect.
We at the firm will sometimes give you a call or text afterwards to debrief what happened just as we normally would in person. If you get the privilege to do that, please follow this direction correctly because if you don’t, the judge, again, could become upset and make you appear in person. We want to avoid upsetting the judge.
Please let us know if you have any questions about anything we went over. I know this is an abundance of information, but the more you have now about what’s going to happen when you appear at court, the better. This covered the basics. For every single one of our criminal cases, when we get deeper into your case, we will create a custom video where we explain your case regarding the police report, plea deals, etc.
If you want to accept a plea deal, we will explain what the judge will say and what you need to say. Know you do not need to stress this aspect of your case. We’ve handled thousands of cases, we go to court every single day, everything will go smoothly if you follow the instructions laid out in this video. If you require special accommodation or something that I did not mention here, please feel free to let us know ahead of time.
Thank you. Have a great day.
“We Help Keep Good People Out Of Jail!”
Watch all our videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@FutureFirstCriminalLaw