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Criminal Justice System & Resources
The criminal justice system can be a confusing place to navigate, but we’ve made a helpful flow chart to give you a better understanding of where you or a loved one is at in the legal process. Please also see our brochures in English and Spanish for additional information.
Here are some frequently asked questions as well as jail and outside resources:
- What do I need to remember about court hearings?
- What is an initial appearance?
- What happens at a preliminary hearing?
- Does a preliminary hearing still occur if I received an indictment?
- What occurs at an arraignment?
- What do I need to know about plea agreements?
- How many different kinds of pretrial hearings are there?
- I'm not sure I understand the purpose of the trial after all these hearings. What happens at a trial?
- How does sentencing occur, and when?
- Can I appeal a decision on my case?
While in custody, there are a variety of programs available for persons who are incarcerated. These include assistance with alcohol and substance abuse recovery, anger management classes, English language classes, GED classes, Girl Scouts Beyond Bars for incarcerated mothers who have daughters, parenting classes, and service-oriented activities for the surrounding community. See this document for more information.
Additionally, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office offers the MOSAIC program to qualified persons who are in their custody. MOSAIC is an intensive seven-week nationally-recognized substance abuse treatment program that teaches participants to deal with past trauma and gives them skills to replace the substance. The MOSAIC program offers possible early release and helps participants acquire new skills before entering back into life outside custody.
Also, see this document for information helpful to families, including property/money releases, how to place money on the books of an inmate, medication questions, intake/release procedures, clergy needs, car impounds, posting bonds & fines, video visitation, and inmate mail. El documento también está disponible en Español .
If you are interested in representing yourself, see this resource published by the Superior Court Law Library.
If you believe you or a family member has been wrongfully convicted or imprisoned, you can reach out to the Arizona Justice Project or the Innocence Project for help.
For help while incarcerated, you can reach out to Middle Ground Prison Reform. Their mission is “To protect and define the rights, responsibilities and privileges of the incarcerated.”
The ACLU has many resources on knowing your rights in a variety of situations:
- What To Do When Encountering Law Enforcement—Questioning
- Searches and Warrants—What To Do
- Stops and Arrests—What To Do
- Freedom of Religion in Prison
- What To Do When Encountering Law Enforcement at Airports and Other Ports of Entry into the U.S.
- What To Do if Immigration Agents (ICE) Are at Your Door
- What To Do if You Are Faced with Assault and Excessive Force in Prison