With a DUI case in Arizona, the court where your case ends up can be just as confusing as the actual case itself. Due to the differences in charges, locations, and police agencies, your Arizona DUI case can be filed in any one of three different courts and locations: either in Superior Court, in a Justice Court, or in a Municipal Court (also commonly referred to as City Courts). These differences depend largely on the type of DUI case filed, where your Arizona DUI arrest took place, and finally which agency was responsible for the arrest.
The first, and most important distinction is whether your Arizona DUI case is a misdemeanor DUI or a felony DUI. If your case is filed as a felony DUI (which typically happens for a DUI on a suspended license, a 3rd time DUI, or a DUI with kids under 15 in the vehicle), then your case will be in Superior Court. Felony cases are only heard in Superior Court. The only way your case can be heard in a different court is if the state decides not to pursue the felony part of the DUI.
A City Court or Justice Court has no jurisdiction over a felony case. Similarly, a case that is initially cited into a Justice Court or Municipal Court can be dismissed and re-filed in Superior Court if the state later becomes aware of a felony element to the case prior to it resolving.
The next distinction is to determine where your Arizona DUI arrest took place. If you were arrested and cited for DUI outside of the city limits, your case will be sent to the Justice Court that is responsible for that area. This is common in arrests that take place on an Indian Reservation or in unincorporated parts of the county. However, if you were arrested within the city limits, your case may be assigned to either a Justice Court or Municipal Court. The distinction between the two different courts depends on which police agency made the arrest.
For example, if you are arrested and cited for an Arizona DUI within the city limits of Scottsdale, and arrested and cited by a City of Scottsdale police officer, your case will be in Scottsdale Municipal Court. However, if you are within the city limits of Scottsdale, but arrested by a different agency, commonly Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, your case will be in the Justice Court that is responsible for that area.
As with everything else in the confusing Arizona DUI process, the actual location of your case may also be just as confusing.