Santa Cruz County Superior Court Defense Attorney

Aggravated DUI Criminal Case Procedure in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court of Arizona

If you have been arrested and charged with aggravated DUI in Amado, Elgin, Nogales, Patagonia, Rio Rico, Sonoita, Tubac, or Tumacacori, then your case will likely be filed in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court. Especially if this is your first charge for DUI, then you might be wondering what is coming as the county prepares its case against you.

The Santa Cruz Superior Court is a trial court. It has jurisdiction over many kinds of criminal cases. Most criminal cases superior courts hear are felonies. In Arizona generally, and Santa Cruz County is no exception, a DUI case heard in Superior Court will generally proceed as follows:

Your Initial Appearance

Your initial appearance happens within 24 hours of being taken into custody by the police. This is the point where the judge will advise you of your right to counsel, and to remain silent.

Although most DUI defendants do not have an attorney at this stage, it is in your best interest to retain one as soon as possible and, if possible, to do this before your initial appearance. This is because the release conditions and how much the bond is going to be set will be determined at this stage.

Setting of Bond

The bond set process is meant to make sure you will appear in court for your hearing. In misdemeanor-level cases, you may not need to stand before a judge, and you may be released sooner. In more severe felony-level cases, however, you will need to stand before a judge.

Status Conference

The status conference is where your attorney will meet with the judge and the prosecutor. This is an opportunity for your attorney to talk with the judge about whether there are any issues with the case before a trial is set. Your attorney might also be able to obtain the police reports connected with your arrest, and to discuss plea deals or dismissal of the charges against you.

Preliminary Hearing Stage

This is the stage where the prosecution must show probable cause exists to believe that you committed the DUI offense of which you are accused. If the prosecutor is unsuccessful at showing probable cause, then the case against you will be dismissed. If the prosecutor is successful, then the case proceeds.

Scratch/Temporary Dismissal of the Case

“Scratching,” or temporarily dismissing the case against you, does not mean that the case has been dismissed entirely. There are many instances where the county prosecution will temporarily dismiss a case when they need more time to prepare it, then they will re-file it a few months after the scratch.

Pre-File Stage

A pre-file investigation takes place when the police suspect that you have committed a crime. The police will try to either prove or dispel their suspicions during this stage.

Grand Jury

A grand jury’s job is to evaluate potential criminal charges that the prosecution would like to file to see if they are supported by enough probable cause to go to trial. In Arizona, grand juries are made up of 9-16 people.


This is when the judge will confirm that you have legal representation, and what action the grand jury has decided to take. The judge will then set the case on the court’s docket.

Trial (If Necessary)

If the case against you goes to a jury trial, this is where your attorney will be able to tell your side of the story to the jury.

Sentencing (If Necessary)

If you are convicted of the charge against you then this is the stage when the Judge imposes any penalties. This stage is preceded by a pre-sentencing hearing, in which the Judge hears evidence about potential sentences.

Types of Felony DUI Cases in Arizona

As we mentioned above, Superior Courts in Arizona typically manage felony-level criminal cases, including DUI cases. What follows are the specific kinds of felony DUI charges that exist under Arizona law.

Class 4 Felony DUI Charges

The types of Aggravated DUI charges that fall under Class 4 are:

  • If you have two or more prior DUIs in the past seven years
  • The DUI happened when your license is suspended or revoked
  • The DUI happened while you were under court order to use an ignition interlock device

A Class 4 felony conviction for Aggravated DUI could result in the following minimum penalties:

  • At least four months in an Arizona state prison
  • $750 in fines, with an 83 percent surcharge
  • Mandatory alcohol and substance abuse counseling

Class 6 Felony DUI Charges:

A Class 6 Aggravated DUI charge is one that involves a child under age 15 in the car with you. A Class 6 felony would result in the following minimum penalties:

  • A minimum prison sentence of four months, with a maximum of three years for a first-time offense
  • Additional prison time for each subsequent offense
  • Required alcohol and substance abuse counseling for at least 12 months
  • Fines and penalties that add up to thousands of dollars

Additional Possible Charges for Aggravated DUI in Arizona

If an accident happens in connection with your DUI arrest, you can also be charged with the following offenses:

  • Endangerment: A charge of endangerment is one of the most common charges imposed against drivers accused of DUI.
  • Aggravated Assault: You may be charged with this if you cause harm to someone else that results in temporary but substantial disfigurement, or temporary but substantial loss or impairment of any body organ or part or cause a fracture of any body part.
  • Vehicular manslaughter: In Arizona, manslaughter is a Class 2 Felony. This would result in harsh penalties, including 7 to 21 years in an Arizona state prison. If a jury finds that no dangerous weapon was involved – that is, your vehicle was not a dangerous weapon under the eyes of the law – then this crime is a Class 2 non-dangerous felony with the following possible penalties:
    • First offense:
      • Probation with up to one year in jail, or
      • A prison sentence from three years up to 12.5 years
    • Subsequent offenses:
      • If you have one prior conviction, then the outcome will be prison and the range is 4.5 years to 23.25 years in prison.
      • If you have two or more prior convictions, then the prison range is 10.5 years to 35 years.
    • If a jury determines that the car is a dangerous weapon:
      • This is a class 2 dangerous felony. It carries a minimum of seven years in prison up to a maximum of 21 years in prison.
    • Vehicular Second-Degree Murder: A conviction for this crime includes a minimum prison term of 7 years, up to maximum of 21 years in prison.
    • Murder: A charge of Second-Degree Murder conviction can result in aprison sentence of 10 to 25 years.

Have You Been Accused of Felony DUI in Santa Cruz County?

Being convicted for a felony DUI in Arizona carries serious and long-lasting consequences. These can go beyond fines, incarceration, and community service; long after these are behind you, with a felony conviction on your record you can also be subject to trouble finding a place to live, problems getting a job, inability to secure credit on good terms, and other significant life problems.

With years of experience dealing with a variety of DUI cases, including aggravated DUI charges against our clients, the expert DUI attorneys at the Rosenstein Law Group know exactly how to investigate the facts of your case and how to negotiate effectively with prosecutors. If we cannot get the case against you dismissed, then there is still a chance we can reduce the penalties you might face.

If you find yourself facing a felony DUI charge, please give us a call at (480) 248-7666 to schedule a free consultation. The time to begin your DUI defense starts as soon as your arrest is over. The Arizona Superior Courts follow case timelines and deadlines that can harm your legal rights if you miss them. Fill out our contact form here online or call our office at (480) 248-7666.

Don’t wait. Call us or contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our Arizona DUI defense attorneys today.


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