Criminal Offenses

If you have been cited for a criminal misdemeanor offense, you must appear at the Surprise City Court on the designated court date and time. At a criminal arraignment, you are advised of the charges pending against you. If you plead guilty or are found guilty, all fines assessed are due on the same day (please refer to the Fines & Restitution page for more information).

If you choose to plead not guilty, the Court will set a pretrial conference where you will have the opportunity to talk with a City Prosecutor to discuss possible plea negotiations. Be aware that the City Prosecutor is not your attorney and he/she is prohibited from providing you legal advice on how your case should be handled.

An arraignment is a court appearance in which you are formally notified of the charges that have been filed against you. There are basically three options:
  1. Plead guilty or no contest to the judge. The judge may pronounce the sentence at that time or schedule sentencing for another day.
  2. Plead not guilty and get a new court date for a pretrial conference.
  3. You may enter into a diversion agreement, if eligible. Diversion means that the State will agree to suspend prosecution for a set period of time and the charge(s) may be dismissed if the diversion requirements are successfully met.

Criminal Appeals

An appeal is a request to a higher court to review the decision of a lower court.  On appeal, no new evidence is introduced. The higher court is limited to considering whether the lower court erred on a question of law or gave a decision plainly contrary to the evidence presented during trial.

How do I file an appeal?

If you decide to appeal a decision made against you for a criminal violation, or a citation with both criminal and civil traffic violations, you must file a NOTICE OF APPEAL with the Surprise City Court within 14 calendar days from date of judgment.  If you fail to file an appeal before this time period expires, you will lose your right to appeal.

What costs are involved?

There is a $34 fee for the Superior Court record, and $51 administrative fee for the Surprise City Court. Total due is $85. This fee covers the cost of making a CD of the proceedings and must be paid the same day that the notice of appeal is filed. If more than one CD is required (if the hearing is longer than 60 minutes), you will be required to obtain the services of a court reporter to prepare a written transcript. You will be charged for the preparation of the transcript. In the event that you must hire a court reporter, you may set up a payment arrangement with the court reporter directly.

An appeal bond may not be required to stay the conviction and sentence on a criminal case. This means that during the appeal process, the conviction and sentence that was entered against you is placed on hold until the Superior Court makes a decision on the case.

Can I have an attorney represent me for my appeal?

You may have an attorney represent you during the appeal process.  You may also proceed pro-per (acting as your own attorney).

Will the Court appoint me an attorney?

The Court may appoint an attorney for certain criminal appeals.  You must first be deemed indigent.  To attain this status, you must submit a written request for a public defender and provide a sworn financial statement for the Surprise City Court to rule on.

What if I cannot afford the costs of an appeal?
If you cannot afford the costs associated with the appeal process, you may ask the Court to consider you indigent. In order to attain this status, you must provide a sworn financial statement for the Surprise City Court to rule on.

What is a memorandum and when does it need to be filed?

Upon receipt of your notice of appeal and your written memorandum, the Surprise City Court will forward a complete copy of your case to you and the state.

A memorandum is a written statement that you send to the Surprise City Court setting forth the legal issues and legal reasons why you are appealing the judgment of the Surprise City Court.

Once the Surprise City Court has received both the appellate memorandum (from the party filing the appeal) and appellee memorandum (from the opposing party), the case will be forwarded to the Maricopa County Superior Court.  Failure to pay any costs or fees, or to respond to any notices from the City Court or Superior Court may result in your appeal being dismissed. You should read and respond to all notices received from either court.