The purpose of this court is to fast track cases that the charging Deputy County Attorney deems appropriate. This court is in place to decrease the time cases spend in the criminal justice system and allow for a quicker resolution for all parties. There a number of different factors the attorney takes into consideration such as the defendant’s prior offenses, the offense itself, the defendant’s willingness.
If the attorney determines a case is appropriate for EDC he/she will notice the court of the determination. A summons will be sent to the defendant (if the defendant is out of custody). The court will set the case on the EDC calendar for arraignment.
The arraignment hearing is handled a little different than regular Superior Court. At the time of arraignment, the defense attorney will have met with the prosecutor and been informed of what is being offered (plea agreement). In turn, the defense attorney will speak with the defendant and advise of such. At this time the defendant is advised of his/her options.
The defendant could either accept the plea agreement that is being offered. If the defendant accepts the plea they also have to accept the terms. If the defendant wants to proceed with the plea agreement they have to waive their right to a preliminary hearing and/or grand jury presentment where probable cause has to be found.
If the defendant is not willing to accept the plea agreement it is the state’s decision on how to proceed. The state will offer the defendant the choice to waive their right to a preliminary hearing and move forward without accepting the plea. This is known as a straight waive. At that time the defendant is arraigned and the case is removed from EDC and assigned to a judge the case moves along in normal fashion.
If the defendant is not willing to sign a straight waive the state can either submit the case to the grand jury or preliminary hearing for a formal indictment. This will remove the case from EDC.
If the defendant does agree with the offer and signs the plea agreement the court will allow the defendant to enter the plea agreement and could sentence the defendant then, but usually sets the case for a sentencing hearing a couple of weeks out.
*Please note this is the typical flow for standard cases in Pinal County Superior Court. However, Pinal County is consistently implementing new and innovative approaches aligned with evidence-based practices that are aimed at restoring victims, encouraging positive behavioral changes with defendants, reducing recidivism and creating safer communities.