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Posted on November 11, 2021 in Criminal Defense

What is a Disposition Hearing in Criminal Court in Phoenix, Arizona?

Are you wondering what a disposition hearing in criminal court is? In Phoenix, the term disposition hearing can refer to three different types of hearings, depending on the context in which it is used.

The three main types of disposition hearings are:

  • Juvenile Disposition Hearing
  • Early Disposition Court
  • Adult Criminal Court Disposition Hearing

Each type of disposition hearing is different, but they all come near the end of a criminal case. If you have a disposition hearing coming up, you should hire an experienced defense lawyer to represent you at the hearing.

What is a Juvenile Disposition Hearing in Phoenix, Arizona?

A juvenile disposition hearing is a sentencing hearing at the very end of the case. A disposition hearing takes place after a youth offender is adjudicated delinquent (convicted of illegal conduct) or after a guilty plea.

At the disposition hearing, a delinquent juvenile can be sentenced to:

  • Probation
  • Juvenile Detention Facility
  • The care of their parents, supervised by the probation department

After a court adjudicates a juvenile delinquent, it schedules the disposition hearing. Prior to the disposition hearing, a probation officer will prepare a “Predisposition Report.” This is similar to a pre-sentencing report in the adult system.

The probation officer will interview the juvenile as part of the predisposition report and gather relevant information about the juvenile’s background as well as the impact of the conduct on the victim. The predisposition report will be used by the judge as they consider the appropriate sentence.

A lawyer should assist you as you prepare for a predisposition report and at the disposition hearing. Your lawyer will present favorable evidence and mitigating circumstances to persuade the judge and prosecutor to impose a lenient sentence.

What is Early Disposition Court?

Early Disposition Court (EDC) in Phoenix used to be known as Expedited Drug Court. Early Disposition Court is a tool used to reduce the backlog of criminal cases in Maricopa County. It handles victimless drug possession and drug paraphernalia cases.

Early Disposition Court puts an emphasis on treatment and rehabilitation, and it tries to put offenders into these programs as quickly as possible. If an offender completes treatment, the case is dismissed.

Early Disposition Court can work in a defendant’s favor in certain situations. You should work with a defense lawyer to decide if it is right for you.

You will be notified if you are eligible for EDC at your initial appearance. If you opt in, you will be expected to enter a guilty plea at the EDC hearing and enter treatment. If you decide not to take the EDC offer, your case proceeds as a normal criminal case.

If you have a case in Early Disposition Court, you should still work with a defense lawyer and take all the necessary steps to protect your rights and reach a favorable outcome.

What is an Adult Criminal Court Disposition Hearing?

A disposition hearing in the adult criminal court system has a looser definition than the previous two types of disposition hearings. In the criminal system, a disposition hearing usually means entering a guilty plea or requesting a case be set for trial.

The word disposition is a synonym for “outcome.” At a disposition hearing, everyone finds out if the case is being resolved pretrial or if it is proceeding to a jury trial.

Disposition hearings don’t always mean you have to enter a plea. If you and your lawyer decide you aren’t ready, you can often request one more hearing date before resolving or setting for trial. If the case is older, you may not be able to request more hearings, but usually the judge will allow it a few times for newer cases.

If you have any kind of disposition hearing, you need experienced legal counsel. Otherwise, you risk a bad outcome in your case. Contact a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer for help with your case.

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