Differences between General Jurisdiction and Limited Jurisdiction

Find out why the Tempe Criminal Court, for which you have been haled, can reveal a lot about the nature and seriousness of your Tempe DUI or Criminal Charges.
If you were arrested or charged with a crime or DUI in Tempe Arizona, you will most likely need to appear in a Tempe Criminal Court. When choosing a DUI or Criminal Lawyer, be sure to retain a Good Tempe DUI or Criminal Attorney who defends clients regularly in the court for which you have been instructed to appear. During your consultation with the Tempe DUI or criminal attorney, they will almost always ask you what court you are required to appear. They will ask you this for one or more of the following reasons:

1. To confirm that you need representation in a court for which they regularly defend DUI or criminal charges;
2. To confirm they are licensed and qualify to defend you in that court;
3. To get an idea of the nature, and seriousness of your charges;
4. To access if you were charged with a Tempe felony or misdemeanor;
5. To determine if the court you are required to appear is a “Limited Jurisdiction or “General Jurisdiction” court.

Tempe Criminal Courts

“General Jurisdiction” verses “Limited Jurisdiction” Courts in Tempe AZ: Their Differences and why it Matters

Tempe Municipal Court ∙ Tempe Justice Court ∙ Tempe Superior Court

The main difference between Municipal, Justice and Superior Courts involves the types of cases that can be heard in them. Arizona courts have been granted authority by Arizona Constitution to handle certain types of cases. For example, some of the lower courts are limited in what types of criminal cases they have authority to hear. This difference is described as “Limited Jurisdiction” verses “General Jurisdiction” as it relates to Arizona Criminal Courts:

A) Municipal or City Courts are Limited Jurisdiction Courts. This is considered a lower court. The City courts have limited jurisdiction and have authority to hear only limited types of criminal cases. The majority of the cases heard in Tempe City Court are Misdemeanor charges. Under certain circumstances, preliminary hearings for felonies can be heard in Tempe City Court.

B) Justice Courts are Limited Jurisdiction Courts. Similar to City Courts, the Justice Courts have limited jurisdiction over what types of cases can be tried or heard in them. The Justice courts in Arizona, usually hear Tempe Misdemeanor cases. However, some preliminary hearings for felonies can be heard in Tempe Justice Court.

C) Superior Courts are General Jurisdiction Courts. Arizona Superior Courts are considered state wide trial courts. They have authority to hear wide variety of criminal cases. The types of criminal cases tried in this court, however, are primarily Felony cases. Although the Arizona Superior Court is a single entity, it has multiple locations in each county within the state of Arizona. And each county, in Arizona, including Maricopa County, has at least one Superior Court Judge.

Types of Criminal & DUI Cases heard in Arizona Municipal/City Courts, and Arizona Justice Courts

1. Tempe Municipal & City Courts: Municipal courts & City Courts, in Arizona hear the following types of criminal cases:
• Misdemeanors;
• Misdemeanor DUI (Driving under the influence of alcohol); without an auto accident with injuries involved;
• Misdemeanor hit-and-run; without injuries;
• Misdemeanor reckless driving without injuries;
• Petty offenses; committed within that city, (Tempe AZ).
• Municipal or City courts also share jurisdiction with justice courts over certain types of violations relating to Arizona law, if the crime was committed in that city (Tempe AZ).
2. Justice Courts – AZ Justice Courts hear the following types of criminal cases:
• Misdemeanors;
• Some felony preliminary hearings; and
• Misdemeanors criminal offenses punishable by a fine of less than $2,500 or less than six months in county jail.

3. Superior Courts – The Arizona Constitution provides the Arizona Superior Court jurisdiction over the following types of criminal cases:
• Superior Courts in Arizona have exclusive jurisdiction over Felony cases;
• Superior Courts share jurisdiction with Justice Courts over misdemeanors when the potential penalty does not exceed $2,500 or imprisonment for six months;
• If no other court has jurisdiction or authority to handle a particular case, Superior Courts may have jurisdiction over that case.
You should always consult a criminal defense attorney or DUI lawyer who defends charges in the court jurisdiction you are required to appear. Your freedom and future may be great risk. Your chances of getting your DUI or criminal charges dismissed or any other good outcome in your case increase by retaining a good Tempe DUI or Tempe criminal defense attorney.


If you face active Arizona criminal or DUI charges, or an outstanding warrant for arrest in Arizona or have been arrested in Maricopa County for AZ DUI, DWI, Drunk Driving or any other criminal charges contact the Law Office of James Novak, for your Free Consultation at (480) 413-1499. Speak directly with experienced Arizona criminal Defense and DUI & Criminal defense Attorney, James Novak (Former Prosecutor).

The Law Office of James Novak is devoted 100% to defending DUI, Drug & criminal charges in valley wide within Maricopa County including Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert Arizona, East Valley, AZ and surrounding cities within the Phoenix metro and Maricopa County Areas.

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