Yavapai County’s “early disposition court” (EDC) has been overhauled. New rules, new times for hearings, new ideas. The concept remains the same: substantively address felony cases at the preliminary hearing stage and try to resolve certain cases without expending unnecessary resources. The risks associated with this concept include not treating defendants fairly, putting undue pressure on defendants to accept a plea, limiting the time for the defense to investigate, develop strategy, and possibly crack a case wide open. Once you take a plea deal in early disposition court, you can’t retract it, except under very rare circumstances.
The new EDC rules allow for the defense to spend more time reviewing the police reports and developing a defense strategy while still in early disposition court (preliminary hearing stage). The old rules would limit a defendant’s ability to accomplish much work while still in the preliminary hearing stage. As a result, defendants used to waive preliminary hearings and proceed to the Yavapai County Superior Court more quickly. Now, however, cases are more likely to be resolved while in the early disposition court, without a defendant having to step foot into a Yavapai County Superior Court courtroom. The new rules also affect whether a defendant appears at the 8:00AM docket or the 1:00PM docket.
There are numerous options still available at an early disposition court proceeding: waive a preliminary hearing, continue the early disposition court to a new date, request a preliminary hearing (which is likely to trigger a grand jury indictment proceeding), take a plea, make a counter offer, and potentially more. All of these options should be discussed with a qualified criminal defense attorney. You are also entitled to receive the initial disclosure (police reports, etc.) at the early disposition court stage. The dangers of early disposition court are high: felony convictions, prison, probation, probation violations, parole violations, and more. Don’t fall for the trap of feeling pressured to take a plea deal. Make sure you are certain, with the assistance of legal counsel, that any plea agreement you accept is an appropriate resolution to your case.
At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we are honored to represent defendants in the early disposition court on a regular basis. We know the new rules. We know the new risks. We can protect your rights.