What Is a Limited Jurisdiction Court?

judges seat in a orange room - limited jurisdiction courts Arizona

What Is a Limited Jurisdiction Court?

There are three different types of criminal courts in Arizona: limited jurisdiction, general jurisdiction, and appellate jurisdiction. These three courts help to keep things moving and organized in Arizona’s justice system. 

A limited jurisdiction court is the first level of criminal court, and it handles different cases than the other two. In this post, we provide a breakdown of all three types of criminal courts in Arizona, and explain the types of cases that limited jurisdiction courts can handle.

Arizona Has Three Types of Criminal Courts

Level 1: Limited Jurisdiction 

Justice of the peace courts and municipal or city courts have limited jurisdiction. This means that their authority is limited to handling only certain cases, such as misdemeanors and petty offenses. We’ll explain their limitations in more detail below. 

Level 2: General Jurisdiction

The Superior Court of Arizona is the general jurisdiction court. It is a state-wide trial court, and it sees the widest number of different cases. Each county has at least one superior court judge. If you are facing both misdemeanor and felony charges, your case will be heard in Superior Court. 

Level 3: Appellate Jurisdiction

Arizona has two appellate courts: the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Established in 1965, the Court of Appeals hears around 90% of the cases put before it. It is the first level of appeal after the superior court. The Arizona Supreme Court (also known as the “court of last resort”) hears appeals for death row cases. It also handles cases that involve elected officials or disputes between cities and counties. 

Limited Jurisdiction Courts in Arizona Only Hear Certain Cases

Each city and town in Arizona has its own limited jurisdiction court—some have even more than one. And with so many local courts, it might seem like each one would handle all the criminal cases in their area. However, local courts are limited in which cases they can hear. Besides small civil suits, they only hear cases involving misdemeanor crimes and petty offenses.

Examples of Cases a Limited Jurisdiction Court Handles:

  • Search warrants
  • Protective orders
  • Traffic violations
  • DUIs 
  • Hit-and-runs 
  • Reckless driving
  • Domestic violence 
  • Harassment
  • Assault
  • Petty offenses and misdemeanors whose fines are no more than $2,500, or imprisonment longer than 6 months in jail, or involve no serious injuries
  • Preliminary hearings for felonies
  • Civil lawsuits under $10,000
  • Small claims under $3,500

You Need a Lawyer Who Understands the System

Being charged with a crime is often a long and complicated process, and it can be difficult to navigate the court system without the right assistance. Working with a certified criminal lawyer who understands Arizona’s criminal justice system is one way to ensure that you get fair treatment and the best possible outcome for your case. 

Todd Coolidge has over 25 years of experience in all of Arizona’s criminal courts, and he believes in a personal touch. If you have been charged with a crime, don’t take the risk with a court-appointed lawyer. Contact us today to schedule a consultation on your case.





Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (12/31/23). Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash.