Arrowhead Justice Court Precinct


Minors can be cited for criminal actions – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

June 9th, 2017 – I’ve written a couple of articles regarding individuals who are under the age of 18 being cited for criminal charges. Since summer is here and school is out of session, I thought this would be a good time to revisit the matter.

Just like adults, minors can be cited for violations of criminal statutes. Some of the more common offenses cited into Limited Jurisdiction Courts, which includes the Arrowhead Justice Court, include: possession and consumption of alcohol; curfew ordinances; possession of tobacco products, or vaping devices; criminal speeding; reckless driving; aggressive driving and racing/exhibition of speed.

When the citation arrives in the Arrowhead Justice Court, it is forwarded to Juvenile Court in order to determine if the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is willing to divert the case from prosecution. If it does, the minor-age defendant and a parent or guardian will be required to make their appearance, on the date and at the time noted on the citation, in the Arrowhead Justice Court for what is termed a Juvenile Advisory Hearing…..  Read the rest on

Serious consequences for failure to appear – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

March 3rd, 2017 – Every Tuesday afternoon in the Arrowhead Justice Court, I conduct Civil Traffic and Criminal Arraignment Hearings, the purpose of which is for the judge to read the charges to defendants and for them to enter pleas.

In most instances, defendants are notified of the date and time to appear by way of the Arizona Traffic Ticket and Complaint. This document, which they sign for and are given a copy of by the citing law enforcement officer, also sets forth the charge(s) and advises them their failure to appear may result in the imposition of a monetary penalty, suspension of driver’s license, or driving privilege and, in the case of a criminal charge, the issuance of a warrant for arrest. It also discloses to them failure to appear on a criminal charge will result in the court generating its own criminal complaint, citing a defendant for a violation of Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2506(A)(2), Failure to Appear by Promise, a Class 2 Misdemeanor.

With all of this information made available to defendants, it continues to surprise me that people either forget about their court date….  Read the rest on

Make winter break for students a pleasant experience – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

December 9th, 2016 – I’m not in the habit of writing advice columns concerning matters involving the courts, but that is exactly what I am doing in this instance.

I serve as the Justice of the Peace and Juvenile Hearing Officer for the Arrowhead Justice Court, the boundaries of which include much of the City of Peoria, all of Sun City and a portion of northern Glendale. It also includes the Loop 101 Freeway from 51st to Northern avenues.

Very soon, high school classes in these areas will adjourn for winter break, meaning the students will be out of session for one to two weeks. That being the case, with the extra free time on their hands, there is an increased possibility that some of them may run afoul of the law and be cited for criminal offenses. Some of the more common examples include: criminal speeding, whether on the highway or in a neighborhood; aggressive driving; reckless driving; underage possession and consumption of liquor; underage possession of a tobacco product or vaping device; refusing orders to leave city parks after they closed for the night; and violating curfew ordinances. These charges range from petty offenses to Class 1 misdemeanors….  Read the rest on

Justice Court has authority to dismiss certain cases – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

October 21st, 2016 – The Arrowhead Justice Court has in place what is, in my opinion, an appropriate process to exercise its statutory authority to dismiss a certain criminal charge on its own initiative; by that, I mean without state involvement. The charge in question is driving on a suspended license, a Class 1 misdemeanor and is one of, if not the most-cited, criminal traffic offenses.

By law, for a court to dismiss this particular criminal charge, the following criteria must be met: 1) the suspension of the defendant’s license was only due to the nonpayment of a civil traffic fine imposed by a court, and 2) the defendant reinstated his or her driver’s license. If those criteria are satisfied, and only then, the court is permitted to dismiss the charge, the outcome being that the defendant has neither a criminal conviction, nor criminal record…  Read the rest on

Answer the call for jury duty – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

September 9th, 2016 – A little more than a year ago I wrote an article describing an all too common experience for many trial courts—an insufficient numbers of jurors appearing for jury service on the date set for trial, which prevented it from going forward.

In the Arrowhead Justice Court, some measures were implemented to remedy the situation that appears to have obtained the desired result. By that, I mean, so far this year, the matter hasn’t resurfaced. My recollection is that there have been five jury trials during 2016 with another three on the calendar through the remainder of the year. The latter number may increase – every Wednesday, I conduct a Calendar Call, also known as Jury Trial Status Conference, in order to determine if criminal charges involved in any particular case require a resolution by trial, be it bench (trial by judge) or jury (trial by one’s peers)…  Read the rest on

Juvenile offenders should pay heed – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

June 3rd, 2016 – With the school spring semester having concluded and summer almost upon us, I decided this was an opportune time to write a column concerning a couple of matters potentially affecting individuals under 18 years of age (juveniles) and, collaterally, their parents or legal guardians. I’m specifically referring to criminal charges alleging violations of curfew and underage possession and/or consumption of spirituous liquor (alcohol).

The Arrowhead Justice Court Precinct, for which I serve as the elected Justice of the Peace and Juvenile Hearing Officer, boundaries include a significant portion of the City of Peoria…  Read the rest on

Glad to be of Service to Veterans – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

February 5th, 2016 – I, along with several colleagues, recently had the honor of representing the Maricopa County Justice Courts at the Arizona Veterans Stand Down event in Phoenix.

The Arizona Veterans Stand Down is a unique opportunity for veterans who are dealing with social, economic and other life challenges, to find, in a single location, resolutions to these types of impediments that are standing in the way of them perhaps finding steady employment, or putting a roof over their heads.

Should a defendant default on fines imposed for civil traffic violations, courts will order the suspension of driving privileges and impose additional fees and assessments. These particular tools, along with others such as issuance of warrants for arrest, are also utilized in criminal matters  Read the rest on

Homeless Court – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

May 19th, 2015 – Homeless Court.  The subject matter of this column isn’t about a court without a home.  Rather it will describe some challenges homeless individuals face interacting with courts and other parties within the legal system, and one particular remedy that some judges have embraced as a solution that can be mutually acceptable to everyone involved.

Individuals may have a need to interact with a court at one of two points in time:  pre- or post-adjudication of criminal charges.   In the pre-adjudication scenario, the defendant may have yet to appear for his or her Arraignment Proceeding or, once having entered a plea of not guilty, will in the future need to show-up for one or more meetings with the Prosecutor and possibly the Public Defender in what are called Pretrial Conferences.   They may also need to attend a trial.  In the post-adjudication scenario, a judge has already imposed a criminal sentence that may involve a monetary fine..
Read on Peoria


Trial in Absentia – Craig Wismer / Peoria Times

April 13th, 2015 – Trial in absentia.  This phrase refers to a court conducting a criminal trial without the presence of the defendant.  You might be wondering if it’s possible for this to occur, and my answer is yes, with a caveat.

Defendants are afforded a multitude of constitutional rights that they may elect to exercise regarding the disposition of criminal charges brought against them by the State.  They may also exercise their prerogative to be present at all court proceedings including Pre Trial Conferences, the trial itself, and post-conviction proceedings including Restitution Hearings.  Alternatively, should they wish to do so, Defendants may opt to waive their presence at some court proceedings without jeopardizing the disposition of their case.  A scenario that becomes potentially problematic for them, however, is their absence at trial…
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The importance of jury service– Craig Wismer

March 3rd, 2015 – Some time ago I wrote a column, the subject matter of which described the esoteric process to select jurors and conduct a misdemeanor criminal jury trial in the Arrowhead Justice Court. There was one particular aspect of a jury trial that I did not spend much time discussing but will use this opportunity to do so: jury service.

As I mentioned, in Arizona criminal defendants, under certain circumstances, are permitted to invoke their right to have a jury of their peers adjudicate misdemeanor charges brought against them by the state….