By Lewis S. Levin, Presiding Judge
Sedona AZ (December 9, 2015) – The Sedona Municipal Court, also referred to as the Magistrate Court or City Court, is the judicial branch of the Sedona city government. It is also part of the Arizona State Court System and under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court.
The Sedona Municipal Court, like all municipal courts in the state, is a limited jurisdiction court. Its authority, that is, its ability to hear certain cases and make decisions about them, is defined by the Arizona State Constitution and by state law.
Unaware of this fact, many citizens call or visit the Municipal Court expecting to receive services that it is unable to provide. The following information may be helpful to explain these limitations.
First, what is the jurisdiction of the Sedona Municipal Court? Briefly stated, the Court handles misdemeanor criminal cases, such as driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, assault, theft, and criminal trespass; civil traffic cases, and violations of the Sedona City Code including zoning and building code violations. Most of these offenses are class one misdemeanors. Class one misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 plus an 83 percent surcharge and/or jail of up to six months, or both fine and jail.
The Court also hears petitions for orders of protection and injunctions against harassment, conducts evidentiary hearings and civil traffic hearings. It also issues search warrants and arrest warrants.
Criminal cases are tried by either a jury or the judge, depending upon the offense charged. Civil traffic hearings are conducted by the judge and are more informal in nature.
If you receive a citation from a police officer, you will also be given a yellow envelope containing a fine schedule. It is important that you read the information on this schedule carefully before calling the Court, as this form will explain most of the questions you may have about your charge and what you need to do.
The Sedona Municipal Court does not handle:
- Felony criminal cases: Felonies are handled by the Superior Court in either Camp Verde or Flagstaff, depending on whether the offense occurred in Yavapai or Coconino County.
- Family law matters, such as divorce and child custody issues, are also the province of the Superior Courts.
- Marriage licenses: Although the Municipal Court Judge does perform weddings at the Sedona Court, marriage licenses must first be obtained from any Superior Court.
- Small claims suits and landlord-tenant issues: These matters are handled by the Verde Valley Justice Court in Cottonwood or the Flagstaff Justice Court in Flagstaff, depending upon the county in which you reside.
- Civil matters such as contract disputes, personal injury claims, or issues regarding property or land: These sorts of claims are handled by the Yavapai County or Coconino County Superior Court depending upon the county in which you live.
- Defensive driving school (DDS) registration: If you received a traffic citation or a violation that is eligible for DDS, you must follow the instructions on the bond and fine schedule that was included with the ticket and register directly with an approved school. State certified defensive driving schools are independent private companies not affiliated with the Court.
- Recovering vehicles impounded by the police: The Court does not have any authority when a vehicle is impounded. You must contact the police department for information on where and how to retrieve your vehicle.
The Sedona Municipal Court’s objective is to serve those who appear before it impartially and with fairness and integrity, providing the parties an opportunity to have their case heard.