News Flash

MCAO Latest News

Posted on: August 17, 2020

County Attorney Announces Prosecution Policies and Plea Procedures

County Attorney Allister Adel

With 90% of criminal charges ending in plea agreements, Maricopa County Prosecutors now have new policies to guide how to handle these cases, and for the first time in the history of the county attorney’s office, the new plea policies are posted online for public consumption.  

Consistent with Maricopa County Attorney Adel’s direction from her first day in office, these policies are intended to provide line prosecutors with more discretion to do the right thing for the right reasons in their cases without the need to seek approval for every decision.

“Lawyers are trained critical thinkers and I want to empower prosecutors to use that skill in assessing their cases,” stated County Attorney Adel. “Plea offers should not be based on a standard application of a series of rules or any type of “mathematical” formula.  Prosecutors must look at defendants as they are – individuals with unique backgrounds and circumstances who committed specific acts that had specific impacts on individuals or our community. The posting of these policies for public review is necessary to help ensure trust in government and the criminal justice system.”

Policy 7.1 (General Guidance, Timing of Offers, and Settlement Negotiations)

This policy provides a general overview of the entire chapter and explains the goals of plea agreements and the policies in general.  It explains the deviation process and when a pre-approved deviation is required. It also covers topics like probation, class 6 undesignated offenses, restitution, and probation tails that are applicable to most plea agreements or to many different types of cases.

It also has some guidance regarding taking steps to ensure all open cases and submittals are resolved at the time of a plea and how to handle cases where we sentence a defendant without resolving all matters and new cases come in that occurred before the crime for which the person has been sentenced.

This policy also explains expectations regarding settlement conferences and plea negotiations and the importance of conducting negotiations with an open mind to fairly consider any appropriate mitigation presented and input from the judicial officer.

Policy 7.2 (Drug Offenses)

These policies reflect the County Attorney’s “treatment first” approach to drug possession.  This policy provides guidance on drug offenses and gives specific guidance regarding expectations for resolving drug possession cases.  The policy includes separate guidance for marijuana and other types of drugs. 

Policy 7.3 (Violent Crimes and Firearms Offenses)

The policy provides guidance regarding when certain charges should be pled as charged and firearm cases that should have prison sentences, those policies are now presumptive offers which will simplify the process for deviating from this policy when appropriate.  Prior provisions requiring pleas to dangerous offenses in some situations have been removed, however, policies regarding cases where defendants use firearms against police officers did not change. 

Policy 7.4 (Repetitive Offenses)

This policy has been greatly simplified from prior versions and divided into two sections.  The first section covers drug possession cases and the second covers all other offenses.  The policy now notes that pleading with a prior conviction in a drug possession case is disfavored and should only be used as a last resort. 

The policy emphasizes that pleading with a prior conviction in a possession case should, whenever possible, only be done when the person has shown an unwillingness to engage in multiple treatment opportunities and they have demonstrated a willingness to victimize others. 

The second section, addressing non-drug possession offenses, now uses presumptive offers based on the individual’s sentencing range after trial.  Unlike the previous version, this version does not attempt to account for every variable such as whether the person was on probation or community supervision and instead includes those types of details in a list of factors that lawyers should consider in determining whether to use the presumptive offer or to make it more or less harsh. 

Prior policy requirements mandating that defendants with specified criminal histories be required to plead with two prior convictions absent division chief approval has been removed.  However, the policy does include factors a lawyer should consider when deciding if a plea with two prior convictions is appropriate in a given case.  Such an offer should be uncommon and only used when the individual’s behavior and history show little chance for rehabilitation and the individual has shown a continued willingness to victimize others.

Policy 7.5 (Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Offenses)

This policy addresses both domestic violence cases and child abuse cases.  There are several minor revisions here mostly to make the approach consistent with our overall philosophy and the other policies.  The most significant change is for Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC) cases and child abuse cases where the policy previously mandated a 35-year sentence.  The policy now phrases the offer requirement in those cases as a presumptive offer of 20 years.

Policy 7.6 (Sex Offenses)

This policy covers sex offenses.  While the offers are all stated as presumptive offers, for sex offenses the case must be staffed by other prosecutors before an offer is made.  Consistent with child abuse cases noted above, the policy that previously mandated a plea to 35 years has been changed to a presumptive offer of 20 years. 

Policy 7.7 (Driving Under the Influence Offenses)

This policy covers DUI offenses, both felonies and misdemeanors.  Like the other policies, the guidance in this policy has been changed to presumptive offers with factors for lawyers to consider when deciding on an appropriate offer.  The leaving the scene provisions of the previous policy have been removed.

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in MCAO Latest News


Defendant Indicted for Sexual Assault

Posted on: October 30, 2023

Vehicular Heatstroke is Animal Abuse

Posted on: July 10, 2023
Photo of the logo for World Elder Abuse Day

Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Posted on: June 15, 2023
Photo of a baby tiger.

Defendant Selling Wild Tiger Cub Indicted

Posted on: February 28, 2023

Thank You for Your Service

Posted on: February 1, 2023

No Charges for Officer Conduct

Posted on: January 30, 2023
Photos of MCAO employees

A Year in Review

Posted on: December 20, 2022

MCAO Wins Big at the 2022 APAAC Awards

Posted on: August 29, 2022
Website Graphics (1)

Help Deter Catalytic Converter Thefts

Posted on: August 22, 2022
A person reaching for a pair of car keys after they've been drinking.

Celebrate Safely this Fourth of July

Posted on: June 28, 2022
Tori posing in front of a background and flags

K-9 Victim Advocate Tori is Retiring!

Posted on: April 26, 2022

MCAO’s Citizens Academy Is Back!

Posted on: March 28, 2022

Meet our New Community Affairs Coordinator

Posted on: February 21, 2022

Stay Aware of Teen Dating Violence

Posted on: February 14, 2022
New employee meeting other employees at new job

Start the Year with a New Career

Posted on: January 19, 2022

MCAO Year in Review

Posted on: December 21, 2021
An image of caution tape and police sirens

Year in Review: 2021 Crime Trends

Posted on: December 14, 2021
A family gathering around their holiday decorations

Holiday Home and Travel Safety

Posted on: December 6, 2021
Woman shopping online for holiday gifts

Get Gifts, Not Scams this Holiday Season

Posted on: November 22, 2021
Phone Scams

How to Avoid Scams Calls

Posted on: November 15, 2021
Photo of soldier holding an American flag

Honoring All Who Serve on Veterans Day

Posted on: November 10, 2021
Photo of the twin towers

20th Anniversary of September 11th

Posted on: September 10, 2021
Image of girl with the text

Talk to Teens About Substance Abuse

Posted on: August 23, 2021
A man stealing a wallet out of someone's backpack

Practice Personal Safety in Layers

Posted on: August 16, 2021
Two students reading over documents

Internship Opportunities at MCAO

Posted on: July 29, 2021
Someone looking into a parked vehicle

Keep Your Vehicle Safe this Summer

Posted on: July 5, 2021
Utility Scams

Summer Safety Series: Utility Scams

Posted on: June 21, 2021
Three Children Holding Hands

National Missing Children's Day

Posted on: May 24, 2021
Student wearing graduation cap and gown

A Career in Public Service

Posted on: May 4, 2021
Aisha Robertson, Legal Support Assistant, MCAO Victim Services Division

Employee Spotlight: Aisha Robertson

Posted on: April 26, 2021
Victim Advocates

The Importance of Victims’ Rights

Posted on: April 22, 2021
Lady Justice

Understanding Victims’ Rights

Posted on: April 19, 2021
Protect Your Vehicle From Theft

Spring Break Tips: Prevent Car Theft

Posted on: March 15, 2021
Report Graffiti

Report Graffiti in Your Community

Posted on: February 22, 2021
Protect Your Identity

Have You Checked Your Credit Report?

Posted on: March 29, 2021
Online Dating

Swipe Safe with These Online Dating Tips

Posted on: February 8, 2021
Woman Cleaning Counter

Labor Trafficking amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on: January 25, 2021
MCAO Building

A Year in Review at MCAO

Posted on: December 23, 2020
Crime Scene Tape

2020 Snapshot: Crime Across the Valley

Posted on: December 7, 2020
Man placing Credit Card info into Laptop

Shop Safely Online this Holiday Season

Posted on: November 30, 2020
Female domestic violence victim packing suitcase with clothing

Make a Safety Plan to Get Out

Posted on: October 19, 2020
Teen Girl Texting

Remind Teens to Think Before They Send

Posted on: September 28, 2020
County Attorney Allister Adel

Body-Worn Camera Request

Posted on: September 23, 2020
Online Bully

Online Bullying During COVID

Posted on: September 21, 2020
Animal Cruelty

Report Animal Abuse to Law Enforcement

Posted on: September 14, 2020
Labor Day DUI Reminder

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend Safely

Posted on: September 3, 2020
Pills on table

International Overdose Awareness Day

Posted on: August 31, 2020

COVID-19 Contact Tracing Scams

Posted on: July 23, 2020
Two Girls on Laptops

What are the risks of livestreaming?

Posted on: July 13, 2020

What is a Prosecutor?

Posted on: June 25, 2020
Man Vaping

Vaping Warning Signs for Parents

Posted on: June 18, 2020

Help Prevent Opioid Abuse at Home

Posted on: June 16, 2020
Sunset Over Canal and Homes

Keep Your Home Safe this Summer

Posted on: June 4, 2020
Looking through a car windshield at night. The lights are blurred.

Don’t Graduate into a DUI

Posted on: May 19, 2020
Happy Mothers Day

Honoring MCAO Moms

Posted on: May 8, 2020
COVID-19 Stimulus Check Scams

Stimulus Check Scams

Posted on: May 7, 2020
National Law Day 2020

It’s National Law Day

Posted on: May 1, 2020
Angela Andrews

Collaboration is Key

Posted on: April 30, 2020
Inspiration in the Face of Adversity

Inspiration in the Face of Adversity

Posted on: April 24, 2020
Heather Kirka

Charging Ahead and Working Together

Posted on: April 23, 2020
Census form on flag

We All Benefit When We Respond

Posted on: April 16, 2020
Brittany Hogard

Keeping the Wheels of Justice Rolling

Posted on: April 15, 2020
Person typing on computer keyboard

Be a Smart Online User

Posted on: April 13, 2020
Avoid Coronavirus Scams

COVID-19 Scam Awareness

Posted on: March 30, 2020

Community Outreach Highlights

Posted on: March 1, 2020
Allister with Female Staff

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Posted on: March 1, 2020
2020 Census Advertisement - Shape your Future, Start Here

YOU Count: Fill Out the Census Today

Posted on: March 1, 2020

Update On Petersen Investigation

Posted on: December 11, 2019

MCAO Honors Our Veterans

Posted on: November 8, 2019

Dion Earl Found Guilty on All Charges

Posted on: August 22, 2019

MCAO Launches Community Grants Webpage

Posted on: August 12, 2016

Update on Green Acre Dog Boarding Deaths

Posted on: September 22, 2014

National Geographic - Taboo

Posted on: August 31, 2012