Arizona Courts Overview
It helps to understand how the Arizona state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Arizona trial court system consists of Superior Courts, Justice Courts, Municipal Courts, and Tax Court.
Superior Courts are general jurisdiction courts that typically only handle cases beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Superior Courts have specialized divisions for certain types of cases, including a Tax Court division. Justice Courts and Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.
If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Arizona courts by county.
Arizona Superior CourtsSuperior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, except when jurisdiction is limited by law or exclusively assigned to another court. If no other court has jurisdiction to handle a particular case, Superior Courts have jurisdiction.
Superior Courts have original jurisdiction over civil cases including probate, estate, divorce, annulment of marriage, disputes over title and possession to real property, civil cases involving claims for $10,000 or more (exclusive of interest and costs), the legality of municipal ordinances, actions for forcible entry and detainer, proceedings in insolvency, actions to prevent or stop a nuisance, and naturalization. Superior Courts share jurisdiction with Justice Courts for civil cases involving claims for $5,001 - $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs.
Superior Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over felony criminal cases, but preliminary hearings for felony cases can happen in lower courts. Superior Courts share jurisdiction with Justice Courts over misdemeanors when the potential penalty does not exceed $2,500 or imprisonment for six months.
Arizona Justice CourtsJustice Courts have limited jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases.
Criminal cases heard by Justice Courts include felony preliminary hearings, misdemeanors and criminal offenses punishable by a fine of less than $2,500 or less than six months in county jail.
Justice Courts have original jurisdiction over all civil actions that involve claims for $5,000 or less, exclusive of interest or costs. Justice Courts also handle cases involving the possession of real property, such as landlord-tenant cases, if the title or ownership of the property is not in dispute.
Justice Courts have Small Claims Court divisions that handle most civil cases when the amount in dispute is less than $2,500, exclusive of interest and costs. The Small Claims division will not handle certain types of cases, including defamation, slander, libel, class action lawsuits, specific performance, injunctive relief, disputes over the title of real property, lawsuits against the State or its employees, traffic violations and criminal cases. There is no right to a jury trial in the Small Claims Division.
Justice Courts share jurisdiction with Superior Courts over civil cases with disputes worth between $5,001 - $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs.
Some Justice Courts share jurisdiction with Municipal Courts over traffic violations.
Arizona Municipal CourtsMunicipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over misdemeanor crimes and petty offenses committed in their city or town, including criminal traffic cases and violations of city ordinances and codes. They may also hear civil traffic cases and issue protection orders or anti-harassment injunctions.
Municipal Courts share jurisdiction with Justice Courts over violations of State law committed within the limits of the city or town. Municipal Courts also share jurisdiction with some Justice Courts over traffic violations.
Some cities and towns may refer to their Municipal Court as a City Court or Magistrate Court. Magistrate Courts and Municipal Courts were once separate types of courts in the Arizona court system. After a statewide consolidation, Municipal Courts now have the duties and jurisdiction of both the former Municipal and Magistrate courts.
Arizona Tax CourtThe Arizona Tax Court hears cases regarding disputes over the imposition, assessment or collection of any state or local tax. It has statewide jurisdiction and hears cases involving property taxes, municipal sales taxes, and state taxes. It cannot hear cases regarding federal taxes.
There is a Small Claims Division of the Tax Court that hears certain cases regarding owner-occupied residences, real estate with an assessed value of one million dollars or less, and disputes over a state or local tax of less then five thousand dollars. The Small Claims Division offers a simplified court process.
Both Tax Court and Tax Court Small Claims cases are heard in Maricopa County and the Clerk of the Maricopa County Superior Court serves as the Tax Court Clerk of Court.
Arizona Tribal CourtsSeveral Native American nations in Arizona operate their own independent judicial systems. The courts in these judicial systems are known as Tribal Courts. Tribal Courts have some civil and criminal jurisdiction and their orders may be enforced by the Arizona state court system.
Arizona Court NotesOrders of Protection:
Injunctions Against Harassment and Domestic Violence Protection Orders can generally be filed in Superior Courts, Justice Courts and Municipal Courts. If a Domestic Violence Protection Order involves pending cases for paternity, maternity, annulment or divorce, the request must be filed in Superior Court.
Specialty Court Programs:
Some Arizona courts have programs that provide treatment and social services in lieu of incarceration for some non-violent offenders with substance abuse or mental health problems. Examples include DUI/Drug Court in Coconino County, Drug Court in Maricopa County Superior Court, and Tucson Veterans Court and Tucson City Court Mental Health Division in Tucson City Court in Pima County.
Where to Find Court Cases in Arizona
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of Arizona court.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||Superior Courts||Justice Courts||Municipal Courts|
|General Civil - Unlimited|
|General Civil - Limited|
|Foreclosures and Liens|
|Real Estate Title and Boundary|
|Landlord / Tenant|
|Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders|
|Administrative Agency Appeals|
|Criminal||Superior Courts||Justice Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Superior Courts||Justice Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||Superior Courts||Justice Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Superior Courts||Justice Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||Superior Courts||Justice Courts||Municipal Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|