Overview of Arizona Courts
In order to find Arizona court records, it's helpful to understand how the state court system works. Each state varies and we've compiled this information to help your search. You can also start your search by going directly to courts by county.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|