Per 17A A.R.S. Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 17.1(a)(3), telephonic long distance changes of plea are available to individuals who reside more than 100 miles from the justice or municipal court in which the individual has pending criminal charges. A long distance change of plea has the same effect as a change of plea entered at a personal court appearance, except that the change of plea hearing is conducted entirely by telephone.
Certain types of cases are not eligible for long distance change of plea. These include sexual offenses involving a victim; domestic violence offenses involving serious injury; domestic violence offenses with priors; and, any crime that would otherwise be classified as a serious victim crime.
Prior to accepting a long distance change of plea, the court will require the following:
1. Any restitution must be paid in full
2. The defendant must show proof of enrollment in domestic violence counseling, where applicable
3. The defendant must complete an alcohol screening where applicable
4. The defendant has made arrangements to serve any jail time required by the plea
In addition, fines of $500 or less must be paid in full prior to acceptance of a long distance change of plea. Should a fine exceed $500, then the first $500 must be paid in full prior to the hearing and payment will be established such that the balance is paid in full by the completion of the probationary period. Community service will not be accepted in lieu of fines.
A defense attorney or an unrepresented defendant may request a long distance change of plea by sending an electronic request to LDCOPRequest.CHPO5.CHDOM2@Tucsonaz.gov or by mailing a written request to: LDCop Request, Tucson City Prosecutor's Office, P.O. Box 27210, Tucson, AZ 85726-7210.
Requests must contain 1) the defendant's name as it appears on the citation; 2) the defendant's date of birth; 3) the related case docket or citation number; and, 4) an email address and/or a telephone number.
Requests will be presented to the court on the first Tuesday of each month. The prosecutor will make offers on those requests and the court will forward the State's offer to the defendant along with forms and instructions. A telephonic hearing will be set two months from the date the offer is extended. For example, if the prosecutor extends an offer in April, the defendant will be assigned to the June hearing session and must be available at the time specified to accept a phone call from the court and to respond to the State's offer.
It falls upon the defendant to comply with Tucson City Court's terms and instructions for completing the long distance change of plea process. Failure to do so will result in a denial of the request for a long distance change of plea and a notation in the file that future requests for such a plea may be denied.