Victims' Rights In Arizona

The following information contains only partial information contained in the Victims' Rights, Your Guide to the Criminal Justice System, Maricopa County Attorney's Office. To receive a complete brochure, contact the Justice Court Bureau (602) 506-8522.

 

In Arizona, victims of adult crime have been given many rights from the State Constitution, Arizona law and Court Rule. To exercise many of your rights, you must make a request to the governmental agency responsible for performing the duty. Each agency may have different procedures for invoking your rights, including requiring that you fill out the agency's specific request form.

As soon after the detection of a crime, the law enforcement agency investigating the crime has the duty to provide you with a "Pre-Conviction Request Form" (if it does not interfere with their investigation or arrest of the suspect). This form allows you to request (invoke) or not request (waive) your applicable rights to which you are entitled.

Who is the Victim?

By law, a victim is the person against whom the criminal offense has been committed, or if the person is killed or incapacitated, the person's spouse, parent, child or other lawful representative, except if the person is in custody for an offense or is the accused.

By law, a person has rights as a victim after the arrest or formal charging of the person(s) responsible for a criminal offense. If the final termination of a criminal prosecution is by dismissal with prejudice or acquittal, the victim no longer is entitled to such rights. If the defendant received a sentence of probation or prison, the victim has rights until the defendant has completed his/her sentence.

It is important that you keep the County Attorney's Office informed of your current name, address and telephone number. If the County Attorney's Office is informed by the Postal Service that notifications mailed to the address that you have provided are not deliverable, they will consider this a withdrawal of your request. The County Attorney's Office will make an effort to notify you of hearings set on short notice only if you provide a telephone number(s) where you can be reached (or a message left) during business hours.

You may request or restore your rights at any time during the course of prosecution by calling the County Attorney's Office Victim Witness Division. If the defendant has been sentenced, then you must complete the "Post-Conviction Request Form" and mail it to the appropriate agencies.

Victims' Rights During Investigation

The law enforcement agency investigating the crime has the duty to provide you with information about your rights and how to request them, emergency service available to you, and information about the arrest and initial appearance of the offender. In addition, the law enforcement agency has the duty to:

Tell you whether the suspect is an adult or juvenile

Tell you of the suspect's arrest, at the earliest opportunity

Tell you about how to get information about court dates if the offender is issued a citation

Tell you about domestic violence services; and

Provide you with information about public and private victim assistance programs, including the county victim compensation program and programs that provide counseling and other support services

If the County Attorney's Office has made the decision not to prosecute a case, the office will notify the listed victim(s) of the decision and the victim's right to confer with the prosecutor prior to the decision becoming final. If you receive this letter, and you want to exercise your right to confer, you must contact the telephone number listed within 10 days of the date on the letter. If you do not do this, the decision becomes final unless additional significant information comes to the attention of the police.

You have the right to request the County Sheriff notify you of the escape or the release of the offender from custody on a bond. You also have the right to request a copy of the terms and conditions of the offender's release from custody from the Sheriff's Office (if the offender was arrested) or the prosecutor's office when the prosecutor's office receives the information from the court (if the offender was ordered to appear in court on a summons). The prosecutor's office will provide you with information about the defendant's initial appearance in court, if the defendant was summoned to appear in court, when the prosecutor's office receives the information from the Court.

Victims' Rights Before Trial

If you have invoked your victims' rights, the County Attorney's Office has the duty to inform you of the charges filed against the defendant.

The County Attorney's Office is responsible for prosecuting felony offenses that occur with the county and misdemeanor offenses that occur with the county but outside the city limits. If you are the victim of a misdemeanor offense in which the offender receives a citation to appear in a Justice Court, you should contact that court to request information about court dates.

After charges have been filed, the County Attorney's Office or the Deputy County Attorney will:

Withhold your home address and telephone number; and name, address and telephone number of your place of employment from disclosure to the defendant and/or his/her attorney;

Tell you the name of the person with the County Attorney's Office to contact for more information;

Provide you with written notice, upon your request, of the date, time and place of court hearings that the court schedules at least 5 days in advance;

Attempt to provide you with verbal notice by telephone during business hours, upon your request, of the date, time and place of court hearing that the court schedules in less than 5 days;

Confer with you, upon request, prior to a hearing to release the defendant from custody, provided that the court has given this office adequate notice of the hearing;

Confer with you, upon your request, prior to entering into a plea agreement; and

Confer with you, upon your request, prior to trial.

Your right to confer with the prosecutor is an opportunity for you to get answers to your questions, to better understand the court system and the reason behind some legal decisions, and to express your opinion to the prosecutor. Your right to confer does not include the right to direct the prosecution of the case.

It is common for court dates to be continued. If you have an opinion about the continuance of a scheduled court date, you should inform the Deputy County Attorney or Victim Witness Advocate by calling to let him or her know your opinion about a continuance. The Deputy County Attorney will inform the court if you do not want the court date to be continued. If the court decides to continue the case anyway, the court may state on the record the reasons for the continuance. If you choose not to attend a court hearing and wish to know if a hearing has been continued, you should call the court to inquire. This office will not provide separate notice of court continuances that are set for less than 5 days.

Victims' Right Regarding Pre-Trial Interviews

In Arizona, the attorney for the defendant has the right to interview all of the witnesses who will be testifying for the prosecution (the State). However, as a victim you have the right to refuse to submit to a pre-trial interview, deposition or other discovery request by the defendant's attorney or investigator. By law, if the defense attorney wants to interview you, he/she must make his/her request for an interview through the prosecutor after charges have been filed. This office will then ask you if you will agree to an interview with the defendant's attorney before trial. It is your decision if you will grant an interview.

If you grant an interview, you have the right to:

Refuse to be interviewed or to submit to a deposition conducted by a defendant who is acting as his/her own attorney;

Refuse to submit to an interview or deposition if the defendant is present; and

Terminate the interview at any time.

You have the right to place conditions on the interview or deposition. You have the right:

To specify a reasonable date, time, duration and location of the interview or deposition;

To be accompanied to an interview or deposition by a relative, or supportive person if that person is not a witness.

Victims' Rights During Court Proceedings

During the court proceedings you have the right:

To be present in the courtroom whenever the defendant has the right to be there, including trial;

To be accompanied to any judicial proceeding by a relative or other supportive person unless that person is also a witness;

To make a statement to the court at a proceeding in which the court considers the post-arrest release of the defendant, a change of plea, and at the sentencing;

To have the court provide appropriate safeguards to minimize any contact that might occur between yourself and the defendant or the defendant's family or friends;

Not to testify regarding your address, telephone numbers, place of employment or other locating information unless you consent or the court orders disclosure on finding that a compelling need for the information exists;

To ask the prosecutor to have the court reconsider the defendant's release from pre-trail custody. If the prosecutor decides not to do this, the prosecutor will inform you of that decision and of your rights to petition to the court to have the defendant's release revoked based upon your notarized statement that harassment, threats, physical violence or intimidation against you or your immediate family has occurred by the defendant or on behalf of the defendant;

To have the court, prosecutor and law enforcement officials take appropriate action to ensure a speedy trial.

You may exercise your right to be heard in the form of an oral statement or it may be written, audio taped or video taped.

You have the right to be present at all criminal proceedings in which the defendant has a right to be present. However, you do not need to attend court proceedings unless you receive a subpoena, are court ordered, or have been asked to attend by the Deputy Attorney. If you choose to attend the proceedings, check in with the Judge's secretary and/or the Deputy County Attorney so that the court and the prosecutor know that you are present.

The prosecutor may assist you in exercising your rights at any judicial proceeding, upon your request. However, if there is a conflict between you and the County Attorney's Office, you may hire your own attorney to assist you in exercising your rights as a victim. The prosecutor can provide you with referrals to legal assistance agencies.

Victims' Rights During Sentencing

After the defendant has entered a guilty or no contest pleas or has been found guilty at trial of a felony offense, a pre-sentence investigation is conducted. You have the right to provide the Pre-Sentence Investigator with information regarding the emotional, physical and financial impact the crime has had on you and to state your sentencing recommendations. You also have the right:

To read the pre-sentence report when it is available to the defendant and, upon request, to have the County Attorney's Office provide you with a copy of the pre-sentence report, (this does not include the defendant's criminal history);

To present evidence, information and opinions that concerns the crime, the defendant, and the sentence to the Judge at the time of sentencing; and to have the court order the defendant to pay restitution for your economic losses directly related to the crime.

Victims' Rights After Sentencing

After the defendant has been sentenced, and if you have requested notification, the County Attorney's Office will notify you of the sentence imposed by the court and will send you a "Post-Conviction Request Form" that you must complete if you want to request your rights to post-conviction notification. It will be your responsibility to complete the form and to mail it to all of the governmental agencies that you want to inform you of hearings and events after the defendant has been sentenced. Upon request, you have the following rights:

To be notified by the Board of Executive Clemency of a Parole Hearing and to state your opinion regarding the parole of the inmate from prison, if the defendant was sentenced to prison;

To be notified by the Department of Corrections of the release or death of the inmate (if the defendant was sentenced to serve time in prison) or by the County Sheriff's Office (if the defendant was sentenced to serve time in jail);

To be notified by Mental Health Treatment agency of the escape, release, or discharge of a person accused or convicted of committing the criminal offense;

To be notified of any appeal of the defendant's conviction by the Attorney General's Office if the appeal was to a higher court and from the County Attorney's Office if the appeal was to the trial court (called Post-Conviction Relief);

To be notified by the County Adult Probation Department of a revocation disposition, termination, or modification of probation if the modification will significantly affect the probationer's contact with or the safety of the victim or if the modification affects restitution or custody status (jail);

To be present and make a statement at the probation revocation disposition, or any proceeding in which the court is requested to terminate probation, or modify any terms of probation that significantly affect the probationer's contact with or the safety of the victim or restitution or jail status; and

To receive prompt restitution.

The Department of Corrections will notify all victims of an inmate escape, even if the victim(s) did not submit a request for notice.

 

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Disclaimer: This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or mental advice. Professionals should be contacted for all legal advice, mental and threat assessments.


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