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Arizona's Constitution provides protections for crime victims. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, it is important that you understand that you cannot directly or indirectly contact anyone who is an alleged victim of the crime. There may be cases where the alleged victim is a family member, your spouse or significant other. If you are charged with a crime, such as domestic violence, the court will order that you have no contact with the alleged victim. Sometimes the alleged victim will contact you directly. You should not have any contact, even if the alleged victim calls you first. Judges can sanction you. If you want contact, you must first obtain permission from the judge. Your attorney can petition for a modification of your release conditions to allow for contact. The full constitutional rights of victims are provide below:
Section 2.1. (A) To preserve and protect victims' rights to justice and due process, a victim of crime has a right:
1. To be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, throughout the criminal justice process.
2. To be informed, upon request, when the accused or convicted person is released from custody or has escaped.
3. To be present at and, upon request, to be informed of all criminal proceedings where the defendant has the right to be present.
4. To be heard at any proceeding involving a post-arrest release decision, a negotiated plea, and sentencing.
5. To refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request by the defendant, the defendant's attorney, or other person acting on behalf of the defendant.
6. To confer with the prosecution, after the crime against the victim has been charged, before trial or before any disposition of the case and to be informed of the disposition.
7. To read pre-sentence reports relating to the crime against the victim when they are available to the defendant.
8. To receive prompt restitution from the person or persons convicted of the criminal conduct that caused the victim's loss or injury.
9. To be heard at any proceeding when any post-conviction release from confinement is being considered.
10. To a speedy trial or disposition and prompt and final conclusion of the case after the conviction and sentence.
11. To have all rules governing criminal procedure and the admissibility of evidence in all criminal proceedings protect victims' rights and to have these rules be subject to amendment or repeal by the legislature to ensure the protection of these rights.
12. To be informed of victims' constitutional rights.
(B) A victim's exercise of any right granted by this section shall not be grounds for dismissing any criminal proceeding or setting aside any conviction or sentence.
(C) "Victim" means a 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.
(D) The legislature, or the people by initiative or referendum, have the authority to enact substantive and procedural laws to define, implement, preserve and protect the rights guaranteed to victims by this section, including the authority to extend any of these rights to juvenile proceedings.
(E) The enumeration in the constitution of certain rights for victims shall not be construed to deny or disparage others granted by the legislature or retained by victims.
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Robert J. Campos, Criminal Law Specialist