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Victims Bill of Rights

The Arizona Victims’ Bill of Rights per Arizona State Legislature

Definition of a Victim
In general, “victim” refers to the person harmed by a criminal offense. The perpetrator caused this individual to suffer damages. Any person can be a crime victim. Age matters not because minors can be victims too.

It is important for you, the victim, to understand just who can be defined as a crime victim. Quite often someone believes they are a personal injury victim or sexual assault victims, when such is not the case. They may have suffered personal injury or loss; however, the law required the presence of specific elements before a person can be considered an alleged victim. Likewise, there are occasions when you could have pressed charges but failed to do so because you were unaware of your victim status.

Victims Bill of RightsSection 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.

Surrogate Victims

It is also possible for your relatives to claim your victimhood status. In particular, after a murder, the surviving family members become the victims. The law recognizes that they have lost a loved one. Murderers have to be held accountable for their actions. Survivors go to court to explain how the killing affects them.

Surrogate victims include:

  • child
  • grandparent
  • parent
  • sibling
  • spouse

People Incapable of Defending Themselves

A person with a physical or mental disability can have someone else represent their interest as a victim. Courts understand that people so afflicted may be unable to best explain the situation. Thus, quite often, a parent or guardian will stand in as the voice of the person done harm.

It is important to remember that you can revoke this power at any time. Just inform the authorities that you want to assign another representative or handle your own affairs. The court may make you prove the ability to adequately participate in legal proceedings, so speaking with your attorney about how to handle the situation is best.

Courts themselves can assign a representative to act as victim for you. This occurs when you are ruled legally incompetent.

Non-Living Entities as Victims

There are times in which non-living entities can be victims of criminal actions. In Arizona, neighborhood associations have limited rights under the law, for example.

As always, you should speak with an experienced victims lawyer about such rights to increase the chances of getting justice.

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