FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
“Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in fnding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong. “
Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919)
Who is a victim?
Arizona law defines who is a victim. A victim is a person against whom a crime has been committed. You do not have to suffer an economic loss to be considered a crime victim.
What is a right?
A protection that you are entitled to under the law.
What do victim rights mean?
You have several rights. You have the right to give input into every part of the legal process that involves you.
Can you give me an example of these rights?
- You are entitled to be treated fairly and to be represented throughout the criminal prosecution.
You have a right to attend and be heard at any pre-trial hearing where the defendant has the same right.
You have the right to speak with prosecutors about the case and any possible plea offer.
You have the right to explain how the crime has affected you, present evidence, information and opinions at sentencing.
You have the right to refuse defense requests for interviews and to take steps to protect your privacy.
When can I assert these rights?
You can assert your rights as a crime victim at any time after the state charges the defendant with a crime.
Am I on my own or can I have a lawyer act on my behalf?
You have the choice to either represent yourself, ask the prosecutor to assist you, or you can request that an attorney represent you. Our organization is here to help at no cost to you.
What is an economic loss?
Did you miss work due to the crime? Have you had to pay medical expenses? Funeral costs? Have you lost property? Have you lost your ability to work? Will you need future medical care? Will you have job retraining costs? Any of these things are considered economic loss and you are entitled to restitution.
What is restitution?
The purpose of restitution is to make you whole by paying for your economic loss or returning your property to you.
How is restitution determined?
At the end of the case the Court will decide the amount of restitution based on the information you provide. Your views, evidence and information plays a key role here. Make sure to document everything. Keep copies of all your receipts, take pictures of your lost or damaged property and be ready to provide this information to the court when needed. Contact us for further assistance.
Are there losses in the criminal case that are not recoverable as restitution?
Yes. In the criminal case, you cannot recover punitive damages designed to punish the wrongdoer, you cannot recover losses for pain and suffering and you cannot recover other indirect losses related to the crime. But you can file a separate civil lawsuit for that.
A restitution award is fine but how do I actually get the money?
After determining the amount of restitution, the court will also rule how payments are made. Typically, these payments are made monthly and are based on the defendant’s ability to pay. The court must consider your views and make reasonable efforts to help you receive full restitution as quickly as possible.
What if I disagree with a monthly payment order?
You have the right at any time to file a petition asking the court to change the manner of payment. Contact us for further information.
The Defendant is not paying my restitution. What can I do?
It depends. If the defendant is in prison, the Arizona Department of Corrections must withdraw money from the inmate’s prison spendable account. Contact the Arizona Department of Corrections to ensure that they have a copy of the restitution award.
If the defendant is on probation, the probation department must ensure the defendant pays restitution. If that does not happen, contact us for help evaluating your options. Your remedies depend on factors like if the Defendant’s non-payment was intentional, simply an oversight or if they don’t have the ability to pay the current amount.
If the defendant is neither in prison or on probation, you must file a petition with the criminal court.
Can restitution orders be discharged in bankruptcy?
Unlike most civil judgments, restitution orders are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Where can I find more information on crime victim rights in Arizona?
To get more information on crime victims’ rights, including the Arizona Victims’ Bill of Rights, please visit: https://www.azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/AZ-Victims-Center
Is your organization available for training members of law enforcement, attorneys, judges, etc.?
Yes, we'd be happy to help your organization and have done so for many organizations in Arizona. Contact us and let us help you.
In 1990, Arizona Voters passed the Victim Bill of Rights enshrining legal protections for crime victims into Article 2, Section 2.1 of the Arizona Constitution: