In addition to seeking compensation for crime victims with civil lawsuits, my office also represents crime victims in the criminal case against the perpetrator. Crime victims have rights in a criminal proceeding including the right to be heard at any hearing where the criminal defendant may be released from custody and the right to be heard at sentencing. Crime victims also have the right to refuse to be interviewed by the criminal defense attorney. Finally, Arizona's Constitution and the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure give the crime victims the right to be represented by an attorney in the criminal case.
As a crime victim attorney, I can assist the victims throughout all elements of the criminal proceeding. For example, every state has a victim's compensation fund which provides money for crime victims to compensate them for time missed from work, funeral expenses, counseling expenses, and travel to and from the criminal proceedings. In Arizona, these funds are administered by the county attorney's office in every county.
One important right that crime victims have is the right to have the prosecutor confer with them before a plea bargain is offered. This is an important right. Frequently, I have gotten both the prosecutor and criminal defense attorney to agree to a provision in the plea bargain where the criminal defendant will answer all of my questions under oath prior to sentencing. This an important provision to add to the plea agreement as the criminal defendant may be the only person with information as to exactly how and why a crime took place.
Additionally, I often attend sentencing with the crime victims. At sentencing, I frequently learn information that is helpful the victim's pursuit of civil justice.