Office of Victim Services FAQs

Investigations

How do I report a crime?

There are several ways you can report a crime. The first, and most common, is reporting to your local law enforcement. This can be done by calling 911 for emergencies, the department’s non-emergency number, or online reporting in some jurisdictions.

Certain crimes can be reported to the Attorney General’s Office.

To make a non-emergency criminal complaint, visit https://gateway-sis.azag.gov/PublicComplaint/begin.aspx.

How do I report an offense that is NOT criminal?

To make a consumer complaint against a business, visit https://www.azag.gov/complaints/consumer. The Consumer Protection section investigates consumer complaints, including complaints against business practices or business legitimacy.

To make a civil rights complaint, visit https://www.azag.gov/complaints/civil-rights. The Civil Rights section investigates violations of civil rights, such as discriminatory actions in housing or employment.

What kinds of cases does the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) investigate?

The AGO Special Investigations Section investigates a range of crimes, including: elder abuse, AHCCCS fraud, financial crimes, and drug fraud.

What are my rights during an investigation?

Victims’ rights during an investigation are outlined in the Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 13, Chapter 40, §§13-4405 and 13-4406 and Title 8, Chapter 3, Article 7. These rights include: the right to request or waive applicable rights; the right to designate a lawful representative; the right to be notified of an arrest and initial appearance; and the right to be notified of terms and conditions of the suspect’s release from custody.

I received a form called “Victim Request or Waiver of Victim Rights”. What does this mean?

This form is completed by law enforcement upon determination of a crime. This form contains information about the case (investigator, contact phone number, case number, etc.), the suspect (if identified), and the victim. This is also a place where the victim can designate a lawful representative. The form should come with a pamphlet of resources and other contact information, specific to the county where the crime occurred.

To waive your rights, check the appropriate box, sign the form, and return to the agency that supplied you with the form.

How long does an investigation take?

Investigations can be as short as several months or as long as several years. The length of the investigation depends on the type of crime, the number of victims, and the amount of evidence the agent must compile. If you are not notified of an arrest/detention within 30 days, you have the right to obtain case status information by calling the law enforcement agency investigating your case.

Where can I get a copy of the police report?

You can request a copy of the police report through the agency with which the report was filed (local police or sheriff’s office). There is a small fee to request a report; however, if you are a victim of a part I crime (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, or motor vehicle theft), you may obtain a copy of the report at no cost, pursuant to ARS §39-127.

What happens when a suspect is arrested?

When a suspect is arrested, s/he will be transported to the custodial agency’s jail (typically a county jail). Within 24 hours, the suspect will be seen before a judge for their Initial Appearance. An Initial Appearance (IA) is a hearing after arrest when the suspect learns of the charges against him/her, his/her rights, and the possibility of bail or release.

At the earliest opportunity after the arrest, the victims will be notified by phone or email of the arrest, as well as the date, time and location of the IA and the right to be heard at the hearing. The victims will be referred to the custodial agency and, when possible, given information about how to attend the IA and/or provide a statement to be heard. If you have already received your Victims’ Rights Request/Waiver form from an agent or the advocate assigned to you, you may refer to that form for additional contact information.

Upon arrest, the victims’ information should be provided by the arresting agency to the jail, in order for the jail to provide notification to the victim upon release, escape or death of the suspect.

I lost money as a result of a crime. Can I get my money back while the case is being investigated?

Restitution is not available to victims unless a case is prosecuted and a conviction is achieved. If someone is found guilty of the crime committed against you, the court may order that person to re-pay certain financial costs to you. You should speak with your assigned advocate to discuss submitting a restitution claim. For more information about restitution, visit http://www.azcourts.gov/restitution.

Victim compensation may be available, without a conviction, to victims who meet very specific guidelines. For more information, visit https://www.azag.gov/victim-services/victim-compensation-restitution.

Trial

Why am I not listed as a victim in the indictment?

If the investigation of a crime determines that there is not enough evidence to name you as a victim, you may not be included on the indictment. In some cases prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office, you may be named as an “uncharged victim”. This means that you could still be notified of the case status and, in some cases, depending on the evidence available, you may still be able to request restitution.

Can I get an attorney from the Attorney General’s Office to review my case?

Assistant Attorneys General (AAG) cannot review cases submitted by citizens or victims. AAGs may only review cases that are submitted to our office by law enforcement. AAGs are not available for private hire.

How do I get reimbursed for the financial costs of this crime?

If you suffered a financial loss as a result of the crime committed against you, the court may order the defendant to reimburse you; this is called restitution. You can submit your claim, including documentation, such as medical bills, to the prosecuting attorney. Restitution will only be ordered if the defendant is convicted. Ultimately, the final determination of any order of restitution rests with the court.

You may also apply to your county’s Crime Victim Compensation Board to recover certain expenses. Victim Compensation dispenses funds to help victims and their families deal with the financial impacts of a crime. These monies can be used to cover lost wages, insurance deductibles, mental health counseling, medical expenses, funeral costs, and other expenses incurred as a result of a crime. Victim Compensation is only available to victims who fit very specific qualifications. For more information and to find contact information for your county’s Compensation program, visit http://www.azcjc.gov/victim-services and choose the “Compensation Program” tab.

What are the different types of hearings?

An Arraignment is a defendant’s first formal appearance in court before a judge. At arraignment, the judge will tell the defendant what the charge is and ask if the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. At a pretrial conference (case management conference, status conference), the prosecutor and defense attorney will meet with a judge to focus on the issues of the case, obtain rulings on motions and deal with other matters that contribute to a fair and efficient settlement of the case. The judge may set a date for trial. At a Change of Plea Hearing, the defendant may plead guilty to the charges in a plea agreement. The judge will decide whether to accept or reject the plea agreement. As a victim of a crime, you have the right to speak with the prosecutor regarding the terms of this plea offer.  You also have the right to be present and heard at the Change of Plea Hearing.

Do I have to attend the hearings?

Victims have the right to be informed of and the right to be present at court proceedings when the defendant has the right to appear. Victims also have the right to be heard in court at several different points in the process. If you wish to exercise your rights at these hearings, please contact your advocate. Unless you receive a subpoena which requires attendance at a hearing or trial, or are requested to attend by the prosecutor, you are not required to attend. Hearings may proceed, included Change of Plea Hearings, if you are not present.

Will I have to testify?

As a victim of a crime, you may also be a witness. As a victim/witness you may be called to testify. Either the prosecutor or the defense attorney may subpoena you to testify at trial. The decision whether you will be subpoenaed (required) to testify is determined by the attorneys. Your advocate will keep you informed on the progress of your case and contact you if it is determined that your testimony will be needed.

Is the prosecutor my lawyer?

The prosecutor is the lawyer for the State and is required to represent the interests of the State. The prosecutor is also responsible for ensuring your rights are enforced and you are able to participate in the Criminal Justice System to the extent you wish to do so. He/she is also required to inform the judge of your wishes concerning release of the defendant, the defendant’s sentence and your need for restitution when you have informed the prosecutor. The prosecutor must keep you informed of the progress of the case and afford you the opportunity to confer with you about any plea agreement that may be offered to the defendant. The prosecutor is not your lawyer and cannot act as your sole legal representative. In most instances, the State’s interest (prosecutor’s) and your interests will coincide and cause no conflict. If there is a conflict between what you want and what the prosecutor intends to do, you may retain an attorney. Your advocate can refer you to various legal services but cannot provide a referral to a specific attorney.

I want to drop the charges in this case. How do I do that?

In criminal cases the defendant is charged by the State of Arizona, not by the victim. Although a victim may have made the report, it is the State that is responsible for the prosecution of a crime. In Arizona, crime victims are entitled to certain rights such as the right to confer with a prosecutor; however, the victim cannot file or dismiss criminal charges.

Why is the prosecutor offering a plea agreement? What if I don’t agree with the terms of the plea?

In a plea agreement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to one or more charges (often to a lesser charge than one for which the defendant could stand trial in exchange for a more lenient sentence and/or so that certain related charges are dismissed.) Prosecutors offer plea agreements in order to assure a conviction, even if it is for a lesser charge or crime and may use plea negotiations to further their case against a co-defendant or negotiate sentencing or restitution terms. As a victim of a crime, you have the right to confer with the prosecutor on any plea negotiation and to be present and heard at any plea hearing. The victim does not, however, have the right to direct prosecution of the case. If you disagree with the terms of the plea as presented by the prosecutor, you have the right to address your concerns with the prosecutor or court.

How long until my case is resolved?

Cases can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to resolve depending on many case specific factors.

Appeals

Why do appeals take so long?

The length of the appeals process varies depending on the type of appeal filed by the defendant.  Appeals are often quite lengthy and complex so it can take many years for a case to be fully resolved.

What are the different types of appeals?

There are three types of appeals available to convicted criminals in both the state and federal courts.

  1. A Direct Appeal is available only for defendants convicted by a jury. An Assistant Attorney General from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office is assigned to the case. A panel of judges from the Arizona Court of Appeals, or from the Arizona Supreme Court in death penalty cases, will issue a decision after reviewing written briefs from the State and defendant. The Court may schedule an Oral Argument before issuing a decision. The defendant is usually not present at an Oral Argument. Victims may attend oral arguments but are not allowed to participate in anyway. It can take anywhere from a month to a year a later for the Court to issue a decision.
  2. A Petition for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) is available for defendants convicted by jury or plea agreement. The PCR petition is filed in the original trial court and the original prosecuting office represents the State during PCR proceedings. The arguments presented for post-conviction relief are made in writing. An Oral Argument or Evidentiary Hearing may be scheduled. It may take up to a year or more for the Court to issue its decision regarding a PCR petition. Typically, but not always, a PCR is filed after a direct appeal is completed.
  3. A federal appeal is initiated through a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (PWHC) and is available for defendants convicted by jury or plea agreement. The federal appellate system has three levels which include the US District Court, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the US Supreme Court. A habeas petition may not be filed until all avenues of appeal at the state level have been exhausted. The arguments are presented in writing by the defense and the state. An Oral Argument or Evidentiary Hearing may be scheduled. It may take the courts months or years to issue its decision.

What are my rights during the appeals process?

Victims of a crime have the right to be notified, upon request, of all appellate proceedings and their outcomes.

Why am I not receiving notification about the appeals?

You must opt in to receive post-conviction notification from various agencies, including the prosecuting attorney’s office that represented the state at trial, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, the appropriate adult probation department, the Arizona Department of Corrections and the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency. You may contact your trial advocate to obtain the Post-Conviction Notification Request (PCNR) form in order to opt-in with the agencies responsible for providing post-conviction notification. Additionally, you must keep your contact information up-to-date with the appropriate agencies in order to receive notification; failure to do so may result in a waiver of your victims’ rights.

General

I’ve recently moved or changed my phone number, and need to update my contact information with the office.

Contact your advocate and let them know you’d like to update your contact information. Failure to keep your contact information current with the appropriate agencies may constitute a waiver of your victims’ rights.