If you have been a victim of a crime, justice may occur in two separate systems: civil and criminal. In the civil justice system, you seek money for physical, emotional and economic losses caused by the defendant. Also, offenders are held financially accountable for all losses, not to the State, but to the victims who suffered because of the crime.
Regardless of whether there was a successful criminal prosecution, or any prosecution at all, victims can bring their claims before a civil court to hold perpetrators or other responsible parties accountable for their damages. Some examples of other parties who might share some responsibility for the crime include business owners who fail to provide reasonable security measures, adults who allow children unfettered access to firearms, bar owners who serve alcohol to clearly intoxicated customers and childcare providers who allow children to come into harm’s way. Crime victims may have civil remedies in cases involving the following felony and misdemeanor offenses:
Contrasted with civil justice, the prosecutor in the criminal justice system acts on behalf of the State of Arizona to punish the criminal and controls the prosecution. The prosecutor does not represent the victim and the victim is not a client of the prosecutor. Instead, victims have the right to exercise their constitutionally protected rights throughout this process including the right to receive notice of any criminal hearing, the right to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect, the right to refuse an interview, the right to receive prompt payment of restitution for economic loss, the right to confer with the prosecutor and give input into plea offers, and the right to make statements at sentencing. These rights are fundamental to the system of justice in Arizona and victims should seek experienced attorneys to help them throughout the prosecution. My firm, along with the Arizona Crime Victim Rights Law Group represents victims of crime typically at no cost to them in all phases of the criminal justice system to exercise their rights and provide input into the process. If appropriate, my firm may exercise these rights in a way that preserves a victim’s right to coordinate between civil and criminal remedies to seek restitution for economic loss in the criminal case as well as monetary civil remedies against the wrongdoer or others in the civil justice system. Victims can recover restitution for economic loss in a criminal case and damages for pain and suffering and punitive damages in a civil case. But victims cannot recover the same types of damages in both settings.
My firm helps victims obtain and recover restitution for economic losses and if needed, evaluate whether victims may also have a civil remedy available to them. While money awarded in civil lawsuits can never fully compensate suffering or the loss of a loved one, it can help rebuild lives.