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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Arizona Clinic and NCVLI Secure Legal Victory for Victims of Hit-and-Run Offense

March 03, 2011

NCVLI and its partner clinic, Arizona Voice for Crime Victims, helped  the state of Arizona secure a victory for victims’ rights in the Arizona Court of Appeals. Defendant, who struck and fatally injured a child, was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident but was not alleged to be criminally liable for the accident itself.  Defendant sought to interview the child’s parents, and the trial court ruled that the child’s parents were not entitled to assert victims’ constitutional and statutory rights, including the right to refuse a defense interview, essentially concluding that hit-and-run is a victimless crime.  The state filed a special action challenging the trial court’s determination, and the court of appeals held that a hit-and-run offense is not a victimless crime and that a driver who flees the scene of an injury accident has committed a crime against the injured person.  The appellate court concluded that because the child was a victim of defendant’s failure to stop and render aid, and because parents of a minor victim are entitled to invoke crime victims’ rights and protections on their own behalf, the parents of the child could properly assert their right to decline a defense interview.