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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Protecting Child-Victims Beyond Age 18

October 28, 2014

In Arizona, a child-victim reported her stepfather’s sexual abuse of her and the State initiated criminal proceedings against him.  Pursuant to Arizona’s victims’ rights, both the child-victim and her mother refused to submit to a pretrial interview by the defense.  Trial was continued numerous times.  Throughout this time both the child-victim and her mom refused pretrial interview requests.  Because of the substantial delay in justice, the child-victim turned 18, at which point Defendant filed a motion to compel the victim’s mom to submit to an interview.  The defense essentially argued that child-victims can “age out” of the protections afforded them by law, including the right to have their parent be a safe person to talk with.  Defendant’s request was initially granted and the victim and her mom sought review in the Arizona Supreme Court.  The Court concluded that compelling an interview of a parent who formerly exercised victims’ rights on behalf of a child, solely based on the child reaching majority, is contrary to the purpose of victims’ rights.  Thankfully, Arizona’s child-victims can continue to rely on their parents for support and any incentive to delay cases such that victims’ “age out” of protections has been foreclosed.

The Arizona Voice for Crime Victims represented the victim and her mother.  Edward D. Johnson, a private attorney in Peoria, Arizona generously donated his time to act as local counsel for NCVLI in the filing of amicus curiae brief in the case.