Arizona Court Denies Defendant’s Request to Compel Victim to Interview in Sexual Assault Case

In a recent Arizona opinion involving sexual assault, the court denied the defendant’s request to make his daughter answer questions in an interview regarding her experience as a victim of the defendant’s actions. Even though Arizona law protects sexual assault victims from having to do interviews against their will, the defendant argued that since the daughter resided in North Dakota, this law should not apply to her. The court disagreed, ruling that the daughter did not, in fact, have to answer questions if she did not want to answer them.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was indicted in 2019 on one charge of sexual conduct with a minor under fifteen. The victim was the defendant’s daughter, who he allegedly abused from 1997 to 1999 in the state of Arizona. The case against the defendant became complicated by the fact that the defendant’s second daughter also reported that he had sexually abused her when she was living with him in North Dakota. The defendant pled guilty in North Dakota to continuous sexual abuse of his second daughter, and he was sentenced to twelve years in prison.

Meanwhile, in the case that was happening in Arizona, the defendant wanted to interview his first daughter, the one who accused him of sexual assault in North Dakota. The defendant thought that including an interview with this second daughter could somehow strengthen his case in Arizona. This daughter in North Dakota, however, declined to be interviewed. On appeal, the defendant argued that his daughter in North Dakota should have been forced to answer questions in an interview and that her refusal to interview unfairly affected his ability to put together a complete defense.

The Opinion

The court disagreed with the defendant, concluding that it was not reasonable to force the daughter in North Dakota to answer questions in an interview. According to Arizona law, victims of sexual assault crimes have the right to refuse interviews when those interviews are requested by defendants. The defendant’s main argument in this case was that because the daughter did not reside in Arizona, this Arizona law did not apply to her.

Under the court’s logic, the Arizona law did, in fact, apply to the daughter in North Dakota. The court noted that all 50 states have adopted protections for victims of sexual assault, so it made sense to ensure the protection of victims even when they were living in different states. Also, said the court, even though the daughter did not reside in Arizona, the case was happening in Arizona, so it was logical to give her the same protections she would have gotten if she were living in Arizona at the time of the court case. Overall, said the court, it was important to provide the daughter with “respect, protection, participation and healing” of the incidents of sexual abuse. In the court’s opinion, allowing her to refuse the interview was the best way to protect her individual rights.

Have You Been Charged with Sexual Assault in Arizona?

If you have been charged with sexual assault in Arizona, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney who is well versed in the complexities of the law. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we will offer you a free, confidential consultation with your best interests in mind. Our cutting-edge defense strategy and proven track record make us your best bet at ensuring your rights are well protected. For your consultation, give us a call at 480-413-1499.

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