Anything the defendant tells you can be used against him or her. You can be called as a witness even if you don’t want to testify. Telephone calls from and visits at the jail are recorded and can be used against the defendant.
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Defendants are often ordered not to have contact with a victim, witness, or co-defendant in the case. That includes third-party contact, meaning it is a violation of his or her release conditions for the defendant to pass messages to those people through you or someone else. If you contact those people, it may look like the defendant asked you to even if he or she did not.
In addition, it is illegal to tamper with witnesses. If you speak to a victim, witness, or co-defendant it may appear that you are trying to influence them and you may get into trouble yourself.
Please, do not send letters directly to the judge, prosecutor, or anyone else in the court system. Do not call or email those people. What you say to them may hurt the defendant, even if you think it will help. If you want to send a letter to the judge, address it "Dear Judge (judge's last name)," but send it to the defendant's attorney. The attorney will review it and forward it to the judge if and when it is helpful.
Please understand that an attorney's obligation is to his or her client. An attorney is not required to talk to a client's friends or family. This is true even if the client is a juvenile or an adult with a guardian. Also, an attorney cannot discuss a client's case with anyone unless the client gives the attorney permission to talk to that person.
That being said, attorneys are often willing to talk to friends and family members to get information about their clients and about the alleged crime(s). If you have information or questions for an attorney, please call the Public Defender's Office at 520-866-7199. If the attorney is not available to talk to you when you call, be sure to leave a detailed message. Include your name, the name of the client you are calling about, a brief description of the information or question you want to discuss with the attorney, and a telephone number where you can be reached.
If you are the named victim in a criminal case, you have certain rights under Arizona law and the Arizona Constitution. One of those is the right not to speak to the defense attorney. A public defender cannot contact you if you are listed as a victim. If you want to speak to a public defender, you can call the Public Defender's Office at 520-866-7199.
If you are the parent of a juvenile client and you are also the named victim in your child's case, these rights apply to you. Your child's attorney cannot contact you. If you would like to talk to your child's attorney, you may initiate contact by calling the Public Defender's Office at 520-866-7199.
The Court can release a defendant to the third-party custody of another person. If you are a third-party signer, your job is to be a tattle tale. You must inform the Court if the defendant violates any of the conditions of release. This includes leaving the state, missing court, using drugs, contacting someone he or she has been ordered not to contact, committing a new crime, etc. If you know that the defendant is violating his release conditions and you do not report it to the Court, you can be fined or even put in jail. As long as you report the violation immediately, you will not be fined or jailed.
If your friend or family member is in the Pinal County Jail and you have questions about visitation, please call the jail at 520-866-5021.
The sections of this webpage designed for clients contain basic information about the criminal court system, including a description of the standard hearings in adult and juvenile cases. Please refer to those pages, but remember, they are written for clients.