Arizona Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a crime that carries stiff penalties upon conviction, and reports of domestic violence are taken extremely seriously by law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges in Arizona and across the country. In the state of Arizona, domestic violence charges can be filed for any abuse, acts of violence or threatened harm between people involved in a domestic relationship, including married couples, people who are dating, close family members or cohabitants (roommates). If you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence in Arizona, you need to do everything in your power to be proactive in protecting your rights and defending yourself against such damaging charges. First and foremost, you need a reputable Arizona criminal defense attorney on your side who specializes in domestic violence cases and can help you get the best possible outcome in your case.
Arizona Domestic Violence Laws
Most people think of physical acts of violence or abuse when they hear the term “domestic violence,” but the truth is that there are many different types of behavior that can constitute domestic violence. Under Arizona law, crimes of domestic violence can include:
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Verbal threats
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Criminal trespass
- Psychological abuse
- Emotional abuse
The Arizona statute that covers acts of domestic violence is Arizona Revised Statute 13-3601, which defines domestic violence as any act that is a dangerous crime against a child or against any other protected party in a person’s household. That means the crime of domestic violence can be charged if any of the following applies:
- The relationship between the victim and the defendant is one of marriage or former marriage or of persons residing or having resided in the same household.
- The victim and the defendant have a child in common.
- The victim or the defendant is pregnant by the other party.
- The victim is related to the defendant or the defendant’s spouse by blood or court order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law or sister-in-law.
- The victim is a child who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who resides or who has resided in the same household as the defendant.
- The relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously a romantic or sexual relationship.
Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction
Violent crimes are punished harshly in Arizona, and that includes crimes of domestic violence, spousal abuse, or sexual assault. The specific penalties stemming from a domestic violence conviction can vary a great deal depending on the specific facts and circumstances of the case, including the nature of the criminal charge, the severity of the alleged victim’s injuries, and the accused’s criminal record, among other factors. For instance, aggravated domestic violence is a Class 5 felony offense punishable by up to two years and six months in prison for a first conviction. In addition to time in prison, significant fines, probation and community service, defendants who plead guilty or are convicted in Arizona domestic violence cases may face a number of other difficulties in the future as a consequence of their criminal record, possibly including a loss of employment prospects, housing opportunities and certain professional licenses.
Fighting Domestic Violence Charges in AZ
Fighting any type of criminal charge in Arizona can be stressful, frightening, and overwhelming, but defending yourself against domestic violence charges can be particularly challenging. Legally, you are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but there tends to be a natural bias when it comes to allegations of domestic violence or spousal abuse, and you may feel like you are fighting an uphill battle with no end in sight. This is especially unfortunate, given the fact that not every allegation of domestic violence in Arizona is based on fact. False accusations of domestic abuse are a common occurrence, especially in cases where ex-spouses are filing for divorce or battling for custody of their children. Whether the charges against you are true or false, a skilled domestic violence defense attorney will investigate every possible avenue of defense in order to build the strongest possible case on your behalf. Some possible defenses your attorney may present in your domestic violence case include the following:
- Mistaken identity/alibi
- False accusation
- Defense of others
- Illegal search and seizure
- Insufficient evidence
- No proof of intent
Domestic Violence Orders of Protection
Many domestic violence cases are further complicated by the alleged victim obtaining a restraining order against the accused. In Arizona, domestic violence restraining orders are known as orders of protection, or injunctions. If someone accuses you of domestic violence and the alleged victim petitions for an Emergency Order of Protection or an Injunction Against Harassment, you could find yourself served with a court order that prohibits you from contacting the alleged victim, committing further abuse, owning any firearms or possibly even entering your own home. Any time the police respond to a domestic violence call in Arizona, they have a duty to inform the alleged victim of his or her right to pursue a protective order against the accused. And if you violate the terms of a domestic violence restraining order, you could end up facing additional criminal charges under Arizona law.
A Skilled Arizona Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help
Things tend to move quickly in domestic violence cases, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed and even defeated, but it is important to remember that just because you have been charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty. You have important rights as a criminal defendant, including the right to an attorney, and there is no time to waste in safeguarding those rights. If you have been accused of domestic violence by a current or former spouse, dating partner, family member, or anyone else with whom you share a domestic relationship, your first priority should be to find a knowledgeable domestic violence defense attorney who can represent you in your criminal case. You need an attorney on your side who has successfully defended clients against Arizona domestic violence charges and, depending on your specific situation, has experience with cases that involve harassment, stalking, sexual assault, or assault and battery.