A criminal charge of domestic violence carries a serious stigma, even when the incident is little more than a minor misunderstanding. The situation is even more difficult when the accuser is someone close to you.
Even if you made a mistake, an Arizona domestic violence charge is an area of law that the Arizona courts do not take lightly. You need a dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your side when you enter the courtroom, who is sympathetic to your circumstances – understands how the court is likely to prosecute – and how to defend against it.
What is Domestic Violence under Arizona Law?
Domestic violence doesn’t only apply to spouses. If the victim is…
- your child’s parent
- pregnant with your child
- your roommate
- your girlfriend or boyfriend
- your grandparent, parent, grandchild, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, step parent, or step child
…you may be charged with a domestic violence offense.
More details: Domestic Violence Offenses ARS 13-3601
Why did I get arrested even though the fight was mutual?
If an officer comes to a location where a domestic dispute has taken place he has to use his best judgment in making arrests, and the Arizona courts support him in this. If the officer believes that further violence or disruptions may take place if you are not removed, you can be arrested.
The police officer only has to have probable cause that some domestic violence act occurred and you were the person who committed it. They don’t have to witness anything first-hand.
While awaiting trial for a domestic violence charge an order of protection will probably be put in place by the court. This will require you to stay away from the alleged victim in the case. Violating this order can result in further criminal charges and jail time.
What offenses are considered “domestic”?
Several Arizona laws can be considered domestic violence offenses if there is a qualifying victim. These crimes are not all violent in nature. If you are suspected of committing one of the following and you have a domestic relationship with the victim , you could be considered a domestic violence offender:
Arizona Domestic Violence Penalties
If you are charged and found guilty of one of the offenses above, such as assault, you will face the potential sentence recommended by the Arizona sentencing guidelines for that particular charge. If you don’t have a prior record, typically criminal penalties are the same regardless of any domestic relationship between the accused and the victim.
That doesn’t mean the cases are the same. Criminal charges in Arizona with a domestic relationship are often prosecuted more aggressively. This is where your decision to get the best criminal defense lawyer to represent you can be critical.
If you are convicted of a second domestic violence offense you may be put on supervised probation and have to serve jail time as a condition of the probation.
Aggravated Domestic Violence
If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge for a third time (in an 84 month period) you can be charged with a felony and sentenced accordingly to prison time. Aggravated domestic violence is considered a Class 5 felony and carries up to 2 ½ years in prison for a first conviction.
See: Arizona Aggravated Domestic Violence Laws ARS 13-3601.02
Serious Domestic Assaults
If your charge involves serious bodily injury to the alleged victim or the use of a weapon, you may be charged with a far more weighty felony. Aggravated assault is a class 3 felony and carries a potential sentence of 5-15 years.
With any domestic violence conviction you will likely be required to attend a domestic violence treatment program.
The Arizona Criminal Court system takes domestic violence matters very seriously. If you are facing charges like these you are probably frightened of the uncertainty of your future. Now is not a time to leave your fate to chance, contact us for a consultation on your case.