Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona
If you face domestic violence charges in Arizona, you are entitled to legal representation before a court of law. Domestic violence encompasses many activities and is typically associated with other crimes, such as physical assault, harassment, sexual assault, and stalking. The associated crimes can determine the classification and penalties for the domestic violence charges you face.
A domestic violence lawyer who handles domestic violence cases can help you understand the charges you face and determine your next legal steps.
Definition of Domestic Violence in Arizona
Arizona law defines domestic violence as a dangerous crime committed against a child, spouse, former spouse, romantic partner, or another relative who resides or resided with the alleged perpetrator. Under state law, a perpetrator may receive a domestic violence charge when the case includes some element of assault (physical or sexual) or endangerment, among other criminal activities.
Assault or endangerment can include:
- Physical violence, which may include kicking, hitting, pushing, biting, scratching, burning, cutting, and disfigurement. Assault can also include putting someone in danger of physical violence, such as by throwing a bottle toward their head.
- Sexual violence, which may include non-consensual sexual activity with a spouse or other member of the household, or any sexual activity between an adult and a minor
While perpetrators may only receive a domestic violence charge under those specific conditions under law, domestic violence can also involve many forms of partner abuse. While many of these behaviors do not lead to criminal charges, they can signal a perpetrator’s potential for physical violence.
These behaviors may include:
- Psychological abuse, which includes belittling behavior, controlling behavior, stalking, intimidation, and isolation
- Verbal abuse, such as shouting, screaming, name-calling, constant criticism, and verbal threats
- Financial abuse, which includes controlling all financial transactions, refusing financial support to household members, and fraudulently applying for financing or credit using another household member’s information without their knowledge or permission
What Happens When Police Are Called for a Domestic Violence Incident?
If someone calls the authorities to report domestic violence, police can arrest the alleged perpetrator if they have probable cause to believe that domestic violence occurred. Then, if the arresting officer can establish probable cause through witness statements, statements from the alleged victim, or other evidence, the state can press criminal charges for domestic violence. Even if the accuser retracts their accusations, the state can pursue charges with probable cause.
If you face criminal charges for domestic violence, you have the right to speak with an attorney’s team before making a statement or undergoing an interview with authorities. A criminal justice lawyer specializing in Arizona domestic violence cases can learn more about your case and help you learn more about your legal rights.
Other Crimes Associated With Arizona Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence charges in Arizona often come with other charges. For instance, if someone physically assaults their spouse, the accused individual could face domestic violence and aggravated assault charges. They could face penalties consistent with assault if convicted.
You should note that when domestic violence occurs in addition to another violent crime, such as assault, the penalties are typically more severe, with a greater chance of high fines, jail time, and other penalties.
Crimes often associated with Arizona domestic violence charges include:
- Stalking, threatening, and kidnapping
- Criminal trespass
- Murder, homicide, and manslaughter
- Assault and aggravated assaultSexual assault
- Disorderly conduct
- Unlawful discharge of firearms
- Misconduct involving weapons
A domestic violence attorney in Arizona can help you build a defense tailored to the charges you face and the particular facts surrounding your case.
Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona
If you were arrested and charged with domestic violence, the state must meet a high burden of proof to prove its case.
Specifically, they must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You engaged in domestic violence consistent with the definition under Arizona law.
- You currently or previously engaged in a domestic relationship with the alleged victim. This may include a romantic partner, spouse, child, relative, or domestic partner.
Your domestic violence attorney can aim to find the weak points in the state’s case to have charges dropped or reduced. Then, your attorney can tailor your defense specifically to your case’s details.
Some defenses you could use against domestic violence charges include:
- The state has insufficient evidence to show that domestic violence occurred.
- You have an alibi or other proof that you were not present at the time of the alleged violence.
- The state mistook your identity, or they have insufficient evidence to prove your identity as the perpetrator of domestic violence.
- You committed violence to defend yourself or others.
- Police engaged in misconduct or committed procedural errors during the investigation, including coercion, entrapment, illegal search and seizure, and violations of Miranda Rights.
Arizona Penalties for Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can be a misdemeanor or felony. Penalties for misdemeanor charges include fines of $2,500 and six months of imprisonment. Felony penalties often involve much steeper fines and lengthier time behind bars. Depending on the category of felony, perpetrators of dangerous crimes could face up to 35 years of imprisonment. If the defendant has prior convictions for domestic violence, they may also receive a felony charge, which comes with higher fines and potential prison time.
If they have concerns about the well-being of the alleged victim, the judge may also grant an Order of Protection or issue an Injunction Against Harassment.
According to Arizona law, an Order of Protection (or a restraining order) provides specific guidelines for contact between the accuser and the accused.
Such guidelines may include:
- Limiting how close the accused can come to the alleged victim and others in the household
- Limiting verbal or written contact in person, by phone, by email, or through other means
- Restricting the defendant’s access to firearms
If you receive a domestic violence charge, you may face a temporary order to stay away from a shared residence or avoid contact with your spouse, children, or other household members. While an emergency protection order will often expire within a few days, the alleged victim can request to extend the time frame.
Injunction Against Harassment
Similar to an Order of Protection, an Injunction Against Harassment limits specific contact between the accuser and accused in a domestic violence case. Limitations vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your case but typically prohibit the accused from speaking to, harassing, intimidating, or frightening the accuser through actions or words.
What Happens if You Violate a Protection Order?
If you face domestic violence charges, you must follow all orders and injunctions issued by the court. If you have questions about going about normal activities while such orders are in place, speak with your attorney’s team.
The consequences for violating a protection order or injunction can prove severe and may include:
- Immediate arrest
- Jail time
- Additional criminal charges
- Fines with an additional surcharge
Rather than potentially violating a restraining order, speak with your attorney’s team to discuss whether you can have the order or injunction amended or dismissed. A domestic violence lawyer in Arizona can help you understand your legal options.
Other Ramifications of an Arizona Domestic Violence Conviction
When someone faces a domestic violence conviction in Arizona, whether a misdemeanor or felony charge, the conviction remains on their criminal record. A negative conviction on your criminal record can create serious problems in every aspect of your life.
A conviction for domestic violence will appear on your background checks. Employment applications, apartment applications, mortgage applications, and car loans often require a criminal background check. As a result, you could lose job opportunities or find it difficult to obtain housing. In addition, your right to own a firearm may be rescinded, depending on your conviction circumstances. You could also lose rights to visitation or custody of your children. A felony conviction can also cost you your right to vote in elections.
When facing the severe consequences of domestic violence charges in Arizona, you may want to work with an attorney familiar with domestic violence cases in your area. An Arizona criminal defense lawyer can help you build a defense to reduce or eliminate charges before they can negatively affect your livelihood.
You Can Hire an Attorney Who Knows Domestic Violence Cases in Arizona
You may want to retain an Arizona attorney specializing in domestic violence law to protect your rights and fight for you. Every case has different factors, so you likely want a lawyer familiar with the appropriate laws, regulations, investigative procedures, and case law.
When you work with a lawyer with experience handling domestic violence charges in Arizona, you gain an ally who can work in good faith to represent your best interests. A criminal defense lawyer can make every attempt to have your charges dismissed. However, if the facts of your case prevent dismissal, they can work to reduce the severity of your charges and the associated penalties.
In addition, your domestic violence attorney can:
- Ask the court to release you on bond
- Ask the court to reduce your bond
- Conduct a thorough investigation of your case to find evidence of errors or misconduct
- Dispute questionable evidence
- Cross-examine witnesses to find weaknesses or inconsistent testimony
- Conduct negotiations for a plea bargain to reduce charges and penalties
When you face arrest for domestic violence charges, you will go to the police station to remain in custody at the county jail. You can expect to make an initial appearance before a judge within 24 hours of the arrest. At that time, the judge will determine whether you can go on bail and if you must adhere to a protection order, among other release conditions.
You may want to call a domestic violence lawyer’s team right away to protect your legal right to fair representation consistent with your Sixth Amendment rights. Your lawyer can help you negotiate bail conditions and advocate for you during the arraignment hearing. They will handle the legal filings associated with your case and attend any hearings and trial dates with you. In addition, they will compile evidence and conduct the investigations necessary to build your defense.
Appealing a Prior Conviction for Domestic Violence
A domestic violence conviction can have severe long-term effects. If you have already received a conviction, an attorney can help you mitigate the consequences in a few ways.
If you received a previous conviction on domestic violence charges, you could appeal the ruling if:
- New evidence becomes available that could exonerate you.
- You feel unhappy with the way the previous attorney handled your case.
- The police, a state prosecutor, or the court mishandled your case.
A criminal defense attorney who handles domestic violence cases can review your case and advise whether you have grounds for an appeal. If so, they can file a motion to appeal and represent you in your case.
Setting Aside or Sealing a Domestic Violence Arrest Record or Conviction
Another way to reduce the consequences of your domestic violence conviction is to file to have the conviction set aside or sealed. Arizona law indicates that a judgment can be set aside if the convicted individual meets certain conditions. If the court sets aside the judgment, you get released from the penalties and disabilities associated with your conviction, including dismissing your conviction on your criminal record.
You can also seek to have records of your domestic violence arrest sealed. Arizona law allows you to request that the records be sealed if you were arrested but not charged, if the domestic violence charges were dismissed, or if you were found not guilty during a criminal trial.
A domestic violence attorney in Arizona can review your case and advise whether you have grounds to petition to set your conviction aside or have your records sealed. Unfortunately, the courts do not always grant these options, so you may want to have a criminal defense lawyer handle your case from the outset.
You Can Contact a Phoenix Domestic Violence Attorney’s Team to Learn More
A conviction for domestic violence can create significant difficulties for the rest of your life. To ensure that you have someone fighting for you, you can reach out to an Arizona domestic violence lawyer’s team.