Being accused of domestic violence in Arizona is a big deal. Although the word “domestic” may seem to soften the allegation, the truth is that courts view domestic violence as a serious offense and the penalties can be severe, ranging from misdemeanor to felony charges. Although being faced with such charges can be stressful, it’s important to keep your cool. Understanding what constitutes domestic violence in Arizona and the process of building up a defense and going through the court system will help you get through this difficult time a little easier. Here’s a quick primer on what you need to know about domestic violence in Arizona.
Understanding What Constitutes “Domestic” Violence
Throughout the years of working on domestic violence cases, the team at Schill Law Group has encountered many individuals who are confused by the term. As an example, an accused individual may not believe that his (or her) act should be considered “domestic” violence because the accuser is not his spouse. In reality, there are many different scenarios which can be considered domestic violence. In addition to violent acts occurring between spouses, the state of Arizona views the following types of situations to be domestic violence:
- When the parties were formerly married.
- When the parties have a child together or the alleged victim is pregnant with the accused’s child.
- The parties are related by blood or by law.
- The parties live in the same household or formerly lived in the same home.
- The parties are involved in a romantic or sexual relationship.
- Other similar situations as determined by law enforcement and/or the court system.
By this definition, acts of domestic violence can be carried out against siblings, children, boyfriends/girlfriends, or even in-law parents. Knowing this will help you understand why you have been accused of domestic violence and whether or not the charge is correct for your case. Be sure to inform your attorney of the exact nature of your relationship with the alleged victim so that your attorney can build the best argument for your defense.
Types of Domestic Violence
Assuming that the above criteria are met for a domestic relationship between an alleged victim and the accused, there are a number of offenses that are considered to be domestic violence. In fact, under ARS 13-3601, there are 29 different types of offenses that qualify. Again, understanding the different offenses can help you determine whether or not you have been wrongfully accused or if you are being falsely charged of domestic violence. Some of the many types of domestic violence offenses that are prosecuted in Arizona include:
- Negligent homicide
- First and Second Degree Murder
- Assault/Aggravated Assault
- Custodial Interference
- Sexual Assault
- Unlawful Imprisonment
- Criminal Trespass
- Criminal Damage
- Unlawful Distribution of Images
Understanding the Penalties for Domestic Violence
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” penalty for domestic violence in Arizona. The Arizona court system views each unique case carefully in order to determine how to proceed with criminal charges. The prosecution will gather the facts and, if he or she believes there is enough evidence against you to proceed, they will decide whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony.
Because the range of penalties is so great, and can include everything from fines to anger management classes to time in jail or prison, it’s critical that you hire an experienced attorney who can evaluate the specific facts as they pertain to your case and build the best argument in your defense.