Arrested for Domestic Violence But You Didn’t Start the Fight

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In Arizona, being arrested for domestic violence is among the most overcharged types of offenses, and they carry significant penalties. Most domestic violence cases involve minor altercations between partners, spouses, or family members.

If the police are called on a report of potential domestic violence, they will arrest someone and charge them with a crime of domestic violence even if the victim doesn’t press charges.

The idea that a case will go away if the victim doesn’t press charges is a common misnomer. Prosecutors charge crimes, and it is not up to the victim to decide that they do not press charges. You can be charged even if the victim in your case doesn’t want the case against you to go forward.

Being charged with a crime and arrested for domestic violence can subject you to stigma. In some cases, people are charged with this offense when they were not the person who started the fight.

If you are facing domestic violence charges when the alleged victim is the one who hit you first, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at the Shah Law Firm.

We are experienced in handling cases involving domestic violence charges and are prepared to help you if you’ve been arrested for domestic violence.

Domestic Violence in Arizona

Many people think that domestic violence is a separate crime. However, that is not the case. Under ARS 13-3601, domestic violence is an enhancement that attaches to other offenses based on the relationship the defendant has with the alleged victim.

Any of the following crimes can be charged as crimes of domestic violence:

  • Assault (misdemeanor or aggravated)
  • Harassment (misdemeanor or aggravated)
  • Child/ Vulnerable adult abuse
  • Interference with custody
  • Criminal damage
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Dangerous crime against a child
  • Violating a restraining order
  • Endangerment
  • Sexual assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Homicide offenses
  • Stalking
  • Surreptitiously recording or photographing someone
  • Intimidation/threats
  • Revenge porn
  • Unlawful imprisonment

Most domestic violence offenses involve minor disputes or altercations between partners, spouses, or close family members.

Qualifying Relationships

For the police to charge a crime as an act of domestic violence, the defendant and the alleged victim must have one of the following relationships with each other:

  • Current/former spouses
  • People living together
  • People who share a child together
  • People who are pregnant with the other party’s baby
  • Family members, including children, parents, grandchildren, grandparents, in-laws, stepchildren, stepparents, step-grandchildren, and step-grandparents
  • Child victims related by blood to the former spouse of the defendant who also lives or lived in the same house as the defendant
  • Child victims who are related to someone who lives or lived with the defendant
  • People in a sexual relationship with each other

Man Questioned by Police for Domestic Violence

Common Charges With Domestic Violence Enhancements in Arizona

The most common charges that might have domestic violence enhancements in Arizona include disorderly conduct and assault. Under ARS 13-2904, you can be charged with disorderly conduct if you intentionally disturb someone else’s peace in one of the following ways:

  • Fighting or disruptive behavior
  • Making unreasonable noise
  • Using offensive gestures or language toward someone else that is likely to provoke them to retaliate
  • Trying to disrupt a gathering or meeting by taking certain actions
  • Refusing an officer’s order to disperse for safety reasons in an emergency
  • Possessing a deadly weapon while engaging in the conduct

Misdemeanor assaults are also common domestic violence charges. Under ARS 13-1203, you can be charged with assault with domestic violence if you cause a physical injury to someone with whom you have a qualifying relationship, place them in fear of being imminently injured, or touch them with the intention to provoke or injure them.

In many cases, a couple will get into a loud argument, and their neighbor will call the police. When the police arrive, they will separate the couple and question each one about what happened. When the police are called on a report of domestic violence, they will typically arrest one of the parties. In many cases, the man will be arrested for domestic violence even when the female partner was the one who started the fight.

Woman arrested for Domestic violence

Domestic Violence Jail Time Arizona

If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence for disorderly conduct, it will likely be a class 1 misdemeanor unless you had a deadly weapon at the time. If you had a deadly weapon, it will be charged as a class 6 felony.

A class 1 misdemeanor conviction for disorderly conduct carries the potential for six months in jail, up to five years of probation, and up to $2,500 in fines.

When it is charged as a class 6 felony, you could face up to 12 months in prison as your domestic violence jail time in Arizona.

When it’s charged as a domestic violence offense, it carries the same penalties for the domestic violence jail time Arizona as the underlying crime. However, having a domestic violence conviction on your record could cause problems in a child custody case, lead to substantial stigma, and result in a loss of your rights to possess weapons.

Assault involving the intentional infliction of a physical injury is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor.

If you are charged with assault based on placing the alleged victim in fear of imminent injury, it is a class 2 misdemeanor carrying up to four months in jail. If you are charged with assault for touching someone with the intention to provoke or harm them, it is a class3 misdemeanor carrying up to 30 days in jail.

Injured woman questioned by domestic violence

Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence charges frequently involve no witnesses other than the parties involved and are often he said/she said cases. However, your attorney will carefully review the evidence to determine the defenses that might be the best to raise in your case.

In a situation involving a fight, the most common defense to an assault or disorderly conduct charged as domestic violence is self-defense.

In many of these cases, the alleged victim is the one who starts the fight by hitting the defendant. Typically, alcohol might be involved. For example, if the alleged victim has been drinking and then pushes or slaps the defendant, causing the defendant to pull away, the victim might then fall down after losing their balance.

Defending against a domestic violence case will involve finding and interviewing witnesses, analyzing any physical evidence, looking for cameras that might have captured what happened, and presenting character evidence about the victim and the defendant.

If you were not the person who started the fight but instead simply tried to defend yourself, your lawyer can use that to defend you against an assault or disorderly conduct charge involving allegations of domestic violence.

Arrested for Domestic Violence? Speak to a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Defense Attorney Arja Shah If you have been arrested for domestic violence, you may understandably not know where to start. It is important for you to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.

Attorney Arja Shah can review what happened and help you understand your legal options and the defenses that might be available.

Contact the Shah Law Firm to schedule a consultation at 602-560-7408.

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