Understanding Charges of Domestic Violence in Arizona
In Arizona, you can be charged with a domestic violence offense when you are charged with any number of prohibited criminal offenses and the alleged victim has a specific type of relationship with you.
For example, you can be charged with a domestic violence assault when you are accused of committing an assault against your spouse, ex-spouse, child, someone with who you live, or someone with whom you have a sexual or romantic relationship.
Domestic violence charges act as a sentencing enhancer for the underlying offense with which you are charged and can result in serious consequences. If you are facing domestic violence charges, you should get legal help as soon as possible from an experienced criminal defense lawyer at the Shah Law Firm.
What are the Domestic Violence Laws in Arizona?
Domestic violence is defined in A.R.S. § 13-3601. Under this statute, you can be charged with domestic violence when you share a specific type of relationship with the alleged victim, including the following:
Your spouse or ex-spouse
Your child’s other parent
Your close family relative
A child who lives or who formerly lived in your home and who is your spouse’s child
Your current or former romantic or sexual partner
Domestic violence may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on your record and your underlying offense. Continue reading below about what types of actions constitute domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Charges are Serious
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People oftentimes might assume that domestic violence only involves physical violence. However, there are multiple types of domestic violence or other times referred to as domestic abuse. So just what are the types of domestic violence charges that you can be accused of in court?
Physical Domestic Abuse
Physical abuse is the type of abuse most commonly associated with domestic violence. Slapping, punching, biting, strangling, kicking, shoving, hitting with a blunt object, wounding with a sharp object, pinching, hair-pulling, and other forms of unwanted physical contact all qualify as physical abuse.
According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), there are an estimated 10 million people a year that are filing charges of being abused physically by an intimate partner.
Psychological Domestic Abuse
An individual may file a domestic violence complaint against another member of the household who threatens to harm, intimidate, and isolate him or her on a regular basis. Such threats constitute psychological abuse.
Threatening harm to property, even pets, and trying to control every aspect of an individual’s life may also be seen as psychological abuse.
Sexual abuse in a domestic situation often connotes marital rape, where a person forces sex on his or her partner. However, domestic sexual abuse also includes sexual harassment, forcing the spouse to have sex with other people, or any unwanted, sexually-charged physical, verbal, or non-verbal conduct.
It’s also possible for a man, woman, or child in a household to claim emotional abuse if they are relentlessly targeted by another member with relentless name-calling, insults, and criticism on a regular basis. However, building a domestic violence case around emotional abuse can prove to be tricky, a fact known to a skilled domestic violence lawyer. To file a stronger domestic violence case, the supposed victim typically may need to claim physical abuse as well.
Economic or Financial Abuse
An individual may not be physically hurting other members of the household, but limiting their access to finances can be interpreted as economic or financial abuse, which can provide them a basis for a domestic violence complaint. Withholding cash and blocking credit card use is seen as financial abuse.
So is forcing them to work, turn over their paychecks, getting them terminated from their jobs, and brazenly preventing them from getting another job.
It is common for a household to have members who have differing religious views but stopping another from practicing his or her religious or spiritual beliefs could be grounds for a domestic case. Ridiculing another family member for his or her beliefs may also be seen as spiritual abuse.
Additional Charges that can be Stacked with Domestic Violence
Domestic violence charges may be filed together with other charges that you are facing for many different offenses in Arizona, including the following:
Dangerous crime against a child
Criminal threats or intimidation
Misdemeanor or felony assault
Criminal disclosure of sexual photographs
Criminal damage to property
Interference with emergency telephone communications
Telephone, text, or email harassment or intimidation
Secretly videotaping or recording
Child or elder abuse
When you are charged with domestic violence and one of these underlying offenses, a conviction may be a misdemeanor or felony and carry the potential for jail or prison, stiff fines, and other consequences.
Contact Shah Law Firm today if you have been searching “defense attorney near me” with the compassion, skills, experience, and passion to provide you with the DUI defense you deserve.
Penalties & Fines for Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charges
Because domestic violence can carry very serious consequences and fines, it is absolutely important that you have an truly experienced criminal defense attorney to fight on your behalf. If you find yourself in a position without a solid defense, you might find yourself in a devastating situation!
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense that is classified as an act of domestic violence, you can face the standard penalties of the class of misdemeanor for which you have been convicted. The potential penalties for misdemeanor convicts are found in A.R.S. § 13-707 and A.R.S. § 13-802 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
If you are convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor offense involving domestic violence, you can face up to six months in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, the potential of up to three years of probation, and the potential of community service.
If you are convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor offense involving domestic violence, you can face up to four months in jail, probation for up to two years, a fine of up to $750, and community service.
If you are convicted of a class 3 misdemeanor offense involving domestic violence, you can face up to 30 days in jail, probation for up to one year, a fine of up to $500, and community service.
Most domestic violence convictions will require people to complete domestic violence classes as a condition of their probationary sentences. Convictions involving domestic violence can also prevent you from possessing or owning firearms. Depending on your career, this can result in losing your job.
For example, military service members, security guards, and police officers might all lose their jobs after a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction because of both the conviction and the prohibition against owning or carrying firearms.
Penalties & Fines for Felony Domestic Violence Charges
Under A.R.S. § 13-3601(M), if you are convicted of a felony act of domestic violence against a pregnant woman who you knew was pregnant, the maximum penalty for the underlying offense will be increased by two years. Under A.R.S. § 13-3601.02, aggravated domestic violence is a felony that can be charged if you are convicted of domestic violence under § 13-3601 three or more times within 7 years. A conviction of aggravated domestic violence is a class 5 felony.
If you are convicted of aggravated domestic violence with two prior misdemeanor domestic violence convictions within the past 7 years, you may be sentenced to the following penalties:
Probation with four months to one year in jail
Prison sentence from six months up to two and one-half years
Fine of up to $150,000
If you have three previous misdemeanor domestic violence convictions within the past seven years, you can face the following potential penalties:
Probation with eight months to one year in jail
Prison sentence from six months to two and one-half years
Fine of up to $150,000
If you are convicted of aggravated domestic violence and have one prior felony conviction, the prison-only range will be increased to a minimum of 1 year, up to 3.75 years.
If you have two prior felony convictions, the prison range will be increased to a minimum of 3 years, up to 7.5 years.
Common Defenses to Charges of Domestic Violence
The defenses that your attorney might raise to fight the charges against you will depend on the facts of what happened in your case. Some of the most common types of defenses that are raised in cases involving domestic violence include the following:
Someone else committed the offense.
The alleged victim lied.
The incident was accidental.
You were acting in self-defense.
The prosecutor has insufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof.
The police committed errors in their investigation that should result in the evidence being suppressed.
If your defense is that someone, other than you, committed the act of domestic violence against the victim, your defense lawyer can carefully review the evidence to see if anything indicates that you were present. For example, if your voice can be heard in the background of a 911 call, this defense will not be available to you. However, if you have witnesses to establish a strong alibi that shows you were somewhere else, your alibi might result in your charges being dismissed.
While most domestic violence victims tell the truth about what happened to them, there are some cases in which the alleged victims of domestic violence falsely report the crimes. They might do this to secure a better position in a pending child custody or divorce case or simply to get revenge against the defendant for some other act. In this type of scenario, your defense lawyer might review your family law case and talk to witnesses that might have inside knowledge about the relationship between you and the alleged victim.
If you claim that the incident was accidental and that you did not have the required mental state, your defense lawyer will compare your story to the evidence to see if it is consistent. If the prosecutor is unable to prove the required mental state for the underlying offense, your charges might be dismissed.
Self-defense is a common defense to domestic violence charges. You can raise self-defense as an affirmative defense in cases in which the alleged victim was the aggressor and you simply acted to defend yourself against imminent harm. Self-defense can only be raised when the degree of force that you used was appropriate for the threatened harm.
If the police made mistakes during the investigation of your case, your attorney can file motions to suppress some or all of the evidence. For example, if you were arrested and were not read the Miranda warnings before you were interrogated, your lawyer might be able to get any incriminating statements that you made and any evidence the police gathered as a result of them suppressed. Your attorney might also be able to get your statements suppressed if the police denied your right to remain silent or your right to an attorney and continued to question you after you asserted your rights.
Many potential defenses might be raised, depending on the circumstances surrounding your underlying charge. For example, if the police entered your home without a warrant when the circumstances didn’t amount to an emergency, all of the evidence may be suppressed from the search. Your attorney might work with experts to review any injuries and determine whether they might have been caused by something other than what the victim has claimed. Blood, fingerprints, video, and many other types of evidence might be relevant and important to your case.
A very common tactic for defense lawyers is to use cross-examination to expose how the police have mishandled a case. For example, officers sometimes use flawed witness identification procedures or include misstatements in their police reports. A skilled defense lawyer at the Shah Law Firm can recognize problems with the police investigation and cross-examine the officers to show the weaknesses of the state’s case.
Speaking to an Attorney About Domestic Violence or Domestic Abuse Charges
If you are charged with a crime involving domestic violence or domestic abuse, you should retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Whether your offense is a misdemeanor or a felony, a domestic violence conviction can have lasting consequences on your life.
Arizona defense attorney Arja Shah at the Shah Law Firm can review the evidence in your case and aggressively defend you against your charges. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at (602) 560-7408.