Arizona Domestic Violence Charges

If you are charged with domestic violence in the city of Phoenix or elsewhere in the state of Arizona, your first instinct might be to try to talk with your accuser. After all, many domestic violence cases involve family members or other people to whom you are probably very close, and it might seem like something that you should be able to resolve without involving the police or the courts.

Unfortunately, by the time you have been charged with a crime, they are already involved. Speaking with anyone about the charges – let alone the police or the alleged victim or victims – can seriously damage your case. That is why you want an experienced Phoenix domestic violence defense attorney on your side as early in the process as possible. He or she can advise you on how your behavior might impact the case, and together you can create a plan for your defense.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Arizona

Arizona believes domestic violence to be a serious problem, and as such, the state takes charges of domestic violence very seriously. Generally speaking, when a charge that includes violence involves a victim who is the defendant’s family member or a member of their household (like a roommate), it is classified as a domestic violence charge and covered under Arizona’s family violence laws. But depending on the circumstances, domestic violence charges in Arizona can even apply to former partners or people who are just dating. Different kinds of crimes that can be classified as domestic violence include:

  • Child abuse
  • Verbal and physical assault
  • Elder abuse
  • Physical or sexual battery
  • False imprisonment
  • Sexual assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated harassment
  • Sexual assault of a minor
  • Violating a restraining order or an order of protection
  • Aggravated stalking
  • Aggravated harassment
  • Murder

As you can see, domestic violence charges encompass a wide array of other crimes. And because in recent years Arizona has been attempting to get tougher with domestic violence, the legislature has concentrated on strengthening the state’s laws on these types of crimes and how they are prosecuted. Even if the offense seems like an incredibly minor one – like an attempt to call a child or ex after a restraining order has been filed – the state may still decide to prosecute the case.

Charges and Penalties for Arizona Domestic Violence

Because there is such a huge number of crimes that can be considered domestic violence, the charges and penalties someone might face will depend upon the specific circumstances of their case. That being said, it is common in Arizona for first-time domestic violence offenders to receive probation and complete a counseling program for domestic violence. Some may also serve a couple of days in custody or have to go through a domestic violence diversion program as an alternative to being prosecuted.

Those penalties might not sound very severe, but keep in mind that domestic violence charges are on top of whatever charges you will face for the actual crime, be it an assault or a murder. Also remember that the penalties above are for a first-time offender. Domestic violence convictions for some crimes can far more serious, including:

  • A loss or limitation of your child visitation rights
  • Loss of gun privileges
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Probation
  • Jail time
  • A prison sentence

If your case involves the use of any weapons or injury to another person, it will most likely be prosecuted as a felony – charges that almost always include penalties of jail or prison time.

Worse, if you try to make things better by talking to the alleged victim or victims, it is possible you might do the opposite and make things a lot worse. This kind of behavior can even result in additional charges against you. And it may not even matter if the alleged victim has a change of heart and decides they don’t want to press charges anymore – because of the state’s attempt to get tougher on domestic violence, Arizona prosecutors have the right to file charges against you themselves, whether or not the alleged victim wants to be involved.

The best way for you to receive a positive outcome in your case is to get an experienced Phoenix domestic violence attorney on your side as soon as possible. Only someone with extensive knowledge of Arizona’s domestic violence laws and experience dealing with cases like yours will be able to lead you through the legal confusion and build a defense to get your charges reduced, or even dismissed altogether.

By Michael Munoz

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