Domestic violence charges in Pima County and throughout Arizona, can be complicated, overwhelming, confusing, and may result in very serious consequences. Under Arizona law, domestic violence is not a specific crime, and can apply to a wide array of underlying offenses. The term “domestic violence,” under Arizona law, is a tag that describes the domestic relationship (i.e. husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, parent/child, etc.), of someone charged with an underlying crime. Assault, disorderly conduct, harassment, and other criminal charges are examples of underlying charges that could accompany the domestic violence tag.
A domestic violence conviction, even for a misdemeanor offense, can have a major negative impact on your life. Domestic violence convictions can prevent you from obtaining employment, possessing or carrying a gun, and/or renting a house or apartment. If you or a loved one have been charged with a domestic violence offense in Tucson, Pima County or anywhere else throughout Arizona, contact the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C., today for a free consultation.
Domestic Violence Law in Arizona
The relationship between the defendant and the victim determines whether or not the domestic violence offense will be applied to an underlying charge. According to Arizona law, many people could qualify as to having a domestic relationship, which could result in the domestic violence tag being added. According to A.R.S. 13-3601, the relationships that can be classified as domestic violence are as follows:
- The victim and the defendant are married or were married.
- The victim and the defendant live in the same household or used to live in the same household.
- The victim and the defendant have a child together.
- The victim is related to the defendant or the defendant’s spouse by blood or court order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, step-parent, step-grandparents, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.
- The victim is a child who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant and they are related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant.
- The relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously romantic or sexual.
What is Domestic Violence Court?
Prosecutors in Pima County prosecute domestic violence charges very intensely. In 2012, Pima County Attorney’s Office (“PCAO”) created the Domestic Violence Court. The Domestic Violence Court adjudicates misdemeanor domestic violence cases in the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court. In addition, this specialty court handles serious and repeat offenders with an emphasis on victim safety and rehabilitation. Domestic Violence Court is staffed with a team of specially-trained judges, attorneys, and victim advocates who ensure that defendants are closely monitored, the victims have access to comprehensive services, and that judges receive information necessary to make quick decisions.
Domestic Violence Diversion Program
The domestic violence diversion program provides first-time offenders an opportunity to participate in counseling rather than the criminal court system and establishing a criminal record. Through counseling and classes, defendant’s are guided toward alternative methods of managing and understanding the behavior that led to domestic violence. When a defendant successfully completes the diversion program they receive a dismissal of misdemeanor charge(s) from Tucson City Court, the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court, and many municipal courts in the surrounding areas.
It should be noted that diversion programs are operated by the prosecutor’s office which gives them complete discretion over how to administer the program and who to admit into it. Generally, the prosecutor will weigh in many factors on whether or not to offer diversion to a defendant. An experienced Tucson domestic violence attorney will work to convince the prosecutor that the defendant is deserving and qualified to enter the domestic violence diversion program. Successful completion of the diversion program, along with payment of all applicable program fees will result in a criminal case dismissal.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charges
Maximum Jail Sentences
Misdemeanors are classified into class 1, 2, and 3. Misdemeanor domestic violence sentences are determined by the classification of the misdemeanor. The maximum jail sentence for misdemeanors is the following:
Maximum Jail Sentences
Class 1 Misdemeanor = 6 months
Class 2 Misdemeanor = 4 months
Class 3 Misdemeanor = 30 days
The maximum fines for misdemeanors are as follows:
Class 1 Misdemeanor = $2,500
Class 2 Misdemeanor = $750
Class 3 Misdemeanor = $500
Maximum probation sentences
Maximum misdemeanor probation sentences are as follows:
Class 1 Misdemeanor = 3 years probation
Class 2 Misdemeanor = 2 years probation
Class 3 Misdemeanor = 1 year probation
Note: even a non-violent, misdemeanor conviction for a domestic violence can mean the permanent loss of your rights to possess and carry a firearm under both Arizona and federal law.
Repeat Domestic Violence Convictions
In the state of Arizona, if someone is convicted of two domestic violations within seven years, a third domestic violence offense is charged as a felony and carries a minimum sentence of four months in jail. If a defendant is found guilty and convicted of three domestic violations within seven years, the 4th offense will be charged as a felony and if convicted, the conviction carries a minimum sentence of eight months in jail.
Domestic Violence Statistics
Acts of domestic violence are far more common than you may think. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in five women and one in seven men report having been the victim of severe physical violence from an intimate partner at least once in their lifetimes. When it comes to sexual violence in a domestic setting, approximately 20% of women and 8.3% of men report have been victims. And one in ten women has reported being stalked by an intimate partner. The numbers in Arizona are fairly consistent with these national averages.
Frequently Asked Questions about Domestic Violence
These are some of the commonly asked questions by our clients.
If I’m still in a relationship with the victim, can I talk to them about the case?
While the temptation to convince an alleged victim to alter their story or to drop the charges against you can be overwhelming, this can get very tricky both legally and strategically. Any conversation about an incident can lead to new arguments and may end up backfiring. You may, in fact, strengthen their resolve. More importantly, without intending to, your actions may meet the legal definition of witness tampering, which is a new crime.
How long does a restraining order in AZ last?
In the state of Arizona, a protective order lasts for one year from the time that the respondent is served.
Can my alleged victim drop my charges?
No. In domestic violence cases, the state of Arizona brings charges against the accused. So, even if your accuser has a change of heart, the stat will decide whether or not to go forward.
Can I own a gun if I’m convicted of a domestic violence offense?
No. It is a felony to possess a firearm or ammunition if you’re convicted of a domestic violence crime. Possessing a firearm or ammunition after a conviction is a felony crime, separate from your original charge.
If you have additional questions about a domestic violence charge in Arizona, contact Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C.
Why Is It Important to Hire A Domestic Violence Attorney?
According to the Arizona Daily Star “In 2017, the Tucson Police Department made near 2,00 domestic-violent related arrests”. Pima County prosecutors take domestic violence charges very seriously. So much so, that in 2012, Domestic Violence Court, a specialty court, was created to prosecute domestic violence cases. A domestic violence conviction can have a negative impact on your life. A domestic violence conviction can take away your right to bear arms, make it difficult to obtain employment, and can prevent you from renting an apartment. A domestic violence conviction could also impact a divorce or child custody case. If you are charged or convicted of domestic violence a judge may revoke visitation or require supervised visitation with a child based on an allegation or conviction of domestic violence.
Call Us Today
Due to the serious consequences of even a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, it is important that you take your charge(s) seriously and speak with a seasoned domestic violence criminal defense attorney. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense in Pima County, contact the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C. for a free consultation.