If you’ve been charged with a crime of domestic violence in Arizona, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential for serious consequences. You could face jail or prison, fines, probation, and a court-mandated course. Moreover, you may become the subject of a restraining order, and you will have a criminal record.
At the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C., our criminal defense lawyers represent individuals who have been charged with domestic violence in Tucson. Call today to discuss your domestic violence case.
What Domestic Violence Means in Arizona
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence under Arizona’s domestic violence laws, it means that the alleged victim shared a domestic relationship with you. Under ARS 12-3601, the following relationships would qualify:
- The parties are married or previously married.
- The parties reside or reside in the same household as a couple.
- The parties have a biological child in common.
- The alleged victim is blood-related to the defendant or the defendant’s spouse.
- The parties were involved in a sexual relationship that the court determines constitutes a domestic relationship. Various factors, such as the type of relationship, length of the relationship, etc., will influence the prosecutor’s decision to pursue a domestic violence conviction.
It’s important to note that domestic violence is not a separate charge. For law enforcement to charge you with a domestic crime, they must have probable cause for an underlying charge, like assault, sexual abuse, or kidnapping. If any of the above-described domestic relationships exist, they will add the “domestic violence” designator, which could affect the penalties you receive.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenses
The penalties for domestic violence charges are based on the underlying crime. For example, for an assault, the defendant can be charged with a Class One Misdemeanor. As is the case with a non-domestic case, the maximum sentence for a Class One Assault is six months in jail.
However, if you have two prior domestic violence convictions in seven years, it can be charged as “aggravated domestic assault,” which is an automatic felony even if the underlying charge is a misdemeanor.
If you’re facing domestic violence charges, however, there may be additional consequences:
- You’ll have a domestic violence charge on your criminal history
- If convicted, the judge may order you to attend a 26 or 52-week course.
- It can cause you to lose custody of your children — particularly if there is an incident of custodial interference.
- The classification of domestic violence appears on your criminal history.
Domestic Violence Defenses
There are several potential defenses that a criminal defense attorney can employ to help you avoid a domestic violence conviction. Here are some available defenses an Arizona domestic violence attorney can use to raise reasonable doubt – the standard for beating a domestic violence conviction:
When Tucson police officers investigate a domestic violence allegation, they seek to identify the primary aggressor, but that does not always mean they get the right party. In many cases, they apply domestic violence charges to a party acting in self-defense. You are not required to sustain physical abuse, and you’re allowed to use reasonable force to protect yourself against violence, which is a possible avenue of defense.
You have rights under the law. Just because the police are investigating a domestic violence case does not mean that they can illegally search for evidence, force you to answer questions, or coerce your testimony in any way. In some cases, the arresting officer will even mention the behavior that a judge would consider intimidating behavior or harassment in the police report, not realizing that this violates your rights.
The Victim Fails to Pursue Charges
The alleged victim or witnesses will decline prosecution in many Arizona domestic violence cases. It’s essential that you do not attempt to get the victim to drop charges, or you could face additional criminal charges.
Lack of Evidence
A witness statement alone is not usually enough to get a person convicted. There must be additional evidence to corroborate the prosecutor’s case. For example, if the victim has no visible signs of injury or the police don’t collect the evidence they used to base their decision to arrest, there might not be enough evidence to prosecute.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence in AZ
At the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C., we represent many defendants who have been arrested under Arizona domestic violence laws. Many defendants have similar questions about their criminal cases.
If you don’t find the answer to your question here, feel free to contact a domestic violence attorney at our Tucson office to discuss your case. Here are some frequently asked questions from clients and answers from a domestic violence lawyer.
Are domestic violence crimes misdemeanors or felonies?
They can be either, depending on the alleged actions of the accused. A criminal defense attorney in Tucson will be able to tell you the level of charges you’re facing.
Can an alleged victim get a restraining order on me after an incident?
Yes. Temporary restraining orders are rarely denied. If you are served with an injunction, it’s important that you don’t contact the alleged victim. This could lead to additional charges and adversely affect the outcome of future judicial proceedings.
Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers in Tucson, AZ
Like all Arizona crimes, you must take a domestic violence charge seriously. Your freedom and reputation are at stake. Contact a domestic violence attorney in Tucson from Hernandez & Hamilton to discuss your case and learn about common defense strategies that could be effective for you.