Is Domestic Violence A Felony In Arizona?

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Domestic violence is a serious crime that should never be taken lightly. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you could face harsh punishments including some that could have long-term consequences. The penalties for such crimes in Arizona are more strict if the offense is deemed to be a felony, which is a much more serious domestic violence charge than a misdemeanor.

Your response to such allegations should be swift and decisive. Any unnecessary delay can undermine your case. It also helps to have a solid understanding of domestic violence laws, so you can make informed decisions about how to tackle such claims. It is also best to hire a domestic violence lawyer early in the process so they can guide you on what steps to take to protect your rights.

Drunk Person with a Bottle in Their Hand Pointing at a Woman Holding Hiding Her Face with Her Hands

What is Considered Domestic Violence in Arizona? 

The state of Arizona defines domestic violence as any act of abuse committed by one household member or family against another. Not all domestic violence cases are violent in nature. For example, if one individual is found guilty of abusing the economic freedom of a household member, that could be considered domestic violence.

The most common types of domestic violence cases include assault and battery, sexual assault, kidnapping, disorderly conduct, stalking and intimidation, verbal abuse, threats of violence, and other types of abusive actions or behaviors.

Felony Charge for a Domestic Violence Offense in Arizona 

An individual can be charged with a felony if they are a repeat offender of domestic violence or if there are aggravating factors in the case. Generally, a third or subsequent domestic violence conviction within a seven-year period means there is enough criminal history to charge the individual with a felony. Even if the prior convictions were misdemeanor offenses, a person can still be charged with a felony if they have a history of domestic violence.

Aggravating factors such as committing domestic violence in the presence of a minor or if the domestic violence led to severe injuries to the victim can also result in a felony charge.

Penalties For Felony Domestic Violence Charges In Arizona 

The penalties for a domestic violence charge depend on several factors, including whether the victim was a minor, the severity of the injuries, the use of deadly force or a weapon, or prior convictions.

A class 1 misdemeanor sentence is the most severe misdemeanor charge for a domestic violence offense. It can result in up to six months in jail and fines up to $2,500.

The felony sentencing starts at class 5 and goes up to class 2. Even for a first-time offender, a class 5 felony can lead to 2.5 years in prison. So a felony is a serious offense, even if it results in a class 5 sentence. The sentencing for repeat offenses or aggravated domestic violence can be severe.

The most severe penalties are in domestic violence cases that involve a fatality, serious bodily injury, or if there is battery toward an endangered adult or someone with a disability.  An endangered adult, according to Arizona Law, is anyone with a mental illness, such as dementia, a developmental disability, or another incapacity that prevents them from managing their self-care or property. In some cases, battery against a child can also result in a Class 2 felony.

As there is a wide range of potential penalties associated with a domestic violence charge, it is vital that you consult an attorney to understand the consequences and prepare a solid legal defense to fight the charges.

Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence Cases in Arizona 

The statute of limitations is the legal limit within which the victim must initiate a legal claim or lawsuit. If the individual fails to file charges within the specified time frame, they could lose their right to file a claim or lawsuit.

In Arizona, the statute of limitations for domestic violence cases depends on the classification of the offense. Misdemeanor domestic violence offenses have a 1-year statute of limitations. A felony offense has a 7-year statute of limitations.

Legal Defense For Domestic Violence Charges

If you are facing domestic violence charges, you could have multiple options to defend the charges. However, your best legal defense depends on the specifics of your case. For example, if you have evidence that the accuser has leveled false allegations against you, you could use that as a solid defense to the felony charges.

You could also use a credible alibi to prove that you were either not present when the crime occurred or it was not you who committed the crime. In some cases, a legal strategy that involves self-defense could also work if you can prove that you were attempting to protect yourself or others from harm.

The judgment of the arresting officer is vital to determining the level of charge for a domestic violence offense. Law enforcement officials only need to have probable cause that a domestic violence case has occurred to make an arrest. They don’t have to witness the incident first-hand. However, you can challenge the testimony of the arresting officer if you have evidence that they were either mistaken or not being truthful in their judgment.

In some cases, domestic violence accusations are greatly exaggerated. You might be able to prove a lack of physical or mental harm to the accuser. However, this is often challenging to prove in court.

Person Holding Belt With the Victim in the Background

Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you face a situation where there is a domestic violence felony charge against you, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. They will guide you on the steps to take to protect your rights and your best legal options to defend against a criminal offense. If you want to consult an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney, you can contact us at the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton. We give our complete attention and dedication to every case, ensuring our clients get the best possible outcome. Call us today for a free consultation for your domestic violence case.

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