Many innocent people are accused of domestic violence and face not only criminal prosecution, but also damage to their reputation in the community. If you are facing charges of domestic violence, you should contact experienced criminal defense attorneys as soon as you can, to keep your record clean and keep you out of jail.

Ever since the first laws against domestic violence were enacted in Arizona back in 1980, the laws have been expanded to include additional criminal violations and increased penalties. Depending on the relationship between the victim and the defendant, several crimes that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence.

What Is Domestic Violence?

Under Arizona revised statute 13-3601, domestic violence includes:

  • Homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Endangerment
  • Assault
  • Threats or intimidation
  • Aggravated assault
  • Custodial interference
  • Unlawful imprisonment
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual assault
  • Unlawful distribution of nude images
  • Trespassing
  • Harassment
  • Stalking

For domestic violence to apply to the above criminal charges, the victim and defendant must have a relationship that falls within the statutory description. This includes current or former married couples and people living in the same household. It also includes individuals who have a child in common and those expecting one. Domestic violence charges can involve anyone who is related by blood or marriage or other court order. Individuals with a past or current romantic or sexual relationship are also included.

Protective Order In Arizona

A protective order is issued by the court to restrict another person from committing a violent or threatening act or restrict contact or other communication. The court must issue an order of protection if it determines there is reasonable cause to believe the defendant may commit an act of domestic violence. After someone is arrested, the police provide the alleged victim with information on seeking a protective order. Violating a protective order can result in jail time for the offender, even if he or she never even touched the protected individual.

Penalties For Domestic Violence

Even before an individual is found guilty of domestic violence, the court may require the defendant to participate in a counseling program. The police will also provide the alleged or potential victim with information about how to seek a protective order. These are some of the ways people accused of domestic violence are penalized before they are ever found guilty.

A conviction for a domestic violence offense can include additional penalties over those imposed by the underlying offense. A domestic violence conviction may require the defendant to complete an offender treatment program. If an offender has two misdemeanor domestic violence convictions within a five-year period, he or she may be incarcerated and placed on supervised release to go to work or attend school.

A third domestic violence offense within a seven-year period is considered aggravated domestic violence, which is a class 5 felony. This will result in a minimum of four months in prison. A fourth domestic violence offense will result in a minimum eight-month sentence.

Additional penalties may be involved, depending on the victim and the specific facts of the case. Domestic violence involving a victim known to be pregnant may result in an additional two years tacked onto the defendant's prison sentence.

Other penalties for a domestic violence charge may include restrictions on gun ownership, restrictions on child custody and parenting time, and other restrictions that go along with a felony conviction. Under ARS 13-904, a felony conviction can restrict an individual's rights to vote, hold public office and serve as a juror.

Federal Domestic Violence Offenses

In some cases, domestic violence can be charged as a federal offense. Federal crimes are generally handled by federal prosecutors, and individuals sentenced will serve their time in a federal penitentiary. Under the Violence Against Women Act, stalking or harassment where the defendant crosses state lines may be prosecuted as a federal offense. Any domestic violence offense that occurs across state lines or where an individual or the victim crosses state lines could potentially be charged as a federal crime.

Defenses To Domestic Violence Charges

In many cases, the police may rely only on an alleged victim's statement that he or she was harassed or harmed by the alleged perpetrator. Some cases of domestic violence have little to no evidence that the individual accused actually committed the crime. Often, defendants charged with domestic violence will rely on their innocence, hoping that justice will prevail because they didn't do anything wrong. Unfortunately, innocent people are convicted of crimes all the time. An experienced criminal defense team will fight for your rights and your freedom, no matter what charges you are facing.

Some domestic violence cases involve disputes over child custody, allegations of infidelity or the stress of a breakup or divorce. These situations can be tense and emotional. This may cause some people to react in ways they normally wouldn't, including making threats or harming someone else. However, it can also lead people to make up allegations of abuse. People can mislead police and prosecutors for all kinds of reasons, including to gain child custody or punish someone they think has mistreated them.

If the alleged victim made false statements or allegations about abuse or violence, our experienced Arizona criminal defense attorneys can identify the lies and inconsistencies in the accuser's statements. They can also call witnesses to verify the defendant's statements and dispute the accuser's allegations.

How To Reach Us

At West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman P.L.L.C., we can answer your questions. Our offices are located in Tucson, Arizona. Call us at 520-518-3781 or contact us online.