The state of Arizona defines domestic violence as almost any criminal act of abuse committed by one “family or household member” against another. Many people, however, are unaware that domestic violence does not require an individual to incur a physical injury. This type of abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, control, or neglect.
One in four women and one in seven men have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Every situation is unique and it is natural that domestic abuse is extremely difficult to discuss.
In domestic violence cases, two things must be proven:
- The defendant has a “domestic relationship” with the victim as designated under Arizona law. It is important to keep in mind that domestic violence in Arizona is not just between spouses. An individual can be charged if they acted abusively toward a roommate, girlfriend or boyfriend, a sibling, a grandparent, or someone who is pregnant.
- The defendant committed one of the specific crimes listed in the Arizona laws of Domestic Violence. Actions and offenses that may be considered domestic violence and may result in criminal charges include, but are not limited to:
- Criminal Damage
- Violating a Protective Order
- Threats and Intimidation
- Disorderly Conduct
After the domestic abuse incident is reported to law enforcement, the victims do not have much of a say in what happens with their case. The ability to drop the charges rests solely in the prosecuting agencies hands. If the prosecutor wants to dismiss a case, that dismissal must be approved by a judge through a court order.
Domestic Violence Charges and Consequences
Penalties for a domestic violence offense will vary depending on the underlying offense. While listing the punishments for each underlying crime is impossible, all domestic violence convictions, even if is simply a disorderly conduct charge, require completion of a state-mandated counseling program. At a minimum, under Arizona law, a person convicted of a domestic violence offense must complete 26 sessions of domestic violence classes.
If found guilty, the most common penalties for a domestic violence conviction include:
- Monetary fines
- Jail time or prison
- Elimination of gun rights
- Restriction on communications with the victim
- Loss of child custody or visitation
In Arizona, one or more children witnesses a domestic violence incident every 44 minutes. Growing up in a violent home can have both short and long-term effect on a child’s mental health and emotional development.
Arizona courts view domestic violence as contrary to the best interests of the child. Judges are required to make the safety of the child and the victim the top priority in the case. In the most serious situations, the court may terminate or suspend a parent’s rights to be in contact with their minor child(ren).
If you are in an abusive relationship or a victim of domestic violence, and you want to get out of your situation, consider taking the following steps:
Make a plan. Speak with a discreet advocate. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline to find a local agency for help and find the appropriate resources for safety.
Seek a safe place. There are numerous emergency shelters for victims and children where you can be cared for during this difficult time.
Obtain legal assistance. While your first priority is safety and shelter, you will need a lawyer and guidance on taking steps to end the domestic violence situation.
Domestic violence is a very serious offense. Arizona domestic laws can be overwhelming and complicated. That is why it is essential to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. At West, Longenbaugh & Zickerman Attorneys at Law, we understand that contacting us regarding our family law services in a situation of domestic violence is not easy. But it is essential that you take the next step to protect yourself, your family members, and your loved ones.
There are specific laws in Arizona that can provide quick and effective protection to domestic violence victims. Our attorneys have experience in handling all family law issues, including when orders of protection (commonly referred to as restraining orders) are deemed necessary. At West, Longenbaugh & Zickerman, we have extensive combined legal experience representing family situations with integrity and compassion. If you are in a situation where there is any type of abuse, our law office can provide knowledgeable legal support and guidance.
We can help. Please call us now at (520) 790-7337 to end the cycle and protect your rights. You are not alone.