Domestic violence is essentially any form of violence committed against a member of your household. It includes offenses involving sexual assault, battery, stalking, or manipulation of someone that lives in your home. This can include family members, relatives, or roommates. Violating an order of protection (commonly known as a “restraining order”) can also constitute an act of domestic violence. In this post, we will explain some general facts about domestic violence and provide tips about how to handle being charged with domestic violence.
There are a lot of public misconceptions when it comes to domestic violence charges. Here are a few things we want you to understand in case you are ever charged with domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Charges Misconceptions
- The victim does not bring the charges: As soon as the police arrive at the scene of a domestic violence incident, the victim is no longer in charge of the case. The state takes control as soon as the police arrive. This means that even if the victim wishes to drop the charges, they don’t have the power to do so. The state will continue in pursuing charges regardless of what the victim wishes to do. Even if the victim decides not to testify, the state may still continue with the case.
- Punishments: Generally, domestic violence is classified as a misdemeanor. However, it can be upgraded to a felony if the offense is especially serious or if the defendant has previous domestic violence criminal charges on their record. In Arizona, the punishments for domestic violence include six months of jail time, a $2,500 fine, a few years of probation, and mandatory classes. Many-times, first-time offenders are only required to serve one day in jail and do not have to pay fines. The law does not mandate that first-time offenders receive less punishment. So, you need to make sure your behavior justifies minimized punishments.
If you are ever charged with domestic violence, you do not want it to stay on your record. Your reputation and career could be negatively affected. You could have parenting time and legal decision-making of any of your minor children impacted. Here are our tips to help you navigate a domestic violence charge and hopefully prevent it from tainting your record.
3 Tips On How To Deal With It
- Don’t talk to the police without the advice of an attorney: When the police arrive at the scene, many people try to talk their way out of the situation. They give details of the situation, say that it has been resolved, and tell the police they can leave. While this may seem like an easy way to avoid charges, you may actually be giving the police evidence against you. Once the police arrive, the victim is no longer the only one pursuing criminal the charges. At that point, it is the state of Arizona. So, when the police do arrive, you should not provide them with details about the situation. Remain quiet and tell them you want to consult with an attorney.
- Miranda Rights: When your court makes it to court, it is important that you have considered your defenses. If you did spill the details of the situation to the police, then this defense may help you. When the police arrive at the scene, they should advise you of your Miranda Rights, which say you have the right to remain silent because anything you say can be used against you in court, and that you have a right to an attorney. If the police officers fail to read you these rights, yet continue probing you with questions, what you say to them may not be deemed admissible in court. If they did read you your Miranda Rights and you talked anyway, then this defense will not apply.
- Follow your court orders: If you receive a no-contact order, at that point it is illegal for you to communicate with the alleged victim. Under no circumstances should you visit, call, or send them a text message. If you violate that, you could easily be charged with an additional domestic violence crime. Instead, you should attempt to get it changed to an order that allows communication. The court system will usually work with you on this, especially if both parties wish to communicate. Whatever order you may have, even if it is difficult to follow, it is important that you do not commit another crime by breaking it.
If you are faced with a domestic violence, experienced attorneys are your best chance of facing it. Our team Our team at West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman has years of experience dealing with domestic violence in Arizona. We want to help you get your charges dismissed. Contact us now at (520) 790-7337 or browse our website to learn more.