Domestic Violence Arizona

domestic violence arizonaDomestic violence laws may vary from state to state, from the definitions of the crimes to the punishments for these crimes.  Domestic violence is unfortunately prominent in the United States and is a crime that falls before judges and district attorneys often. This blog post will provide a short overview of Arizona law.

Who is a Family or Household Member for Domestic Violence in Arizona?

Arizona defines domestic violence as a criminal act committed by one “family or household member” against another.  These crimes may not all be violent in nature.  Domestic violence include physical, emotional, sexual, and economic control.  Crimes can include assault and battery, assault with a dangerous (deadly) weapon, criminal trespass, kidnapping, or witness intimidation.

While many first offenses will be charged as a misdemeanor, if an individual is charged for a third domestic violence offense within a seven-year period, the individual can be charged with a felony and sentenced to prison.  Aggravated domestic violence is charged as a felony and carried up to two and half years in prison.

Often, victims of domestic violence are not cooperative with the police, usually out of fear of the judicial system or the abuser.  A victim who has been abused may also want to protect the abuser, out a sense of love that is still present.  If a victim in Arizona asks the police to not prosecute, the police will most likely not drop the prosecution.  A judge will only drop a charge if the prosecutor requests it. Prosecutors will want a victim present to be a witness, however often victims may not show up, again out of fear.

Remedies for Domestic Violence in Arizona

A victim is provided several remedies in Arizona.  These include an address confidentiality program.  This type of program allows a victim to obtain a legal substitute address, usually in the form of a p.o. box.  This is an avenue to protect a victim from their abuser. The address can be used legally as a way to receive mail and when needing to list an address for public documents.  The substitute address will then forward it to the victim’s real address. Protection orders are also a common avenue for a victim to pursue. One key aspect about protection orders is that they can be issued prior to a person being tried in court.  This is key for victims to ensure that the police are notified that a person should not be in contact with a victim and to be on alert.

Click here for information on child abuse laws in Arizona.

Victims may also pursue a civil lawsuit.  This is a way to recover property losses, emotional pain and suffering damages, and medical bills.  In Arizona, you may file in small claims court if the amount is $2,500 or less.  If a victim is searching for more, likely a victim would need to hire an attorney and file in regular justice court.  If children are involved, a victim may also pursue orders for child custody and spousal support.

For domestic law prevention, Arizona allows political subdivisions of the state to form a domestic violence fatality review teams.  These teams can include the office of the medical examiner, a representative of the county or public health agency, and other domestic violence advocates.  This team tries to understand the domestic violence problem in their communities and provide solutions.  Arizona is also a mandatory reporting state.  This requires physicians, surgeons, and nurses called upon to treat victims of violence and to immediately report to local law enforcement.

Arizona also provides that no insurance company can discriminate by denying or refusing a claim based solely on the basis that a person is a victim of domestic violence.