How Arizona Treats Domestic Violence Charges
Arizona domestic violence charges have somewhat similar parameters as other states, although the crime is often used to enhance other charges like rape, assault and battery. A domestic violence attorney defends those accused of this crime, and you’d be surprised how many claims are actually falsified.
The punishments for domestic violence can range from probation to extended imprisonment, along with an unneeded blemish on one’s criminal record. Therefore, it’s important to retain counsel immediately when being investigated or after an arrest, even if you’re a first-time offender.
Arizona’s domestic violence law
Much like harassment, being charged with domestic violence means enough evidence exists proving one physically abused their spouse, partner, cohabitant, or family member. Not only does physical or emotional abuse constitute domestic violence in Arizona, but retaliating against an individual by destroying property can be charged as domestic violence.
13-3601 lays the foundation for establishing domestic battery as not only chargeable for striking or injuring an individual who shares an ‘intimate’ relationship (spouse, sibling, parent), but also for attacking animals and property controlled by an intimate partner. Should an individual find themselves arrested for this crime, an automatic restraining order is entered.
Unlike harassment, domestic violence charges cannot be dropped by victim; even if victims beg the prosecutor, the charges are normally there to stay unless evidence says otherwise.
Click here for additional information on domestic violence in Arizona.
After you’re charged and arrested
Once formal charges are entered and you’ve been taken to county jail, it’s important to not self-incriminate by speaking freely to officers or investigators unless you’ve retained counsel. Less is more when defending domestic violence cases; giving little to law enforcement makes the state work harder to prove charges of this magnitude.
First-time offenders aren’t treated much differently than repeat violators since domestic assaults are serious in Arizona. An established attorney will fight to get bond set or possibly a conditional release on own recognizance, and move quickly to secure the case discovery to determine what next steps are appropriate.
When released, defendants cannot have contact with victim in any capacity. Even if victim feels remorseful about the situation and wants to make amends, engaging in conversation or attempting any form of contact will impose bond revocation along with additional charges.
State must prove their allegations
Although no part of domestic violence is OK, an experienced domestic violence attorney plans every case with only one goal: exoneration. Defendants have the right to face their accuser, are afforded the opportunity to see evidence being used against them, and is never presumed guilty until the state proves such.
Arizona assault laws, including domestic violence, state that evidence against perpetrators of violence must be overwhelming. And, since domestic violence encompasses so much, proving cases beyond doubt isn’t always ‘cut and dry’ for prosecutors.
Case in point: a defendant wasn’t at home, but has anger toward his spouse. She comes home to find her possessions destroyed and dog brutally beaten, and phones 911 to report domestic violence by means of retaliation. Officer takes report, arrests defendant, and now an innocent man cannot live in his home or contact his wife, who thinks he retaliated out of anger.
During trial, evidence comes out that entryway door was kicked in and several items are reported missing by victim. Defendant proves through time card stamps that he was indeed working, and no fingerprints are found anywhere implicating him as the retaliator. Case is dismissed, forcing police to investigate burglary instead.
In the above example, victim assumed her husband was retaliating against her for whatever reason. Without an investigation launched by an attorney specializing in domestic violence cases, an innocent man could’ve been wrongly adjudicated.
States must provide irrefutable evidence that someone committed an alleged crime.
First-time offender sentencing for domestic violence
Presuming charges are substantiated, and defense attorney opts to enter an agreement to plead guilty in exchange for reduced sentencing (called a ‘plea bargain’), defendants will be bound to whatever sentencing was imposed. The exact sentence handed down will depend on whether defendant pled to felony or misdemeanor charges.
Provided no prior convictions of domestic violence are discovered, and defendants have no related felonies, sentences may include:
- Domestic violence treatment programs, which are like ‘diversion’ programs that keep offenders from imprisonment;
- Stronger protection order, preventing any future contact with victim;
- House arrest, available only if offender has their own home. Not available if home is shared with victim;
- Loss of gun rights if the charge carries a sentence longer than one (1) year;
- Probation, which have terms completely separate from court-imposed sentence;
- For felony convictions, an extended state prison sentence is possible.
Arizona treats domestic violence offenders harshly from the moment they’re found guilty, until the record is somehow expunged or enough time has passed where it’s forgotten about. Therefore, even a first time offender domestic violence charge Arizona courts often try will have sentences much stricter than white-collar crimes.