Domestic Violence in Arizona
Crimes of domestic violence typically involve disputes between family members, those in a romantic relationship, or roommates – but can have varied definitions. When the police respond to a call relating to domestic violence, they often feel compelled to place somebody under arrest—even when there is a lack of evidence to support criminal charges.
In some cases of alleged domestic violence, alleged offenders are taken into custody as the result of false or exaggerated allegations. Even when the alleged victim says that he or she does not want to press any charges, it is the prosecutor that handles the case that is the one who has the power to make that decision.
If you were arrested for a domestic violence crime, you need to contact the lawyers at The Stewart Law Firm as soon as possible for help protecting your rights and achieving the most favorable outcome to your case with the fewest possible penalties.
In the State of Arizona, there are harsh penalties that follow a domestic violence charge – no matter what level, from aggravated up the scale to child abuse-level accusations. This crime is a violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.
Domestic violence includes a variety of individual crimes such as:
- Assault or battery against a spouse;
- Spousal abuse,
- Elder abuse by a family member; and
- Child abuse or neglect.
- Our Phoenix Domestic Violence Lawyers Understand the Complications
- Order of Protection in Arizona
- Petitioning the Arizona Court for an Order of Protection
- What is the Defendant Prohibited from Doing Under an Order of Protection?
- What Can You Do If You Are a Victim of Domestic Violence?
- Domestic Violence Effect on Child Custody
Our Phoenix Domestic Violence Lawyers Understand the Complications
Be cautious of any warning signs of possible domestic violence from the other party or other family members. Family law cases, especially divorce and child custody cases, can be extremely emotional.
Consequently, they often create a very turbulent time for the parties and their children. Everyone’s reactions to the distress of divorce differ, but most people experience some feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, and sadness.
The sad, but the simple truth is that 85% of domestic violence victims are women and 1 out 4 women will experience domestic violence. Worse still, 60% of those that abuse their intimate partners go on to abuse their children as well.
Most of these cases go unreported. In the event of domestic violence, immediately contact your local police or county sheriff and report the incident. Our Phoenix domestic violence lawyers understand what the law can do to help protect you and your family and what its limitations are.
Examples of Action in Arizona That May Lead to a Domestic Violence Charge
In Arizona, law enforcement officers do not require a warrant to arrest a suspect for domestic violence and do not have to witness the act. When someone within a household calls the police and alleges domestic violence, the police must make an arrest, even if the person who reported the alleged act takes it back and says the alleged abuse event did not occur. Common actions that have resulted in charges of domestic violence in Arizona include:
- Punching, slapping, hitting, and/or kicking
- Sexually abuse
- Marital rape
- Name-calling and constant criticism
- Threatening, stalking, intimidation
- Psychological abuse
Any violent or aggressive behaviors within a home may result in a criminal charge, an assault attorney in Phoenix can help explore your legal defense options. State prosecutors may decide to pursue charges even if the alleged victim does not wish to press charges.
Order of Protection in Arizona
What is an order of protection? If the opposing party is violent, or threatens violence, towards you or your children, then a restraining order is necessary to keep him or her away. An Order of Protection from the court prevents the opposing party, or the defendant under the order, from contacting you and any other protected person at home or at work. This form of restraining order is available when there is an act of domestic violence or threat of domestic violence against a family member.
“Family” is broadly interpreted for an Order of Protection and includes not only a spouse, previous spouse, or blood relative, but also someone you live with or lived with, the father or mother of your unborn child, or even someone in a current or past romantic relationship with you. Typically, an Order of Protection is granted “Ex Parte.”
Petitioning the Arizona Court for an Order of Protection
If you or your child is a victim of domestic violence, a Petition for an Order of Protection should be filed with the court. Getting the order does not take long, about an hour or so, at the court’s Order of Protection Office (the Family Violence Prevention Center). For an Order of Protection to issue, a family or intimate relationship is necessary between the victim and the defendant.
The defendant’s date of birth and his or her address is also required. The petition must also state that domestic violence has occurred or may occur. When a domestic violence crime has occurred, then supporting evidence, dates, and testimony about the violent event are necessary for the court to issue the order. In making a decision, the judge may ask the petitioner for information on the following concerns:
- whether the defendant should be ordered to stay away from the victim’s workplace.
- whether the defendant should be prohibited from possessing a firearm.
- whether the defendant should be barred from the victim’s home.
- whether there are others who should be included in the protective order as “protected parties.”
The petitioner must swear that the information he or she provided in the petition is true and then sign the petition. Once the judge has signed the Order of Protection, the defendant must be served with the petition and the order. Law enforcement will serve the defendant for free (as well as an injunction against harassment). For a fee, a private process server may also serve the protective order on the defendant.
The Order of Protection is effective for one year, the year begins when the defendant is served. The victim, as well as any other protected persons, should keep the order on his or her person at all times. In the event that the defendant has not yet been served and shows up where the victim is, then the victim should call the police, and present the copy of the order to the officers when they arrive. The officer will then serve the order on the defendant. Should the defendant violate the Order of Protection after being served, then he or she has committed a crime and will be arrested. Importantly, even with an Order of Protection in effect, the victim needs to take every safety precaution possible and prudent under the circumstances.
What is the Defendant Prohibited from Doing Under an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection requires that the defendant stay away and remain out of contact with the victim. The order is valid for a year unless modified or quashed (dismissed) by the court. The defendant can be arrested for violating the protective order, even when the victim initiated the contact. Your Phoenix domestic violence attorney can explain in more detail. The court may also order that the defendant not possess, receive, or purchase firearms or ammunition, and order surrender of the same to law enforcement upon service of the protective order.
What Can You Do If You Are a Victim of Domestic Violence?
You should keep a diary, journal, or log of events with dates and descriptions of any incidents involving potential or actual violence, threats of violence, stalking, cyberstalking, and harassment relevant to your case. You should journal specific examples of the other party’s poor judgment, alcohol or drug abuse, violent behavior, or threats of violence. Take notes of the conversations you have with the other party regarding the issues in your case. Additionally, you should keep copies of all emails or written exchanges with the other party.
When Can You Be Charged With Domestic Violence?
Law enforcement officers in Arizona can charge an individual with a violent crime with the addition of a domestic violence designation if they have probable cause to suspect that the individual committed an act of violence against any of the following:
- A child
- A spouse
- A person with whom they’ve had one or more children
- A person pregnant with the abuser’s child
- A blood relation or relation by marriage
- A person currently or previously in a romantic or sexual relationship with the violent individual
In Arizona, “domestic violence” is not a crime, but instead, the state may charge an individual with a violent crime with an attached designation of “domestic violence.” Some common charges with a domestic violence designation attached include:
- Assault/Domestic Violence
- Unlawful Imprisonment/Domestic Violence
- Disorderly Conduct/Domestic Violence
- Preventing Phone Use/Domestic Violence
- Threatening or Intimidating/Domestic Violence
- Criminal Damage/Domestic Violence
- Trespassing/Domestic Violence
- Custodial Interference/Domestic Violence
- Negligent homicide/Domestic violence
- Manslaughter/Domestic Violence
Any of the above instances can result in a criminal charge in Arizona with a designation of domestic violence. The state has a year in which to file charges against a suspect in misdemeanor cases and up to 7 years for felony assault charges of domestic violence. A felony conviction has life-long consequences, including the loss of voting rights in Arizona.
Domestic Violence Penalties and Sentencing
A conviction for a crime with the added domestic violence designation comes with penalties associated with whatever misdemeanor or felony offense the suspect is charged with. Penalties can result in any of the following:
- Jail or prison time
- A criminal record
- Protection orders against the suspect
- Inability to own a firearm
- Ineligibility for many jobs
- Loss of education opportunity
A conviction for a first offense of domestic violence requires mandatory 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling. A second conviction within a 7-year period results in supervised probation and a year of mandatory counseling. A third offense within a 7-year period becomes a felony charge of aggravated domestic violence with jail time and fines based on the class of the conviction.
Domestic Violence Effect on Child Custody
The court will not award joint custody if there is a finding of significant domestic violence by one parent against the other. Reason being, the court considers evidence of domestic violence contrary to the best interests of the child. If the court finds that a parent has committed an act of domestic violence, that parent has the burden of proving to the court’s satisfaction that parenting time will not endanger the child or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. If the parent meets this burden to the court’s satisfaction, the court will place conditions on parenting time that best protect the child and the other parent from further harm. These conditions can include supervision, treatment, and more.
Remember, if your safety or the safety of your children is at risk, call the police immediately. If you are in immediate danger, DIAL 911. Speak with a Phoenix domestic violence attorney once you are out of harm’s way.
We have many domestic violence attorney offices in Phoenix and the surrounding areas to serve you if you need help.
Find the closest one near you and give us a call. (clicking on the map pin will bring up more details)
Why Should I Hire You as My Domestic Violence Attorney in Phoenix?
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