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Understanding Relationship Abuse

What is domestic behavior?

A charge of domestic violence A.R.S. 13-3601 in Arizona is a designation given to certain crimes when committed by a person with a special relationship to the victim. This special relationship is defined by law, and for a person to be a victim of domestic violence, that person's relationship to the defendant must fall within one of the following five categories.

Those relationships are:

  1. By marriage or former marriage
  2. By residing or having resided together
  3. The parties have a child in common
  4. They are related such as a:
    • Parent
    • Brother
    • Sister
    • Grandparent
    • Child
    • Grandchild
    • Grandparent-in-law
    • Stepparent
    • Brother-in-law
    • Sister-in-law
  5. The victim is a child who resides or had resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who resides or who had resided in the same household as the defendant.

Any other relationship does not qualify for this special relationship for domestic violence.

Sometimes law enforcement officers will designate an offense as domestic violence based merely on the relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend. This is wrong and does not create the defined relationship necessary for domestic violence charge required by Arizona law.

An Abusive Person may be Arrested With or Without a Warrant

According to A.R.S. 13-3601(B),

A peace officer, with or without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that domestic violence has been committed and the officer has probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed the offense, whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor and whether the offense was committed within or without the presence of the peace officer.

Some police officers believe that if they are called out to investigate a possible domestic violence case the officer intent is to arrest someone. According to the statue A.R.S. 13-3601, a police officer is not required to arrest someone, but may do so.

If the peace officer believes that either party's actions were justifiable acts of self-defense, there is no probable cause for that party to be arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charges

In Arizona, domestic violence can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the type of offense committed. For example, aggravated assault on a blood relative could constitute a felony offense, while endangerment of a child in your household could constitute a misdemeanor offense. Additionally, jurisdictions often vary on policies regarding the prosecution of domestic violence offenses.

Those offenses that can lead to a charge of domestic violence in Arizona are:

  • Aggravated Assault
  • Aggravated Domestic Violence
  • Any Dangerous Crime Against Children
  • Assault
  • Child or Vulnerable Adult Abuse
  • Criminal Damage
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Custodial Interference
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Endangerment
  • Harassment
  • Interfering with Judicial Proceedings
  • Kidnapping
  • Stalking
  • Surreptitious Photographing, Videotaping, Filming or Digitally Recording or Viewing
  • Threatening or Intimidating
  • Unlawful Imprisonment
  • Use of Telephone to Terrify, Intimidate, Threaten, Annoy or Offend

Other offenses include trespass, kidnapping, and interfering with judicial proceedings such as violating an order of protection can lead to a domestic violence designation. Some other lesser-cited offenses include telephone intimidation, harassment, stalking and surreptitious photographing or recording.

A Misdemeanor Sentence for a Domestic Violence Conviction

If the conviction is for a class one misdemeanor then the penalty for the class one misdemeanor is applicable, such as three years of probation, up to six months in jail, and a possible fine up to $2,500. The domestic violence designation then adds the mandatory domestic violence counseling and the potential of seizure of all weapons in the household for six months, and possibly the permanent revocation of the right to possess firearms pursuant to federal law. The added designation of domestic violence could further result in a felony prosecution for a third offense domestic violence charge. Any allegation of domestic violence and the potential sanctions imposed following a conviction should be taken very seriously. Do not wait to speak with an attorney as time is of the essence to prepare a solid defense.

What you think is just an argument can turn into something much more. Who knows what happened? A neighbor may hear raised voices and call the police. The police arrive and decide an argument ensued and so someone must be arrested for domestic violence. Domestic violence in Arizona carries serious consequences when not addressed immediately. These consequences can be both civil and criminal. If you have been charged in Maricopa County with a domestic violence or related offense, it's imperative to contact a domestic violence defense attorney.

You have rights, and at Brian DiPietro Law, PLLC, we are here to uphold your rights and defend any allegations made against you. Call us at 623-242-2655 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

Domestic Violence in Arizona

Domestic abuse, also called "domestic violence" or "intimate partner violence", can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. ... Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender.

Domestic violence describes a range of harm committed in the context of a domestic relationship, usually between spouses, intimate partners, or relatives, but in some jurisdictions, it can also include roommates or other members of the household. Examples of physical acts that can arise from domestic violence include punching, hitting, slapping, or shoving. However, it could extend to other patterns of abusive behavior, like threats of violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse. 

State-based legislation varies in terms of both the nature of the relationship and the type of conduct required to prove a domestic violence offense. While domestic violence offenses are usually prosecuted at a state level, federal domestic violence legislation exists. In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This Act and subsequent additions to the Act acknowledge domestic violence as a national crime and provide assistance to overburdened state and local criminal justice systems.

The following are federal crimes under VAWA if they are committed within the maritime or territorial lands of the United States or if the offender crosses state or foreign lines to:

  • commit or attempt to commit a crime of violence against an intimate partner (18 U.S.C. Section 2261)
  • stalk or harass or to stalk or harass by mail or computer (18 U.S.C. Section 2261A)
  • violate a qualifying Protection Order (18 U.S.C. Section 2262)

Consequences of Alleged Domestic Violence in Arizona

When a defendant is charged with a domestic violence offense, the court has the power to order a protection order, also referred to as a restraining or no-contact order, depending on your jurisdiction. Protection orders can be made even when the defendant isn't present in court and before their criminal law matter has been finalized and, in many cases, before the criminal process has really even begun. In essence, when it comes to domestic violence, you can suffer certain consequences before a judge or jury has found you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

When a protection order is issued, it can result in two significant consequences, though there may be other penalties or restrictions imposed:

  1. It can restrict a defendant's contact with the victim and their children; and
  2. It can require the defendant to leave the family home.

A person subject to a protective order or convicted of a domestic violence offense is also prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm under federal law. 

Criminal convictions of any nature, but especially domestic violence offenses, can also impact a defendant's ability to find work or housing. Potential employers or landlords who run a background check may refuse an applicant with a domestic violence conviction. 

Penalties of Domestic Violence or a Related Criminal Conviction in Arizona

The sentencing options for domestic violence offenses include many. Much of it depends on the severity of the allegations and any prior protective orders. Generally, penalties can include but are not limited to:

  • Fines
  • Probation 
  • Domestic violence treatment or counseling programs 
  • Imprisonment
  • losing parental rights
  • losing your rights to own a firearm

When sentencing an offender for a domestic violence offense, the court will take into account aggravating circumstances, like:

  • the level of injury sustained by the victim
  • whether a weapon was used or a child witnessed the crime
  • whether the crime violates an existing protection order
  • the personal characteristics of the victim, such as older age or pregnancy

The penalties for domestic violence offenses can quickly become harsher with subsequent convictions in Arizona. 

Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dropped in Maricopa County?

Domestic violence charges can be dropped, but it is critical to know that they will not be dropped only because the alleged victim of the violence no longer wants charges brought against the alleged suspect. Charges are brought by the state, not by the affected person.

The same is true about the restraining order. Even if the victim no longer wants the protection order, the order remains in effect. Any person who has a restraining order against them must abide by the order or risk further criminal charges and subsequent consequences. Violating a protective order is a serious offense.

Defenses to Domestic Violence Allegations in Arizona

Law includes these offenses and any other crime not designated will not be the basis for a Mesa domestic violence charge. A defendant will have a defense should the state charge an offense not so designated.

Care must be taken when the underlying crime is criminal damage. Under Arizona's community property law, property owned by spouses may be owned jointly thereby establishing the required element of damage to property of another. However, if the victim and defendant are not married then the victim to satisfy the damage element of a criminal damage charge must own the property.

Other defenses include defenses to the actual underlying offense charged like self-defense when one is charged with assault or on a trespass charge a person has permission to be on the premises.

A person can defend against a domestic violence charge in Arizona. However, the specific defenses available to a defendant will depend on the circumstances of their case. 

Some common defenses include:

  • Self-defense or defense of others, where reasonable force was used to prevent an attack
  • Lack of evidence, if the prosecution fails to present enough evidence to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt
  • False allegations, where the victim has lied about what happened
  • Accident, where the defendant unintentionally caused the injury

A conviction for a domestic violence offense can have a long-lasting impact on many aspects of a defendant's personal life, including their personal relationships, parenting, and employment. It is always in your best interests to, at a minimum, consult with a domestic violence defense lawyer about any allegations.

Contact a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Maricopa County Today

If you've been charged with a domestic violence offense, you should speak to an experienced domestic violence defense attorney at Brian DiPietro Law, PLLC immediately. We will listen to your version of events, assess the strength of the evidence against you, and advise you of any defenses that may be available to you. Fill out an online submission form or call us at 623-242-2655 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

Brian DiPietro Law, PLLC
480-753-4427 (fax)
Mon: 09:00am - 05:00pm
Tue: 09:00am - 05:00pm
Wed: 09:00am - 05:00pm
Thu: 09:00am - 05:00pm
Fri: 09:00am - 05:00pm


Brian DiPietro Law, PLLC
480-753-4427 (fax)
Mon: 09:00am - 05:00pm
Tue: 09:00am - 05:00pm
Wed: 09:00am - 05:00pm
Thu: 09:00am - 05:00pm
Fri: 09:00am - 05:00pm