Understanding Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona

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In Arizona, the definition of domestic violence (DV) is quite broad. You won’t find this charge as its own crime in state laws. Instead, you will face a DV penalty in addition to underlying charges for other acts if you have a domestic relationship with the alleged victim.

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The domestic violence designation could apply to multiple underlying crimes, including the following:

  • Criminal damage or trespassing
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Physical, sexual, or aggravated ssault
  • Endangerment
  • Harassment
  • Kidnapping
  • Negligent homicide, manslaughter, or murder
  • Stalking, intimidating, or threatening
  • Unlawful imprisonment

Your Relationship to the Victim Determines Whether DV Applies

To meet the state’s definition of domestic violence, you need to have a specific relationship with the other party involved. Keep in mind that these types of charges apply to more than just legally married couples.

If you have or have ever had a romantic relationship with the victim, lived with the victim, or if you have a child together, your relationship qualifies. Domestic violence charges can also apply to crimes committed against blood relations, relatives by marriage or court order, and children in your home who are related to your spouse or roommate.

When you’re unsure whether your relationship with the victim makes DV charges applicable, contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, for assistance.

Penalties You May Face

Since Arizona charges for domestic violence along with the crime it involves and not as a crime on its own, the penalties stem from those given for the base crime. However, if your original charges come with DV charges, you will receive additional penalties on top of what you would receive for the base charges. This means that, when your conviction involves domestic violence, you could serve more jail time,  undergo mandatory DV counseling, and experience other negative consequences.

The exact domestic violence penalties you will face depending on what you are charged with. If, for example, you’re charged with a Class 3 DV misdemeanor, you could face up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. However, if your case involves serious bodily injury sustained by the alleged victim, that’s a Class 3 dangerous felony that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, and fines up to $100,000.

Multiple convictions for crimes with a domestic violence charge can increase your penalties, too. Being convicted of a DV crime three times or more over a period of 84 months in Arizona is a Class 5 felony, making you subject to fines and a prison sentence of up to 2.5 years.

The Domestic Violence Legal Process

In Arizona, the state has up to one year to file a charge against you for alleged domestic violence if it’s a misdemeanor. For felonies, the state has up to seven years. Once you are officially charged, it is best to enter a “not guilty” plea. Here, it’s wise to speak to an attorney about how to proceed. Your attorney will help you during this time and offer you guidance, advice, and a realistic outline of your case.

The legal process is not an easy one for domestic violence charges. While you can attempt to handle your case on your own, this could result in a worse outcome than if you had legal representation.

I am Here to Help

An experienced attorney like Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, can help you craft a defense strategy that is appropriate for your situation. There are many possible defenses to domestic violence charges including that the wrong party is being charged, self-defense, acts in defense of someone else, false accusations, police misconduct, and lack of evidence. The right approach in your case could lead to reduced charges or even a dismissal of your case altogether.

When you are facing serious charges, contact an attorney for assistance as soon as you can. Being convicted of a serious crime will impact your life for many months and even years to come, and your very freedom could even be on the line. In this type of situation, you simply can’t afford to leave anything about your case to chance.

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