What Charges Will I Face for a Domestic Violence Related Incident?
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In Arizona, domestic violence is not a separate chargeable offense – it’s just a designation of the relationship between the accused and the alleged victim. For example, if the police get called out to a home because of a loud argument between a husband and a wife and they determine that the husband either pushed, punched, or did something else physical to the wife during the argument, they would not be charged with domestic violence because that’s not a charge in Arizona. Instead they would be charged with disorderly conduct and assault, and then those charges would be designated as assault by domestic violence and disorderly conduct by domestic violence.
So, “domestic violence” is just a designation of the relationship between the parties. Arizona Revised Statute 13-3601 defines what relationships have to exist in order for it to be designated as domestic violence. These include being married, having a child in common, having a previous romantic relationship, or having cohabitated before, so even if it’s a roommate situation it would be domestic violence. That statute defines what charges can be designated as domestic violence and what relationships qualify for a domestic violence designation. The most common are disorderly conduct, assault, and criminal damage.
The designation does have a significant effect on the charges. If someone is convicted of an assault and it’s proven that they had a relationship under the domestic violence statute then there are mandatory minimum consequences that the court has to impose:
- For a first offense domestic violence conviction in Arizona, a person has to complete a minimum of 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling. The court has no discretion to waive that.
- For domestic violence misdemeanors, the maximum possible penalties are the same as for anyone who is charged with a misdemeanor.
- For a Class 3 misdemeanor, it’s up to one year probation, 1 month in jail and up to $500 in fines and fees.
- For a Class 2 misdemeanor, it’s up to two years’ probation, four months in jail, and a $750 fine plus surcharges.
- For a Class 1 misdemeanor it’s up to three years’ probation, five years if it’s a DUI, $1500 in fines and fees, and up to six months in jail.
There is no mandatory minimum jail time required for a domestic violence case but there is the mandatory minimum counseling.
If a person gets a second offense within seven years for domestic violence and is convicted, the court has to place them on supervised probation and at that point they have to complete a minimum of one year of domestic violence counseling. If there’s a third domestic violence offense committed within a seven year period then it becomes aggravated domestic violence and that’s charged as a felony.
How Do Police Determine Who the Aggressor Is in a Domestic Violence Situation?
If the police are called to a home they will typically separate the parties and interview everyone that was there to determine what everyone saw. They are going to look at the physical evidence, whether there are injuries to a specific person consistent with the statements that are being made, whether there’s damage inside the home, what room did it occur in, and what statements closely coincide with the physical evidence that they see. Based on department policies, if officers get called to a home and there is an allegation involving domestic violence, someone is going to be arrested. Very rarely do they let the parties go their separate ways that night. In the vast majority of cases someone is going to jail.
For more information on domestic violence related charges in Arizona, an initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and the legal answers you seek by calling (480) 351-2228 today.
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