Domestic violence in Arizona is a serious allegation. As with all states, Arizona has a particular set of laws that dictate what penalties apply in these situations. With domestic violence being reported at an alarming rate, it is more important than ever to understand how Arizona defines domestic violence legally, and how to proceed if you or a loved one are a victim of such violence, or have been accused of it.
The Surprising Statistics about Domestic Violence in Arizona
In 2014 alone, the Arizona Department of Economic Security reported over 23,400 calls to crisis centers reporting domestic violence. According to this same report, at least 8,700 people receive aid in the form of transitional housing or shelter every year in Arizona. This leads to over 290,000 total nights spent in emergency shelters by women and children annually, a shocking and sobering reality. And this also means the likelihood that you or someone you know is suffering from the consequences of domestic violence.
What is Domestic Violence According to Arizona?
In Arizona state law, domestic violence occurs when a person commits a dangerous act against a child or another person in the following situations:
- the defendant and the victim are married
- the defendant and the victim have a child together
- the victim is a child who lives in the same household as the defendant and is a child of someone else who has resided or resides in the house
- the victim or defendant is pregnant with the other party’s child
- the victim and the defendant are related by blood or court order
- the relationship between the victim and defendant is, or has ever been, romantic or sexual
What are the Penalties in Arizona?
The penalties for domestic violence, if a person is convicted, are incredibly damaging. Crimes of Domestic Violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. In either case, incarceration is possible. Under Arizona law, the minimum mandatory penalty is a 6-month counseling program.
In many instances, the mere fact you are charged may force you to report the matter to your employer or licensing agency: this applies to doctors, nurses, and other professions. And, if charged, you may lose your fingerprint clearance card. That becomes a major problem for teachers and other professionals.
If convicted, you could lose your gun rights, and have all weapons confiscated. Those in the military or law enforcement will run into problems when they are required to report it, and if the person is an airline pilot they can lose their TSA security clearance. And if you have residency status, your immigration could be in jeopardy, and you can even be deported. If you are a realtor or a banker, you could lose your license, and thus your ability to make a living.
What Can Happen to your Family
In addition to fighting the criminal charge, you will also need to consider the consequences of being charged or convicted when dealing with child custody and visitation. Depending on the allegations, The Arizona Department of Child Safety (formerly CPS) may become involved. If that happens, note that anything said to DCS can be provided to police. And, if you elect to not speak with DCS, they can remove your ability to be with them.
What to do if you receive an Order of Protection
This is another collateral issue to those facing charges for Domestic Violence. In many cases, the victim will obtain an Order of . If served, please remember 2 important things: 1) you can not have ANY contact, direct or indirect, with the protected party; and, 2) you have a right to a hearing. But that hearing will be set within 10 days of your request. Please do not request a hearing until you speak with experienced counsel.
Hearings on an Order of Protection must be done carefully. If lost, you may lose your gun rights if not previously lost. And, many people do not understand how difficult it may be to have your witnesses and evidence available within 10 days of your request.
Experience counsel will be able to counsel you on the timing of the request for the hearing and having the appropriate witnesses and evidence available for trial.
What to do if You’re a Victim
If you are a victim of domestic violence and are currently in danger, the Arizona Judicial Branch suggests that you call 911 immediately. Domestic violence is no joke, and you should seek emergency assistance right away if your wellbeing is threatened. For other situations, and for more information, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (TTY 1-800-787-3224).
What to do if You Are Charged
If you are charged with domestic violence, you must be careful about what you do and say. Any statement may be used against you. Even if you have done nothing wrong, your statement may corroborate parts of the victim’s story: i.e. yes we live together, yes we were together that evening, etc…. establish the basis for the domestic violence crime. Simple admissions may lock in a bad case to be prosecuted.
ALWAYS REQUEST COUNSEL. Your only obligation is to identify yourself. After that, request counsel. You are not going to talk yourself out of an arrest. Therefore, to avoid incriminating yourself and giving away your rights accidentally, it is important that you get experienced counsel right away if you are contacted by law enforcement or know they are on the way.
With so many cases of domestic violence being reported in Arizona, it is essential that you have a good understanding of how to protect your rights. Whether you are a victim, or you are being accused of domestic violence, there are actions you can take such as calling a help hotline or getting an experienced attorney on your side. I am a Expert in Criminal Law, Certified by the State Bar of Arizona. I have successfully defended thousands of DV cases, and created and used creative defenses that have been successful. Don’t enter the fight on your own. Give me a call at (602) 899-0590 or email me!