Domestic violence refers to domestic abuse, or the physical abuse or sexual violence of someone who lives in the same household as the victim, whether it’s their family member, spouse, roommate, or other. This can involve assault and battery, as well as emotional abuse. In Arizona, domestic violence can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, each of which has its corresponding consequences.
Since these accusations are processed quickly, it can be difficult for defendants to protect their rights. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it’s important to act fast and get in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What counts as domestic violence?
Arizona criminal law defines acts that cause bodily injury – including aggravated battery, strangulation, simple assault, sexual assault, sexual battery, and other types of domestic assault – as criminal offenses under domestic violence.
Certain acts that may not be considered violent crimes – such as neglect, emotional or verbal abuse, or no-contact order violations – are also considered to be domestic violence. Check with your state’s domestic violence laws for more information on what constitutes criminal charges for domestic violence.
How does a domestic violence case start?
Reports of domestic violence received by any law enforcement officers are taken seriously. Because of this, a defendant may be arrested by a police officer immediately based on the word of the domestic violence victims, even with little or no investigation.
A criminal case often begins when victims of domestic violence file a temporary restraining order against their defendants. Since it’s not uncommon for alleged victims to make false allegations, hiring a criminal defense lawyer is important to quickly build a defense and protect the rights of the alleged abuser. Note that most jurisdictions allow for an immediate protection order, which can force the defendant out of their home.
When is domestic violence considered a felony?
Whether domestic violence cases are tried as felonies or misdemeanors depends on the nature of the criminal offense and whether you’ve had prior convictions. A prosecutor will also look at whether you have a past criminal conviction, and whether there were prior incidents of abuse reported by the victim against you. A general rule of thumb is that the more times a defendant is charged or convicted, the more likely it is that future domestic violence charges will be considered a felony offense.
Your first offense will likely be a misdemeanor, taking into consideration the severity of the victim’s injuries. Domestic violence is classified as a misdemeanor if it involves:
- The use, attempt to use, or threat to use physical violence against another member of their household.
- The emotional abuse of a victim through verbal abuse, criticism, manipulation, screams, and upsetting of belittling remarks.
On the other hand, several factors can convert a domestic violence case to felony charges. Generally, this occurs when one or more of the following are involved:
- Alcohol and drugs;
- Being a repeat offender;
- Being witnessed by a child or minor;
- Severe bodily harm or death;
- Use of a firearm or weapon; and
- Violation of a restraining order.
What are the penalties for domestic violence?
A felony domestic violence entails legal consequences such as:
- Jail time of at least one year;
- Heavy criminal fines;
- No contact or restraining orders against you;
- Longer probation periods;
- Rehabilitation courses required by the court.
Do I need a domestic violence lawyer?
If you have been charged with domestic violence, you need to speak to a lawyer immediately and get legal representation. While DV allegations are not always true, getting a conviction (especially a felony conviction) has far-reaching consequences that will greatly impact your life.
Our aggressive criminal defense strategy and our compassion and understanding of our clients’ circumstances at The Law Office of Howard A. Snader, LLC help us provide you with the best possible defense. Contact us today to get in touch with a Phoenix domestic violence attorney and discuss your case.