| Read Time: 5 minutes | Criminal Defense

Domestic violence charges in Arizona are serious and have long-lasting consequences.

At Salwin Law Group we understand the fear and confusion that many individuals experience when facing domestic violence charges because we have seen our clients go through it. We also know how important it is to obtain a favorable resolution for our clients as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Below you will learn more about what to expect with a first-time domestic violence charge in Arizona, the potential consequences of a conviction, and legal defenses that may be available to those accused of committing domestic violence.

IMPORTANT: Domestic violence in Arizona is charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the severity of the incident, and is punishable by imprisonment. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you should strongly consider speaking with an attorney who has experience in domestic violence cases in Arizona to understand your rights and possible defense strategies.

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Stewart Salwin

First Time Domestic Violence Charge in Arizona

first time domestic violence charge arizona

A first-time domestic violence charge in Arizona can carry some harsh penalties, including jail time or even imprisonment. The penalty for a domestic violence charge depends on the severity of the offense, any previous convictions and other factors.

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Domestic Violence Laws in Arizona

In Arizona, criminal acts of abuse committed by one household member against another are referred to as domestic violence. The offense of domestic violence in Arizona is defined by ARS 13-3601. Household members are generally defined as those who share a domestic relationship, such as current or former spouses, persons who live in the same household, and individuals who have a child together. It also includes those who are related to the abuser as a child, parent, grandparent, siblings, and in-laws.

Reach out to our Arizona domestic violence lawyer today to discuss your case!

The Difference Between a Domestic Violence Charge and a Domestic Violence Conviction

Simply receiving a domestic violence charge does not mean that you will be convicted of the offense.

When you are charged with a domestic violence crime, it means that the police believe they have probable cause to believe that you committed a criminal act. If the prosecutor decides to pursue charges against you, your case will go through the court system.

At trial, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed each element of the offense for which you have been charged with. If the prosecutor cannot meet this burden of proof, you may be found not guilty and will not face any consequences for the charge.

A conviction is when the jury or judge determines that the prosecutor has met their burden of proof and finds you guilty. A conviction of domestic violence in Arizona carries serious penalties, including jail or even prison time.

What are the Potential Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction in Arizona?

The penalties for domestic violence offenses are stiff, even for first-time offenses, and are punishable by imprisonment.

A first-time domestic violence conviction in Arizona can carry a wide variety of penalties. The severity of the penalty associated with receiving a conviction is directly proportionate to the severity of the offense committed by the accused.

Some domestic violence offenses are charged as misdemeanors, while other more serious offenses can be charged as felonies.

Due to the wide range of possible penalties associated with domestic violence, it is important to speak with an attorney in order to understand the particular consequences that you may be facing.

Regardless of whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony, those convicted of domestic violence will most likely be subject to penalties, including:

  • The loss of your right to own a gun
  • Receiving a protective order (restraining order) that will prevent you from seeing a loved one
  • Pre-trial bond conditions including things such as no-contact orders and GPS monitoring

Because domestic violence is generally not a crime in itself (with the exception of aggravated domestic violence) the possible punishments for a domestic violence crime are closely tied to the underlying criminal charges.

So if the underlying charge is a misdemeanor, the domestic violence charge will also be a misdemeanor. Likewise, a felony charged as domestic violence will still be a felony of the same class as the underlying crime (e.g., class 6 felony; class 5 felony).

Increased Penalties when the Victim is Pregnant

ARS 13-3601 also states that if the defendant commits a domestic violence offense against a pregnant victim and knew that the victim was pregnant, or if a defendant commits a felony offense causing physical injury to a pregnant victim and knows the victim is pregnant, then the maximum sentence that the defendant faces is increased by up to two years.

Some First-Time Offenders May Be Eligible for a Court-Approved Diversion Program

If this is your first criminal offense, even if it is domestic violence related, you may be eligible for a court-approved diversion program. Such programs are offered by some prosecutor’s offices in Arizona for first-time offenders.

It is by no means guaranteed, and many first time offenders are not offered diversion by the prosecutor’s office. However, sometimes it is possible to negotiate a resolution for diversion depending on the facts of a particular case.

They usually involve taking a certain number of domestic violence classes. After those courses are completed by the defendant, the prosecutor agrees to then dismiss the case with prejudice.

This has the same effect as an acquittal and is usually a very favorable outcome if your attorney can get a diversion offer.

Additional Defenses to Domestic Violence Charge in Arizona

Understanding how Arizona law applies to your domestic violence charges is the first step in mounting an effective defense.

The second step is consulting with a skilled Arizona attorney who can help you determine the best defense strategy against your domestic violence charges. Depending on the facts of your case, some common defenses to domestic violence in Arizona may include:

  • No Legal/Blood Relation: Because the “domestic violence” designation in a crime depends on the relationship between the victim and the defendant, a defense to such a designation would be to show that there is no legal or blood relationship which would qualify for the designation under ARS 13-3601. Furthermore, a court can determine whether a relationship exists depending on such factors as the type of relationship, its length, and when it ended.

Example: A man goes on one date with a woman and the couple wind up sleeping together. They do not meet each other after that, and for all intents and purposes the affair could be described as a one-night stand. The man is then charged with a crime against the woman five years later. Technically, the crime may be charged as domestic violence because the man and the woman previously had a sexual relationship. However, there is a good defense to the domestic violence charges given the very brief nature of the relationship and the length of time that had elapsed since the sexual encounter.

  • Defenses to Underlying Charges: If the nature of the domestic relationship is not at issue, there still exists possible defenses to the underlying criminal charges. These can include such things as violations of Miranda rights, violations of right to counsel, illegal search and seizure, and other defenses depending on the nature of the crime.

Have You Been Charged with Domestic Violence in Arizona?

If you’ve been charged with a domestic violence offense, an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Salwin Law Group can help you with your case today.

Domestic violence charges, if convicted, can result in serious prison time and other consequences, so it’s important to mount the best available defense. As the consequences are so severe if you mess up, protect yourself by hiring a skilled Arizona attorney to defend your case.

Call Salwin Law Group PLLC today at (480) 702-1789, or contact us online to make your appointment.

Author Photo

Stewart Salwin

Stewart Salwin is the founder and lead attorney at Salwin Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona, just outside of the greater Phoenix area. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, where he was taught criminal law by world-renowned defense attorneys.

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