Arizona’s domestic violence statutes are listed in ARS 13-3601, 13-3601.01, and 13-3601.02. While you can certainly find any and all relevant information in those statutes, they can be tough to comprehend for anyone without a legal background.
To help you understand the ins and outs of Arizona’s domestic violence statutes, we’ve put together a quick overview of what these three pivotal statutes entail. Our guide covers everything you need to know about domestic violence in Arizona, including:
- What is domestic violence?
- What is aggravated domestic violence?
- What are the penalties for domestic violence in Arizona?
- Possible defenses against domestic violence charges
- FAQs about domestic violence statutes in Arizona
- What to do if you’re facing domestic violence charges in Arizona
Domestic Violence Crimes
Under Arizona law, domestic violence covers a myriad of possible crimes where there’s a familial relationship between the victim and defendant. This includes:
- Married spouses
- Former partners
- Co-inhabitants residing in the same household
- Former co-inhabitants
- Parties with a child in common (including an unborn child)
- Parents, step-parents, and parents-in-law
- Grandparents, step-grandparents, and grandparents-in-law
- Children and step-children
- Siblings, step-siblings, and siblings-in-law
- Situations where there’s a current or past sexual or romantic relationship
Furthermore, domestic violence charges may accompany crimes where the victim is a child who resides (or has resided) in the defendant’s household, and the child is related by blood to the defendant’s former spouse, current romantic partner, or household member.
Once the familial relationship is established, the next step is to connect the domestic violence charge to a qualifying crime. According to ARS 13-3601, all of the following crimes may be connected to domestic violence in Arizona:
- Dangerous crimes against children
- Negligent homicide
- Second-degree murder
- First-degree murder
- Threatening or intimidating
- Aggravated assault
- Custodial interference
- Unlawful imprisonment
- Sexual assault
- Unlawful disclosure of images depicting states of nudity or specific sexual activities
- Trespassing (first, second, and third-degree)
- Criminal property damage
- Interfering with judicial proceedings
- Disorderly conduct
- Cruelty to animals
- Preventing the use of a telephone in an emergency
- Using electronic communication to terrify, intimidate, threaten, or harass
- Aggravated harassment
- Aggravated domestic violence
- Child or vulnerable adult abuse
Aggravated Domestic Violence
Under ARS 13-3601.01, a defendant is guilty of aggravated domestic violence if he or she is convicted of three or more domestic violence offenses in 7 years.
Note that qualifying convictions aren’t just restricted to Arizona — convictions in another state, federal, or tribal court are valid, too. The law considers misdemeanors and felonies, so even minor domestic violence charges can stack up to an aggravated domestic violence charge.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Arizona
Generally speaking, a domestic violence charge is tied to its underlying criminal charge. That means if the underlying charge is a misdemeanor, the domestic violence charge will also be a misdemeanor. If the underlying charge is more severe and qualifies as a felony, the domestic violence charge will be upgraded to a felony.
Either way, whether the charge is a misdemeanor or felony, domestic violence charges always require the completion of a domestic violence offender treatment program. Repeat offenders may be required to complete the treatment program while under supervision, which may include incarceration in jail.
For defendants with three or more domestic violence convictions, aggravated domestic violence is always a class 5 felony. First-time aggravated domestic violence offenders must serve a minimum of four months in prison before being eligible for probation, while repeat offenders must serve at least eight months in prison before they’re eligible for probation, pardon, commutation of sentence, or release.
Possible Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges
Due to the fact that domestic violence charges hinge on a familial relationship between the victim and defendant, the best defense is to establish that there’s no legal or blood-related connection between the victim and defendant.
If that’s not possible, the most common defense is to argue that your Miranda rights have been infringed. This may mean that the arresting officer didn’t read your rights, you were denied an attorney, you were interrogated without an attorney after requesting one, or that evidence was improperly seized during your arrest.
FAQs about Domestic Violence Statutes in Arizona
Q: How long will someone be in jail for domestic violence in Arizona?
Domestic violence charges don’t typically carry a jail or prison sentence. Any incarceration sentence would be tied to the underlying criminal charge (e.g. assault, property damage, stalking).
The exception to this would be for repeat offenders with three or more domestic violence convictions in 7 years. In these cases, aggravated domestic assault will carry a minimum 4-8 month prison sentence before the defendant is eligible for probation or release.
Q: Can an assault charge be dismissed?
Prosecution is ultimately up to the district attorney’s office. That means the prosecutor could still pursue the case even if the victim chooses to drop the charges against the defendant.
That said, the prosecutor will usually respect the victim’s wishes, so if the victim requests that they drop the charges the case is often dismissed.
Q: Will I go to jail for a first-time assault charge?
You may go to jail if the underlying charge (assault, property damage, stalking) is serious enough to warrant a jail or prison sentence. However, that’s due to the underlying charge, not the domestic violence charge.
Q: What is a felony domestic charge?
Felony domestic violence generally refers to cases where the underlying charge is a felony. It may also include aggravated domestic violence charges, which are a class 5 felony.
Facing Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona?
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, you should discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Based on your initial consultation, your attorney will strategize an effective defense to have the charges against you lowered, dropped, or dismissed.
If you’ve been arrested, do not provide law enforcement with anything other than your identifying information until you’ve spoken with an attorney. Don’t let the interrogator convince you that you’re giving up your chance at a deal when your attorney arrives — the truth is, an experienced attorney can always get you an even better deal, and they’ll ensure the prosecutor follows through on their contractual promises.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.