Domestic violence is a prevalent and problematic issue that impacts individuals of all ages and backgrounds, but its presence is particularly alarming in Arizona.
According to a 2017 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 38.6 percent of Arizona residents reported experiencing domestic abuse.
The Department of Justice defines domestic violence as any pattern of abusive behavior employed to gain or maintain power and control in intimate relationships by one partner against the other, whether physical, emotional, sexual, psychological or economic actions or threats aimed at manipulating, intimidating, injuring coercing or exerting influence over another individual. This term encompasses various forms of abuse such as physical attacks on an intimate partner as well as threats or actions designed to gain or maintain such power or control by means of manipulation, intimidation, coercion or force against an intimate partner by another partner or even threats by one partner against another intimate partner.”
Arizona has taken steps to protect victims of domestic violence with laws designed to provide them with safety and justice.
Domestic Violence Laws in Peoria
Domestic violence laws in Arizona define various acts of domestic abuse as being domestic violence and, accordingly, each offense committed is considered domestic violence.
Common prohibited acts of domestic violence include stalking, kidnapping, sexual assault, aggravated assault, endangerment of witnesses and threats against them, criminal damage as well as negligent manslaughter or murder.
Domestic violence laws in Arizona specify which relationships qualify as domestic. Although most associate domestic violence with current or former spouses, it can involve anyone living together in one household, cohabitating parents who share children, people in sexual or romantic relationships, relatives related by blood or court order and children residing with the defendant.
Domestic Violence Penalties in Peoria
Domestic violence offenses in Arizona are punished in the same way as the underlying act, meaning sexual assault between two people in a romantic relationship would still be punished as sexual assault. However, some unique situations may result in additional penalties for the alleged abuser.
If the victim of the domestic crime is pregnant at the time of the abuse and the defendant knew that the victim was pregnant, the maximum prison sentence authorized is increased by two years.
For example, sexual assault in Arizona is considered a class 2 felony and had a punishment of up to 14 years in prison for a first offense, 21 years in prison if the defendant has a prior conviction, and up to 28 years in prison if the defendant has two or more prior convictions. Therefore, if this is the alleged abuser’s first offense and the victim was knowingly pregnant at the time of the abuse, the defendant would face a penalty of up to 16 years in prison.
Aggravated Domestic Violence
Aggravated domestic violence in Arizona is usually classified as a class 4 felony; however, if the crime results in serious physical harm to either party or has prior convictions for domestic violence it may be classified higher-level felony offense.
Assuming this is your first offense of aggravated domestic violence, potential penalties could include imprisonment for several months to years depending on various factors like severity of offense, aggravating factors and your criminal history.
Note that mandatory minimum sentences may apply in certain instances. However, jail time for domestic violence offenses that relate to prior convictions varies based on individual case details and Arizona legislation changes; so it is vitally important that one consult with an experienced attorney in order to receive accurate and up-to-date advice regarding sentencing guidelines.
Defenses for Domestic Violence in Peoria
When charged with domestic abuse, the defendant may choose a number of defenses designed to refute or lessen their involvement in the crime.
Some of the most common defenses used in domestic violence cases include complete denial of participating in the act, stating that the act was an accident or performed in self-defense, or arguing that the prosecutor failed to prove that the crime actually occurred.
If there is sufficient evidence, the defendant may admit to guilt but may try to prove that law enforcement made errors during the investigation and therefore cannot bring charges against him or her.
At JacksonWhite Law, we offer a full range of legal services to individuals and families suffering from the consequences of domestic abuse claims. If you have been accused of domestic abuse in Peoria, you need strong legal representation.
Call the Peoria JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 418-4281 to discuss your case today.