The list of crimes that could be considered domestic violence is lengthy, and includes both violent acts and misdemeanors.
What offenses fall under Domestic Violence?
- Sexual Assault
- Physical Assault
- Animal cruelty
What defines a crime as domestic violence is not the offense itself but who is involved in it.
Who is considered ‘Domestic’?
Domestic violence does not just refer to a husband and a wife, as is often portrayed in the media. Other cases that could be considered domestic violence include:
- Two people who live together, regardless of their relationship.
- Anyone you are related to, regardless of degree,
- Someone who is a parent or pregnant with your child or step-child
- Relatives by marriage, includes step-siblings and step-parents
- The whole contingent of exes....ex-spouses, ex-step-children, ex-in-laws
Wait, we were both fighting. How come I got arrested?
Arizona law allows an officer to make a judgement call about who is at fault and whether or not further violence could occur. So, even if the fight is a mutual one, one person may end up bearing the brunt of the charges. If an officer thinks that you may cause more disruptions, you could be removed from the scene and arrested, even if the fight is not your fault. That is why it is crucial you get a great attorney on your side.
What about Arizona Law makes this a more serious charge?
Arizona has some of the toughest laws in the country. This is especially true of domestic violence cases. Often, even if the victim wants to drop the charges, the case will proceed. And the consequences in these cases are very severe. You could stand to lose many of your rights, including visitation and gun privileges. Also, mandatory counseling, fines, and prison sentences are possible for those convicted of domestic violence.
Two things make the law tougher in Arizona than in some other places. First, a police officer is allowed to use her or her ‘best judgement’ in determining who is at fault, and often courts will uphold that judgment even without hard evidence. So, even if it’s a mutual disagreement or fight, one person could wind up bearing the brunt of the penalties.
Also, Arizona law 13-3601 gives police officers the right to arrest anyone suspected of domestic violence "with or without a warrant", and the officer does not need to witness the suspected altercation. This makes it exceptionally hard to prove your innocence, as it is your word against theirs. When charged with domestic violence, you need an experienced attorney in your corner.
What should you do if you are accused of domestic violence?
First and foremost, do not talk to the police. You have the right to remain silent, so make sure you exercise that right and then ask to speak to an attorney. You will most likely be barred from contacting your accuser in any fashion, and make sure you obey, no matter how much you want to clear the air or set things straight. Ignoring a contact ban will quickly lead to more charges against you. Finally, you need to find yourself an experienced attorney who can help you face the legal system.