Domestic Violence Cases

white_picket_fence300The term “domestic violence”seems simple, but when charged with a domestic violence offense, it is important to understand the legal definition of domestic violence.  As a domestic violence attorney, I will explain how the state of Arizona legally defines domestic violence.

What is Domestic Violence?

While we all may seem to have a belief that we know what domestic violence is, it is important to understand the Arizona legal definition of domestic violence.  From a legal standpoint, domestic violence is a designation to a crime, and not a crime itself.   Only certain crimes can be designated as domestic violence.

Which Crimes Can Be Designated as Domestic Violence?

The following Arizona crimes can be designated as crimes of domestic violence:

  • Any Dangerous Crime Against a Child
  • Negligent Homicide, Manslaughter, and Murder
  • Endangerment
  • Threatening or Intimidating
  • Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Custodial Interference
  • Unlawful Imprisonment
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual Assault
  • Unlawful Distribution of Images
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Criminal Damage
  • Interfering with a Judicial Proceeding (Violating a Protective Order)
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Cruelty to Animals
  • Preventing Use of Telephone in Emergency
  • Use of Electronic Communication to Terrify, Intimidate, Threaten or Harass
  • Harassment
  • Aggravated Harassment
  • Stalking
  • Surreptitious Photographing or Viewing
  • Aggravated Domestic Violence
  • Child or Vulnerable Adult Abuse

Any of the above Arizona crimes can be designated a domestic violence offense.  The next important piece of the puzzle is the relationship between the Defendant and the Victim.

What Relationship is Required for Domestic Violence?

One of the following relationships between the Defendant and the Victim is required for a crime to be designated as Domestic Violence:

  • Marriage or former marriage
  • Currently or previously resided together
  • Current or previous romantic or sexual relationship
  • A child in common
  • One party is pregnant by the other party
  • Parent, stepparent, or parent-in-law
  • Grandparent, grandparent-in-law, or step-grandparent
  • Child or stepchild
  • Grandchild or step-grandchild
  • Brother or sister
  • Brother-in-law or sister-in-law

Dating Relationships

The trickiest relationship to define is the current or previous romantic or sexual relationship.  Arizona law says that when considering whether this type of relationship fits the domestic violence relationship requirement the following factors are to be considered:

  • The type of relationship.
  • The length of the relationship.
  • The frequency of the interaction between the victim and the defendant.
  • If the relationship has terminated, the length of time since the termination.

Because this definition is not black or white, but open for interpretation, an experienced domestic violence attorney may be able to challenge the relationship requirement when two people are or have dated.

What if the Victim does not want to “press charges”?

Oftentimes, people get in an argument with a loved one and the police get involved.  Rarely, does anyone ever get hurt.  Usually the people involved move past their brief dispute and want to move on with their lives.  It is not uncommon for the Victim to not want to “press charges”.

Unfortunately, in Arizona domestic violence cases, the prosecutors will completely disregard the Victim’s desire to not prosecute.  Prosecutors will move forward with the criminal case, even if the Victim does not wish to.

What should you do if you are charged with a Domestic Violence offense?

If you are accused of a domestic violence offense, you need an experienced domestic violence attorney.  There are a lot of consequences to a domestic violence conviction.  An experienced domestic violence attorney will assess the evidence in the case, conduct witness interviews, and determine whether the prosecutor can actually prove a crime occurred.

Domestic Violence Resources:

Arizona Revised Statute §13-3601

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