Domestic violence cases can result from numerous circumstances involving relatives, spouses, and significant others. There are many situations where even non-violent disagreements and disputes can result in a charge.
Regardless of the circumstances, the consequences of a domestic violence conviction are severe. Beyond legal penalties, your social life, relationships, and job prospects can be adversely affected.
Expert counsel and experience with the legal system is a valuable asset when dealing with these kinds of allegations. There are very specific things to do and not do in these cases to avoid or minimize the consequences. If you are facing charges, work with an Arizona domestic violence lawyer at Grand Canyon Law Group for tireless representation and proven results. Our legal team has extensive experience with the criminal justice system—first as prosecutors and now as dedicated defense attorneys for those accused.
Domestic violence is often misunderstood. Most often, it is a tag or designation that gets attached to the accusation of another crime such as disorderly conduct, assault, or criminal damage, when the alleged victim has a “domestic” relationship with the accused. Ultimately, a domestic violence charge is really more about the relationship between the defendant and named victim than the underlying crime.
Domestic violence (often abbreviated as “DV”) is defined by ARS 13-3601 as abuse directed at a child or performed by one family member or household member against another. A spouse, significant other, relative, co-parent, or former significant other are all examples of a household member. Domestic violence offenses include battery, assault, disorderly behavior, criminal trespassing, and homicide.
Domestic abuse is frequently linked to physical harm, but the actions often are not violent. Domestic violence charges can be brought for various offenses, including:
With so many scenarios leading to a domestic violence charge, cases can become complicated fast. Our local attorneys are skilled at examining domestic violence cases to create a defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances.
Arizona law assigns penalties that increase with each repeated offense. Crimes are also classified by the nature of the crime committed. Domestic violence charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
For example, first offenses classified as a Class 3 misdemeanor can result in a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. A Class 2 misdemeanor includes a fine of up to $2,500 and a maximum sentence of 120 days in jail. Furthermore, 180 days in jail can be enforced if a party is convicted of Class 1 domestic abuse misdemeanor.
However, if a repeat offender is convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse twice in seven years, the third offense can be prosecuted as a felony for cases that would otherwise be misdemeanors. In this case, the punishments might include prison time, along with the other effects of a criminal conviction and a domestic violence conviction.
If the underlying charge would have been a felony, such as aggravated assault or child abuse, the domestic violence designation is added and the DV consequences attach.
To avoid or minimize these life-altering outcomes, it is crucial for anyone facing domestic violence charges in Arizona to work with a dedicated attorney.
Mitigating factors can lessen the severity of the punishment. The attorneys and team at Grand Canyon Law Group take the time to get to know our clients as people so that we can effectively argue and present mitigation for our clients’ cases. We get any positive information about our client, including but not limited to:
These mitigating factors are first presented to the prosecutor in the negotiation process to either decrease the penalty or dismiss the charges. There is an art to this process and our attorneys take it seriously. It does not mean that our clients must accept the plea offer that is given, but at least we know that we obtained the best possible offer from the State by presenting this mitigating information along with any legal challenges as to the strength or weakness of the case. Later, this information can also be used by presenting to the judge where appropriate.
One serious consequence that some people do not know when they enter a guilty plea to a domestic violence charge is that they lose their Second Amendment right to possess a firearm. Imagine the feeling of entering a plea and no one told you about the Constitutional Right you are forfeiting.
Once convicted of a DV offense, you are deemed a “prohibited possessor”. Your information goes to the FBI database and you will not qualify to purchase a gun. Worse, if you are ever found in possession of a firearm, you are looking at years of mandatory prison time if the DV offense was a felony. This is true even if you were borrowing a car and there was a gun under the seat you didn’t know about, or if you successfully completed probation. In order to ever possess a gun again, you need to have your rights restored through the legal process.
In addition, domestic violence convictions are looked at especially harshly by future employers, creditors, and government agencies for licensing. A DV conviction is a stain on your record.
Under ARS § 13-3601.01, a judge must order a person convicted on misdemeanor charges to participate in a domestic violence offender treatment program. At our Arizona law firm, our attorneys have handled countless domestic abuse cases and can argue for a diversion program in many different scenarios.
Domestic violence cases are our most dismissed case type. This is due to two options: diversion and trial.
Many Arizona agencies have recognized both the value in rehabilitation for domestic violence situations, and possibly the difficulty in proving these cases at trial. Many times, our attorneys are able to get the prosecutor to agree to allow our clients to do a domestic violence “diversion program”. This is generally a set or requirements such as classes, counseling, and fees. If the accused successfully completes this program, the case is dismissed, and the person is able to move on with their life and avoid the devastating effects of a DV conviction.
It is important to understand that most prosecuting agencies will not allow diversion if you have ever done one before. It is a one-shot deal. Also, some agencies have rules and policies that they do not allow it under certain circumstances, such as if physical harm or contact was involved or alleged.
Another option that may be a good one is to take the case to trial. It is not always a good option and many of our clients are not excited about the prospect of a trial, but under certain circumstances domestic violence charges can be difficult for the State to prove. And we often obtain dismissals at trial. The decision to go to trial must be made carefully. Our attorneys will explain the options for domestic violence cases in Arizona, and the decision is up to our clients once they have been fully informed.
Domestic disputes and domestic violence charges can be devastating to families and friends. These charges can place your reputation, rights, time, money, and freedom in jeopardy.
We understand the human side of these cases. We also understand the legal system and how the prosecution operates. At Grand Canyon Law Group, our Arizona domestic violence lawyers believe that you have a way of life worth protecting. Call our office today to discuss your case.