Domestic violence charges can stack on top of common offenses, such as assault, based on the relationship between a perpetrator and an alleged victim. These charges can carry serious criminal penalties and can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, based on the underlying offense.
An Avondale domestic violence lawyer can help you understand how domestic charges interact with another offense and what the possible penalties are. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can also help you understand more serious domestic violence charges that can qualify as aggravated offenses.
Arizona Code § 13-3601 defines domestic violence as any one of several violent crimes where a specific relationship exists between the alleged violator and the victim. If the relationship falls into one of these categories, then a perpetrator could face additional domestic violence charges:
The classification of a domestic violence charge depends on the crime on which it stacks. A domestic violence misdemeanor comes from an underlying misdemeanor and a domestic violence felony comes from an underlying felony. The penalties for a domestic violence offense will therefore depend on the sentencing guidelines for the underlying crime, as laid out by the Arizona Criminal Code Sentencing Provisions.
This classification also matters because the state creates specific penalties for misdemeanor domestic violence as opposed to felonies. Under Arizona Code Section 13-3601.01, a judge must place a person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense in an offender treatment program, and the convicted person must cover the program’s costs. Also, if a person is convicted of more than one misdemeanor domestic violence offense in a 60-month period, a judge can order supervised probation and incarceration as part of that probation.
Understanding the classification of a domestic violence offense is where a domestic violence lawyer in Avondale can provide valuable insight. An attorney can help an alleged perpetrator sort through prior offenses and see how a charge will be classified.
State law pays special attention to repeat domestic violence offenses, elevating a third or subsequent offense to one of aggravated domestic violence. These repeat offenses must have occurred within an 84-month period for the latest offense to become aggravated under § 13-3601.02.
An aggravated domestic violence offense becomes a Class 5 felony, no matter the underlying crime. A Class 5 felony carries a minimum sentence of 5 years in jail and a maximum of 7.5 years, and the 2-year sentence enhancement mentioned above for domestic violence against a pregnant victim could apply as well.
Aggravated domestic violence offenses also affect probation and other methods of limiting a jail sentence. For example, an aggravated offense coming after two prior offenses in the 84-month period prevents any probation, pardon, sentence commutation, suspension of sentence, or other release for the first four months of the sentence. Similarly, a fourth or subsequent offense in the 84-month period prevents sentence reductions for the first eight months of the sentence.
Whether prior offenses count for the 84-month period depends on the date of the offense instead of the date of conviction. A domestic violence lawyer can help a defendant in Avondale understand if a charge qualifies as aggravated and what penalties could result.
If the domestic violence charge is for a felony committed against a pregnant victim who the perpetrator knew was pregnant—or if the charge is for a felony that causes physical injury to a pregnant victim known to be pregnant—then the maximum sentence increases by up to 2 years.
Domestic violence charges can result in serious jail sentences and repeat offenses can increase possible penalties. Even though domestic violence offenses link to an underlying charge and get classified in line with that charge, they add additional penalties and can complicate sentencing.
Discussing your charges with an Avondale domestic violence lawyer can only help you in defending yourself from prosecution. Grand Canyon Law Group can support you and provide a realistic picture of what penalties you might face. Call us now for a free consultation.