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Arizona’s Domestic Violence Charges and Sentencing

Posted on February 8, 2024 in

Relationships can be complicated and filled with conflict. Passions, emotions and tensions can run high. If an argument gets out of hand, Arizona law could classify actions taken or words spoken as “domestic violence.” This crime is taken seriously by Arizona lawmakers. 

If the police get involved in a domestic dispute, you could be charged with domestic violence – a crime that may be met with jail time and other serious penalties. Learn as much as you can about Arizona’s domestic violence laws when you consult with a Phoenix domestic violence attorney.

What Is Arizona’s Definition of Domestic Violence?

The state’s definition of domestic violence is found in Arizona Revised Statutes Title 13. Criminal Code § 13-3601. This law states the following:

  • “Domestic violence” means any act that is a dangerous crime against children as defined in section 13-705 or an offense prescribed in section 13-1102, 13-1103, 13-1104, 13-1105, 13-1201, 13-1202, 13-1203, 13-1204, 13-1302, 13-1303, 13-1304, 13-1406, 13-1425, 13-1502, 13-1503, 13-1504, 13-1602 or 13-2810, section 13-2904, subsection A, paragraph 1, 2, 3 or 6, section 13-2910, subsection A, paragraph 8 or 9, section 13-2915, subsection A, paragraph 3 or section 13-2916, 13-2921, 13-2921.01, 13-2923, 13-3019, 13-3601.02 or 13-3623, if any of the following applies:
  • The relationship between the victim and the defendant is one of marriage or former marriage or of persons residing or having resided in the same household.
  • The victim and the defendant have a child in common.
  • The victim or the defendant is pregnant by the other party.
  • The victim is related to the defendant or the defendant’s spouse by blood or court order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law or sister-in-law.
  • The victim is a child who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who resides or who has resided in the same household as the defendant
  • The relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously a romantic or sexual relationship. The following factors may be considered in determining whether the relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously a romantic or sexual relationship:
  • 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.

The various statutes listed in subsection A of the domestic violence statute include sexual exploitation of minors, homicide crimes, threatening or intimidating, and assault and battery, among many others.

Types of Domestic Violence or Abuse Charges in Arizona 

In the State of Arizona, a domestic violence charge is attached to the base crime involved. This means a convicted individual could face penalties for the base crime as well as additional sentencing for the added offense of domestic violence.

Crimes often attached to domestic violence charges include: 

Domestic violence can refer to physical abuse and assault as well as nonphysical offenses, such as verbal and emotional abuse. If an individual commits three or more domestic violence offenses within an 84-month period, the crime becomes aggravated and carries enhanced penalties.

What Is the Sentencing for Domestic Violence in Arizona?

A first-offense domestic violence conviction can come with a sentence of mandatory community service, fines, and jail or prison time. Most first-offense domestic violence crimes are misdemeanors that can be elevated to felonies in certain circumstances, such as cases involving the use of weapons or injury. 

Under Arizona law, an aggravated domestic violence charge (ARS 13-3601.02) comes with enhanced penalties. This is a class 5 felony that can be punished with 1 to 7.5 years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines and victim restitution, mandatory anger management counseling, and community service.

In addition, domestic violence charges attached to violent crimes or assaults with a deadly weapon can come with enhanced penalties. In aggravated domestic violence cases, the convicted individual may not be eligible for probation pardon, release, or suspension or reduction of sentencing until at least the minimum jail term has been served.

An individual can face numerous other consequences outside of criminal sentencing for domestic violence charges. They can affect child custody, other family law matters, an individual’s job, reputation, and relationships with friends and family members. Finally, a felony conviction can restrict the individual’s constitutional rights, including the right to vote and bear arms.

What Are Potential Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona?

Domestic violence charges in Arizona can be life-changing. Depending on the base crime allegedly committed, you could be looking at months to years of jail or prison time in addition to many other major penalties. It is crucial to contact a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix who has experience defending domestic violence charges if you find yourself in this situation.

An attorney can custom-tailor a defense strategy for your specific case and circumstances. Defense options may include: 

  • Self-defense or defense of others (the use of reasonable force)
  • No blood relation or household relationship to the alleged victim
  • The alleged victim declines prosecution or witnesses do not cooperate
  • False accusations or exaggerations, such as an ex-spouse trying to get revenge
  • Constitutional violations committed by investigating police officers
  • Insufficient evidence, or failure to meet the burden of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”

Even if a domestic violence charge cannot be dismissed or acquitted, you may qualify for a court-approved diversion program in Arizona if you are a first-time offender. Your attorney can negotiate with a prosecutor to minimize the penalties and consequences you face for a domestic violence charge and achieve a favorable plea bargain.

Contact a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Phoenix 

If you are facing domestic violence accusations, contact an attorney as soon as possible about defending you. Do not attempt to communicate with the alleged victim or convince him or her to drop the charges. Instead, request a free and confidential case consultation with a criminal defense attorney at Snader Law Group without delay for personalized legal advice. Call us at (602) 825-3031 today.