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Domestic Violence Charges – Standard vs. Aggravated

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Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona

In Arizona, domestic violence is treated seriously by the courts. Domestic violence is not a separate crime but is instead a sentence enhancer that can apply to multiple other charges. An offense can be designated as a domestic violence crime when the defendant and the alleged victim have a qualifying type of relationship.

Some common examples of domestic violence offenses can include the following:

  • Assault with domestic violence
  • Criminal damage with domestic violence
  • Disorderly conduct with domestic violence
  • Trespassing with domestic violence
  • Interference with judicial proceedings with domestic violence
  • Unlawful imprisonment with domestic violence
  • Preventing the use of the phone in an emergency with domestic violence

Many other offenses can also be charged as domestic violence offenses. If you have been accused of a crime with a domestic violence designation attached, you should talk to an experienced domestic violence lawyer at Colburn Hintze Maletta.

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Domestic Violence Charges

Arizona Domestic Violence Laws

The domestic violence statute is found at ARS 13-3601. Under this statute, a criminal offense can be considered an act of domestic violence when the defendant and the alleged victim have one of the following relationships:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Currently or formerly lived together
  • The alleged victim is pregnant with the defendant’s child
  • The defendant and alleged victim are biologically or legally related
  • The defendant lives in the same home with a child victim and is related through a former spouse or by blood
  • The defendant and alleged victim are, or were previously, sexually or romantically involved

To determine whether a domestic relationship exists, courts consider the following factors:

  • The type of relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim
  • How long the relationship has lasted, or did last
  • How frequently the defendant and the alleged victim interacted with each other
  • Whether the relationship has ended or is ongoing, and if it has been ended, how much time has passed since it ended

After considering these factors, a prosecutor might add a domestic violence designation to the criminal offense that has been charged.

A domestic violence enhancement can increase the penalties that someone might face and add additional requirements if the person is convicted.

Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenses

Many domestic violence-designated crimes are class 1 misdemeanors. This is the most severe classification of misdemeanor offenses. However, certain domestic violence offenses can be classified as felonies.

For example, if your charged offense involved serious bodily injuries, a weapon, or if the victim was a child, you can be charged with a felony.

If the victim is a child, the offense could also be considered a dangerous crime against children (DCAC) with serious penalties, depending on the alleged victim’s age and the specific offense.

For a conviction of a class 1 misdemeanor domestic violence-designated offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Up to $2,500 in fines
  • Surcharges and fees
  • Probation for up to 3 years
  • Mandatory counseling and domestic violence classes

Some domestic violence offenses are class 2 misdemeanors. If you are convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor domestic violence offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to 120 days in jail
  • Fine of up to $750
  • Surcharges and fees
  • Probation for up to 2 years
  • Domestic violence counseling and classes

If you are convicted of a class 3 misdemeanor domestic violence offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Fine of up to $500
  • Surcharges and fees
  • Domestic violence counseling and classes
  • Up to 1 year of probation

A domestic violence conviction will also suspend your gun rights, meaning you will not be able to possess a firearm.

The penalties you might face for a felony domestic violence crime will depend on its classification and your criminal history.

Some examples of felony crimes that can be charged as domestic violence offenses include the following:

  • Manslaughter
  • Criminally negligent homicide
  • First or second-degree murder
  • Aggravated assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Harassment
  • Sexual assault of a minor
  • Criminal damage
  • Child abuse
  • Criminal trespass
  • Custodial interference
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Vulnerable adult abuse
  • Stalking
  • Endangerment
  • Threatening or intimidating
  • Unlawful imprisonment
  • Surreptitious photography
  • Unlawful disclosure of images
  • Interfering with judicial proceedings

These types of offenses can result in sentences to years in prison. In the case of sexual assault of a minor who is 12 or younger, a domestic violence conviction for this offense could result in a sentence of life in prison.

Aggravated Domestic Violence in Arizona

Under ARS 13-3601.02, you can face aggravated domestic violence charges if you are convicted of a third domestic violence-designated offense within 84 months. You can be charged with a class 5 felony even if the underlying offense is normally a misdemeanor.

For this offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Minimum mandatory four months of jail with probation and up to a maximum of 2.5 years in prison, if you do not have any prior felony convictions
  • Mandatory domestic violence counseling and classes
  • Not eligible for probation until after serving at least four months in jail
  • Fine of up to $150,000

If you are convicted of aggravated domestic violence and you have previously been convicted of three or more domestic violence offenses within the last 84 months, then you will face the following penalties:

  • Minimum mandatory eight months of jail with probation and up to a maximum of 2.5 years in prison, if you do not have any prior felony convictions
  • Mandatory domestic violence counseling and classes
  • Not eligible for probation until after serving at least eight months in jail
  • Fine of up to $150,000

If you are convicted of aggravated domestic violence and you have a prior felony conviction, you will face a range of 1 to 3.75 years in prison. If you have two or more prior felony convictions, then you will face a range of 3 to 7.5 years in prison for a class 5 felony aggravated domestic violence conviction.

What Happens if the Alleged Victim Wants to Drop the Charges?

Many alleged victims of domestic violence later regret contacting the police and try to ask the court or prosecutor to drop the charges. However, the alleged victim in a domestic violence case does not have the authority to dismiss criminal charges, and prosecutors generally will not agree to do so.

Prosecutors can also compel reluctant victims to testify in court through subpoenas. So, if a victim in a domestic violence case wants to drop the charges, the prosecution will typically continue.

Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges

Most domestic violence cases involve allegations made by one person against the other when they are involved in a relationship. A couple might have an argument, and either a neighbor or one of the people will call the police. When the police respond, someone is likely to be arrested. In most cases, the only people who witnessed what happened are the two people involved.

If the alleged victim makes statements to the police officer at the scene, those statements may be be considered inadmissible hearsay unless he or she testifies in court.

If there is no other evidence, and the alleged victim does not come to court, the prosecutor might be forced to dismiss the case since the victim’s statements cannot be introduced without his or her direct testimony.

Unless an exception applies, out-of-court hearsay statements are not allowed to be admitted at trial because the defendant would not have the ability to cross-examine the alleged victim about the statements.

Other potential defenses that might apply can include the following:

  • False allegations
  • No criminal intent to cause injuries
  • Self-defense
  • No domestic relationship

Some people falsely accuse others of committing acts of domestic violence to get revenge or to get the defendants out of their homes. For example, if the couple is going through a divorce, one party might falsely accuse the other of domestic violence to secure a restraining order against the accused spouse. This type of order can prevent the accused spouse from coming to the home. A lawyer might want copies of the divorce paperwork and interview other witnesses to raise this type of defense.

In some cases, a person might be accidentally injured without the defendant’s intent to cause injury or harm. Property might also be damaged without intent to cause the damage or without a reckless act.

If the defendant lacks the required intent for the underlying offense, the prosecutor may be forced to dismiss the case when it is an element of the crime.

Self-defense is another common defense raised in domestic violence cases. This type of defense might be available if you were defending yourself against the alleged victim when he or she was the actual perpetrator.

Why it is Important to Hire an Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges that have been designated as domestic violence, getting immediate help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer is critical. Criminal cases involve complex evidentiary rules. People who are charged with crimes of domestic violence also face harsh penalties if they are convicted.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you to understand the court process and the rules that apply to help you with your case. In many cases, a good domestic violence lawyer can secure a much more favorable resolution to a case than a defendant might secure on his or her own.

People who try to represent themselves are at a disadvantage when they try to negotiate with the prosecutor.

The prosecutor might try to take advantage of a defendant’s lack of legal knowledge and experience to get them to enter into a plea agreement by threatening harsher penalties if they do not accept the offer.

A lawyer can thoroughly investigate your case and look for issues in the state’s case against you. He or she can also gather all the evidence that the state is using against you, including recordings, police reports, body cam footage, victim impact statements, 911 calls, witness statements, and others.

Reviewing all the evidence that the state is using against you can help your attorney to find any weaknesses in the state’s case so that you can be placed in a better position.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that they can talk their way out of criminal charges. You should never make this mistake.

The police and prosecutors can use anything that you say against you. Even if you think that you are helping yourself, you should instead invoke your right to remain silent and to have an attorney represent you. Your lawyer can help you to avoid making critical errors that could harm your defense case.

Finally, defense lawyers have completed years of education and keep current with new court decisions and other changes in the law. Your attorney can use his or her legal knowledge and litigation skills to secure the best possible resolution in your case under the facts and circumstances.

Get Help from an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

If you are facing a charge involving an allegation of domestic violence, you should talk to an experienced domestic violence lawyer at Colburn Hintze Maletta. We are experienced lawyers who have defended many people who have been charged with crimes involving domestic violence. We understand the stakes that might be involved and are focused on helping you to secure the best outcome possible.

Your lawyer can appear in court on your behalf and will keep you updated on everything that occurs in your case. We can also ask the court to modify any mandatory restraining order that has been issued.

To learn more about how we can help you, call us today at (602) 825-2500.

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Client Testimonials

Arizona attorney Darin Colburn

“The calm in the middle of my storm…”

I, recently, consulted with Darin after my wife filed for divorce. He was referred to me by a friend whom I very much trust. Darin was the antithesis of the first two attorneys I consulted (who were matter-of-fact and had very little empathy about the fact that I was struggling emotionally with what was transpiring). From the first few minutes of speaking with Darin, it was obvious that he was very knowledgeable and skilled with divorce and family matters. While that was most important to me, the thing that made the difference was his calming, logical, and empathetic approach. He took the time to listen and empathize with me. He took the time to understand what I wanted to achieve through this process and laid out my options. After the consultation, I knew he would be my attorney if I had to pull the trigger. I, ultimately, didn’t have to engage Darin’s services due to a reconciliation with my wife. I hope I never have to go through that process again, however, if I do, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt who I will be hiring to represent me…Darin R. Colburn. Darin, thank you for caring and being more than an attorney.

Frank - AVVO Review

Divorce / Reconciliation Client
Attorney David Maletta

“There is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David”

I hired David Maletta and it was the best decision of my life. His knowledge, genuine interest, overall attitude, and ability to connect with people is incomparable. I could talk about all of this at length. I COULD do all of that, but that wouldn’t do David justice. He first and foremost demonstrates his interest and genuine care for his client. Being in uncharted territory with a criminal charge and nowhere to turn, David’s presence and personality put all nerves at ease. I went through a jury trial with David beside me. The trial ran for 3 days and I spent a significant amount of time with David one-on-one. During this stressful time, he wanted to hear my input and thoughts on everything. David was incredible from the first day I met him. Not only is he a great attorney, but he is also a great person who cares about people and finding justice for his clients. He connects to the human side of people. I can’t put into words how much David cares about the individual in a case. When it comes to the courtroom, there is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David.

Jacob - AVVO Review

DUI Defense Client
Arizona attorney Darin Colburn

“Because of Darin I got my daughter back”

Before I hired Darin I went through a total of 3 different attorneys in two different states fighting a jurisdiction battle, when my daughter was taken to a different state. It was a very difficult decision to switch attorneys at one of the most difficult, time sensitive and important times in my case, but I’m very glad I did. Upon receiving my file from previous attorneys Darin came very familiar with my case quickly. Like other people have explained he took the time to lay everything out and explain how the process was going to proceed and what to expect and continued to do this as new issues arrived. He is also very quick at responding to emails and phone calls. My case was getting close to trial as told by my previous attorneys, I did not want to go to trial as I know this is very costly (most attorneys will convince you that you need to.) Darin knew my situation, fought for what was right and got the results I wanted while avoiding a costly trial. He is extremely knowledgeable in the Child Support Guidelines as well. Because of Darin I got my daughter back. I would highly recommend him and would hire again for any future issues. Thanks Darin!

Chris - AVVO Review

Child Custody & Support Client
Attorney David Maletta

“I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.”

Dave stayed with me while he pushed back and forth with Covid-19 and the delays with court. Once cited, the state basically decides that you’re guilty through the automatic suspension of your drivers license. Dave immediately took care of that problem and I never lost the privilege of driving. Dave took notes like crazy and was upfront about our uphill battle. I was also well aware that the plea deal that was given to us, was unacceptable and through Dave’s knowledge and experience I had put my trust in him to guide me to make the right decision on how to proceed. With Dave’s guidance I had decided that we needed to fight for something better than what the prosecutor was offering and Dave was 100 percent behind me on that decision. We knew the risks, be we also knew we had very little to lose based on the prosecutions stance. We decided to go to trialWatching the prosecution and then watching Dave was night and day!! It was clear to the jury that the prosecution didn’t have their facts straight and were not addressing the facts that they could not address…There was a lot at stake for my personal life and my work life. I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.

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Arizona Attorney Timothy Hintze

“Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently”

I had an incident and was Given the catch-all charge. There wasn’t really anything I could do by myself to get out of it. Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently to ensure that I would have the best possible outcome from my case. Which he successfully achieved! As of right now I am on the path to having my case fully dismissed. A couple things that really helped me through this process was that Tim did an amazing job at was answering my questions. He was available almost anytime and would respond promptly when he got my emails. He was also very approachable and comforting to be around while we had in person meetings and especially when I was at the court house. I would trust him and the company he works for with any other cases in the future and as of right now they will be my first choice if I need a lawyer in the future.

Dylan - AVVO Review

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Arizona Attorney Timothy Hintze

“Listens to every request that you make on a case”

I honestly just want to let it be known to any and everyone looking for an attorney on a case. Whether it be DUI, possession, or your every day to day traffic violations where you need representation attorney Tim Hintze is your man. You have to respect a man that listens to every request that you make on a case and he gets in there and gets it done. Tim has my respect as an attorney and being a well-rounded representer. From him being honest on the possibility and options for your case to him being easy to work and communicate with via over the phone or face to face Mr. Hintze is working it out.

Ben - AVVO Review

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