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What if Victim Doesn't Want to Press Domestic Violence Charges?

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This is a question that we hear all the time at Colburn Hintze Maletta, PLLC. Whether on the Family Law or Criminal Defense side of our firm, domestic violence charges can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

Here is a scenario we often see: a couple gets into an argument that turns physical, whether that be an assault or damage to some items in their home. The police are called, often by one of the people involved in the argument or a concerned neighbor calling 911.

When the police respond, they separate the couple and interview both of them. After answering what seems like a few simple and sometimes irrelevant questions, the police decide to arrest one of the people involved in the argument and potentially charge them with domestic violence or domestic disturbance.

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What if a Domestic Violence Victim Doesn’t Want to Press Charges?

After the person is released from jail (or cited and released to stay somewhere else for the night), they will have a court date to appear and face the charges. At this point, the person’s partner often wonders if the prosecutor will drop the case if they, as the victim, do not want to press domestic violence charges.

Unfortunately, with Arizona domestic violence charges, once the police are involved and an arrest decision is made, the alleged victim cannot stop the process by simply saying that they don’t want their partner to be prosecuted.

Even if an alleged victim recants the statements that they made to police, Arizona prosecutors will often continue on with the prosecution. The reason behind this policy is the theory that domestic violence victims are often caught in a repeating cycle of domestic violence.

The Stigma of “Will this happen again?”

Prosecutors and police believe that if someone commits an act of domestic violence against their loved one, they may do so again, even if the couple has rekindled their relationship after an incident of domestic violence. This puts couples in a difficult situation.

There may be release conditions imposed by the court that prevent them from having contact with each other. The person facing charges may not even be allowed to come back to their home while the case is pending.

With such restrictive release conditions, and the prosecutor’s unwillingness to listen to the alleged victim, many people facing domestic violence charges believe they are hopeless and should accept a plea offer just so that they can start putting the incident behind them and getting back to their normal life. In this scenario, this is rarely the best course of action.

Before detailing what you should do if you are charged with Domestic Violence, it is important to understand what domestic violence charges actually mean in Arizona.

What is Considered Domestic Violence in Arizona?

A common misconception is that Domestic Violence is its own standalone crime in Arizona. This is not the case. Instead, Domestic Violence, under ARS 13-3601, is a classification that is attached to other crimes, such as assault, criminal damage, or disorderly conduct, based on the relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim.

A person can be charged with Domestic Violence as an aggravator to any of the following offenses:

  • Misdemeanor Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Aggravated Harassment and Misdemeanor Harassment
  • Child Abuse or Vulnerable Adult Abuse
  • Criminal Damage
  • Custodial Interference
  • Dangerous Crimes Against Children
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Endangerment
  • Interfering with Judicial Proceedings or Violating an Order of Protection
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter, Negligent Homicide, First-degree, and Second-degree Murder
  • Sexual Assault
  • Stalking
  • Surreptitious Photography or Video Recording
  • Threatening or Intimidating
  • Unlawful Disclosure of Images (Revenge Porn)
  • Unlawful Imprisonment

What Types of Relationships Fall Under the Category of Domestic Violence in Arizona?

Only certain relationships fall under the umbrella of Domestic Violence. The types of relationships are as follows:

  • Marriage (either current or former)
  • People residing in the same household (including roommates)
  • People who have a child in common
  • People who are pregnant by the other party (defendant or alleged victim)
  • Relatives: including parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, in-laws (brother, sister, parent, or grandparent), stepparents, step-grandparents, stepchildren, and step-grandchildren
  • If the victim is a child who is related by blood to the defendant’s former spouse and the child resides or resided in the same household as the defendant
  • If the victim is a child who is related to a person who resides or resided in the same household as the defendant
  • People in a romantic or sexual relationship

As you can see, Domestic Violence encompasses much more than just crimes committed against spouses or partners.

What should you do if you find yourself facing Domestic Violence charges?

If you are facing domestic violence charges, your best course of action is to hire an experienced domestic violence attorney. There is no time to waste when it comes to building a strong defense against these types of charges.

First things first, an attorney can file and argue a motion with the court to allow you to come back to your home and have contact with the alleged victim.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, you want to have the least amount of disruption in your life as possible, and second, you want to show the prosecutor and the court that you are able to live with your partner without issues.

Next, the best Domestic Violence attorney will gather and view all of the evidence in your case. This evidence may consist of 911 call recordings, security camera footage, photographs, body camera footage, police reports, and recorded interviews. After gathering these items, your attorney can interview witnesses, including police officers, with a focus on developing an aggressive defense to the charges.

A common thread among many cases involving domestic violence charges is that the police officers investigating the allegations often did not see what actually happened between the defendant and the alleged victim. A Domestic Violence defense attorney can capitalize on this during their own investigation and prove that the officers may have made an arrest based on unreliable information.

In some cases, the alleged victim will only claim that they are the victim of domestic violence to avoid their own arrest. They don’t want to tell the police the full truth, so they only tell the half of the story that portrays them in a better light.

If the alleged victim started the physical altercation and the defendant was merely trying to prevent physical harm to their person or property, then there may be a defense to the charges. The defendant may be able to claim self-defense or defense of their property if the case goes to trial.

Some people believe that if an alleged victim of domestic violence has injuries that appear consistent with their version of the events, a case is unwinnable. But this is far from the truth. The mere presence of injuries will not tell the full story.

The attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta, PLLC, have successfully defended against numerous Domestic Violence charges in which an alleged victim had injuries that corroborated their story. However, by taking the time to conduct a comprehensive and aggressive investigation, our attorneys have been able to secure complete case dismissals, not-guilty verdicts, and reduced charges, even in cases involving injuries to the alleged victim.

Facing Domestic Violence charges can disrupt your life even before a conviction. You may lose your job, be unable to live in your own home, and be separated from your significant other by court order.

If you are convicted of Domestic Violence, you can face probation, jail, prison, substantial fines, loss of your gun rights, and be required to take months of domestic violence classes.

When You Need Help from an Elite Arizona Domestic Violence Lawyer, Call Colburn Hintze Maletta, PLLC

If you have been charged with Domestic Violence, don’t attempt to rely on the alleged victim telling the prosecutor that they don’t want to press charges. Unfortunately, this is not the silver bullet that many people hope for. Instead, the best thing you can do is find an attorney who knows how to handle Domestic Violence cases and is not afraid to take the case to trial to prove your innocence.

The attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta, PLLC, have extensive experience defending people accused of Domestic Violence charges and a track record of successful results.

Our attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and strategies to get you the best possible result in your Domestic Violence case. Call Colburn Hintze Maletta, PLLC, at (602) 825-2500 to see how an elite Domestic Violence lawyer can help you build a successful defense.

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