Robert Gruler here. Today we’re talking about domestic violence in Arizona, what that means, how this is charged, how a case progresses, and what you can do if you’ve been charged with domestic violence. So the first thing that we want to note is that domestic violence is not, by itself, its own specific charge in Arizona. It’s something that is actually tacked onto other different criminal charges. So, for example, if you’re charged with assault, and that assault involved a domestic relationship, or if you’re charged with trespassing, or disorderly conduct, those things can happen by themselves. They can happen out in a bar, or out at a football game, or something where there is not another individual involved that would constitute a domestic relationship. And so, those can be crimes by themselves.
But when you introduced another person who is in a relationship with you, or you’re related to by blood, or whatever that is, and we’ll talk about those factors shortly, that will take that original crime like assault or trespass, and then they’ll tack on the domestic violence charge on there. It’s a different statute. And so, that becomes a domestic violence offense. So it’s important to make that distinction. So people will sometimes call us, and they’ll say, I’ve been charged with domestic violence, but they won’t recognize that there are other violations that are associated with that. So the government needs to prove the elements of the underlying offense. And then they need to prove the elements of the domestic relationship to make that a domestic violence offense. So we’ll talk about that. So let’s grab the white board. And we’ll talk about what actually constitutes a domestic relationship.
So I’ve written out the part of the statute here. And what we’re looking at is what actually constitutes a domestic relationship. So say there’s an assault case that happened, and now the government is trying to show that there was a domestic relationship. And so, these are some of the factors that will come into play. So you can see here, number one, there is a domestic relationship when there was a marriage. So a couple was married, or they were formally married, and then something else happened. So if that relationship exists, and there was an assault, or there was a trespass, or there was disorderly conduct, that underlying crime now becomes a domestic violence offense because of that relationship. Another way that that relationship is established is if a couple has a child together, if the victim was pregnant with the person who’s being charged with the offense.
That will take that offense and will elevate it to a domestic violence offense. If they were, the people who were involved, that there was a blood relationship or if they were in-laws together, that is another way that this can be elevated. When this happened, if there was a child victim, and they were in the home, that’s another way. And finally, and this is probably the most common way that we see it, if there was a romantic or a sexual relationship that was occurring or had occurred between the two people who are involved in the incident, that will make it, or categorize it, as a domestic violence offense. And so, sometimes people will ask, well, we’re not in a domestic relationship anymore. We’re not seeing each other. We’re not intimate with one another anymore. So how does that still count as a domestic violence offense? How does that elevate it into that category? Well, the court and the law said they will look at certain different factors. And so, these, I have them listed here. But what the court will do is they’ll look at the nature of the relationship. They’ll look at the length of the relationship. They’ll look at the frequency of contact between the two people.
And then they’ll look at whether the relationship is still ongoing, or whether it’s been terminated. And if it has been terminated, for how long has it been terminated. So there are these different factors that they’ll go through. They’ll say, the nature, was this a one-off type of a situation where they were not in an extended relationship, or they just met, had a fun night together, and they ran into a bad incident? Was it something that was very short in time, or was it an ongoing, long, extended relationship? How often did they communicate with each other? Is this something that they spoke once every six months, or were they seeing each other every day? That’s a very high frequency.
And was it terminated, or is it still ongoing? So the court will look through these different elements, and they’ll say, okay, based on one of these different criteria, we do believe that there was a domestic relationship. And therefore, the domestic portion of that charge will be considered to be valid. So that is important. And this, of course, can be one of the main areas that you start building your defense around. So if you can show that there was no domestic relationship, if none of these elements are met, then the underlying offense, or the assault, or the criminal damage, or the disorderly conduct may have occurred, but the aggravators of the domestic violence statute are not present; and therefore, they can’t charge that. And so, that’s how that works. And so, that is a very case-specific analysis that’s going to depend very, very specifically on your particular circumstances, and of course, the other party’s who are involved. Now, let’s talk about who is actually involved.
So say these elements are met, and you are charged, or somebody that you love is being charged with this offense. Let’s talk about who is involved as this case goes through the criminal courts and the criminal justice system. So let’s back up a little bit, and let’s talk about what usually happens. This is kind of covering the vast majority of cases that we see, that our firm deals with. Something will happen in somebody’s home. So you’ll have a couple. You’ll have couple A, and you’ll have couple B, and they will be at home. They will get into a dispute. Somebody sees some text messages on a phone. They get into an argument about something that happened three years ago. Whatever that situation is, it’s usually between two people who are in a relationship together.
They get into an argument. Somebody calls the police. Usually B calls on A, let’s say. And the police get involved. So the police come. We will call them cops. The cops come. They come over. They interview everybody, and they decide that there was some disorderliness. There was an assault. Somebody touched somebody, or somebody was fearful of being touched. And because they’re in a relationship together, that assault now rises up to a domestic violence offense. So then what happens is A gets arrested. A gets hauled off to jail. They see the judge. The judge says, okay, A, based on what is being alleged against you here, you cannot return home. You cannot go back home. You cannot have any contact with B. Because of the fact that this is a domestic violence situation, they’re concerned that there will be continual domestic violence. And so, the court says, A cannot go back home. So now A is over here. They may have kids together. They may share finances. A may not have another place to live. The whole situation may have been completely over-blown. But the fact is, the court says A cannot go back there.
This is what’s called release conditions. And so, currently there are release conditions that say that this communication cannot happen. That’s what we see very often. Most cases, the court just has a very cut and dry rule. At least until the case progresses a little bit further, that if A is being released from jail, they cannot go back home. So this is obviously very problematic. So one of the first things that we do when we are retained, and people enlist our help to help them through this situation, is we try to restore this connection so long as all parties agree that this is appropriate. So, like I said earlier, in many situations, there really is no reason for this to be so disconnected. A and B, they do have children together. They have lives together. And so, they want to re-unify. And so, we go in, and we ask the court to make that connection. Allow A to go back home. Allow A to have communication with B, so long as it’s not rising to the level of anything that B doesn’t want, as long as it’s not unwanted, as long as it’s not hostile, or aggressive, or any of those things. And so, in most cases, we are able to kind of re-unify the family and the couple, and A is able to go back home while the case is pending.
But it certainly depends. Sometimes the prosecutor will object to that. And we’ll talk about that in a minute. So after this arrest, all this happens. The officer will file charges with the city prosecutor. And so now you have a prosecutor. This is the label for a prosecutor. And then you’ve got the defendant, which is, in this case, it’s going to be A. And you’re going to have a judge. And so all of these different people are involved as the case progresses. You’re going to have multiple pre-trial conferences. You’re going to have an arraignment. You’re going to have plea negotiations. You’re going to have communication back and forth essentially between all of these different parties. Now, B, in this case, is also going to have a victims advocate. So they have sort of their own unit that’s usually tied up with the prosecutor’s office and the government who’s representing the victim. In a domestic violence situation, the victim, whether they want to be the victim any longer or not, whether they believe they’re the victim or not, they are the person who is legally the victim of the case.
And so they have somebody in the victim’s advocate who is going to be representing their interests. And as the case progresses, there is communication between these two about what the victim wants out of it. In many cases, they don’t want this to go any further. They want this to be dropped. Somebody called the police unnecessarily. The whole situation was over-blown. There was alcohol involved. There was heated emotions involved. There’s many reasons why these things will escalate to the level that involve police. But generally, they calm back down. And everybody wants to just set this aside. They want to put this away and continue on with their lives, but the government will not allow that to happen in most cases. So a big question we get all the time is, okay, so A will come and speak with us, and they’ll say, all right, well, we spoke with B who is the victim of the case, and they don’t want to be involved in this any further. Can they just drop the case? Can B talk to the victim’s advocate? Can B talk to the prosecutor and ask them to just dismiss this case all together and move on? Well the short answer is no. They can’t. So they can influence the prosecutor.
But if B does not want to be involved any further, and they want to drop the charges, it’s still up to the prosecutor to decide whether or not to do that. Public policy is dictating the prosecutor to move forward with the case. They don’t want situations where they believe that A may be going to B and exercising undue influence on them, in other words, is coercing them into dropping the charges. And so, they will not do that. They do not want the victim to recant their story. They’ll move forward with the case even though the whole thing really should be resolved. The court system doesn’t need to be involved in it, but they’ll continue to move forward with it. So just simply not having an active victim, or having somebody recant, will not end the case there. Now, that does provide us some other opportunities. Okay, because as the case progresses, the government needs this person, B, the victim, in the vast majority of cases, they need this individual to come into court and testify against A. Because realistically, there is nobody else involved. None of these people, the officer, the judge, the prosecutor, the victims advocate, nobody else saw what actually happened in this house.
They were not there. And so, they need B, the victim, to come into court and testify against A. If that doesn’t happen, legally speaking, there really is no evidence. A is not going to take the stand and admit a bunch of things. There’s a right against incriminating yourself under the constitution. A is not going to go in and say, I did all of these things and admit it. And if B is not going to be around, or involved, or cooperative, the government really has very little that they can actually go on. In most situations, there are not witnesses, there are not external third-parties who can come in. Another question that we get very frequently is, okay, so say that B does not want to be involved in the case any further, and my chart here is a mess but follow along. Let’s say that B does not want to be involved in the case. B is concerned that they told the officer what happened. B is saying, they come to our office, or A comes to our office, and they say, okay, B told us that they told the officer all of this stuff happened. So what about the officer coming into court and telling the judge and telling the prosecutor what B said. Can the officer tell the court what B said?
In most cases, the answer is no. That’s what’s called hearsay. That’s a type of language that cannot come into court. It’s a statement made outside of the court that cannot come in, because A cannot cross-examine B’s statements after they go through C. It’s like the game of telephone. One person says something to somebody else. That person says something to somebody else. And things get twisted. Now you can’t connect the dots all the way back. A doesn’t have the opportunity to cross-examine B if those statements are going through C. So that statement cannot come in. So the government needs B specifically to come in. It’s a first-hand account. To come in and say very specifically about what happened. If they cannot make that connection then that language, that testimony, whatever B told to C, is not relevant. It cannot come into court. It’s not admissible. So this is kind of a very rudimentary way of how this works. In reality, there’s a lot of exceptions to this hearsay rule.
There’s 22 exceptions to that rule. And so, it’s very, very detail oriented, very kind of fact-intensive analysis that we go through to make sure that this is going to be structured properly. We certainly also want to remember that the victim in Arizona, B in this situation, the victim has a Bill of Rights. There are certain things that we cannot do. We cannot go out an interview them. We cannot proactively go out and make contact with them. And so, there are very, very, very specific rules that we have to follow in order to make sure that what we’re doing is not violating B’s rights, and that we’re also doing that while we’re protecting A. And so, it is something that requires an intensive fact analysis. It means we’re getting police reports. We’re getting officer’s notes. We’re getting 911 calls.
We’re getting any victim statements. We’re getting any neighbors, any other witness statements. We’re going through a very, very rigorous and very comprehensive analysis to make sure that, however we decide to proceed, we’re ready, we’re prepared, and we know that we’re not going to be putting ourselves into a hole.
So if you’ve been charged with domestic violence, if somebody you know or somebody you love has been charged with domestic violence, it’s very important to come in, speak with our team, speak with myself about your specific facts, your case. And we can make sure that you have a very comprehensive, very strong plan moving forward. Thank you.
Domestic violence in Arizona is a very broad term and can be applied to a number of different charges.
The term “domestic violence” is not by itself an independent crime. Instead, other crimes are alleged have a domestic violence designation attached.
This is often confused and people think they are charged with “domestic violence” when in reality, they are charged with a particular offense, like disorderly conduct, assault, threatening or intimidation with a domestic violence designation.
Some common examples we see:
- Assault / Domestic Violence
- Disorderly Conduct / Domestic Violence
- Interference with Judicial Proceedings / Domestic Violence
- Preventing Use of Phone in Emergency / Domestic Violence
- Unlawful Imprisonment / Domestic Violence
- Threatening / Intimidating / Domestic Violence
- Criminal Damage / Domestic Violence
- Trespassing / Domestic Violence
These are just a few examples. In reality, most misdemeanor or felony offenses involving another person can be designated domestic violence.
Today we’re talking about aggravated domestic violence. This is a felony in Arizona that happens if a person has other prior domestic violence convictions. So domestic violence by itself is not a crime, it is a designation that’s added on to other offenses. So, let’s say that there was an assault, somebody hits somebody, or there was some disorderly conduct, there was an argument and that conduct happened between people who were in a domestic relationship, that original charge, the original assault or the disorderly conduct are going to be designated domestic violence offenses because they happen between family members or between a couple who is in a romantic relationship.
That’s how it gets designated a domestic violence offense. So aggravated domestic violence occurs when somebody has already had prior domestic violence convictions, and specifically, when they’ve had two prior convictions. On the third domestic violence allegation they can file that as an aggravated domestic violence charge. The statue’s 13-3601.02 and it says that on your third or more domestic violence charges they can charge that as a felony. It’s a class five felony. So if you’ve got prior convictions those will stack up against you. But we don’t go back forever, we only go back seven years.
It’s 84 months is what the statute says, so if you have a domestic violence conviction and the date of the offense, when it actually happened was 85 months away, that’s not going to accumulate. That’s not going to be counted towards the total number of domestic violence convictions here, it only goes back seven years. Anything beyond that is not counted in terms of aggravating the original charges or the new charge to an aggravated level. So, the penalties are pretty strict for this. So if you’re convicted of an aggravated domestic violence offense, even if it’s your first felony, you have to serve four months of jail.
Okay the law says that if you’ve got two prior domestic violence convictions, so misdemeanor convictions, and you’ve got two of those, on the third one, if you’re convicted here, you go to jail for four months. It’s in the law, it’s mandatory. You cannot get around that. The judge can’t commute it. The judge can’t do anything about it. You have to go to jail for four months. If you’ve got prior felony convictions, you have to be very cautious about that. You’re going to have to look to the felony sentencing charge to see what the prosecutor may be offering you. As I said this is a class five felony, so these are just the minimums. The four months is just the minimum. If you’ve got prior felony convictions, the prosecutor can offer you the presumptive term on a class five or aggravated, or do whatever they want, move you into category three or category two depending upon your priors. If you have three prior convictions, so this is going to be your fourth domestic violence conviction, you go to jail for eight months.
Okay, so it goes from four months all the way up to eight months and it just gets worse from there, because now you will have prior felony convictions. So remember it’s about a conviction. So many people who are charged with domestic violence offenses, they take a class, they go through a diversion program. Many city courts offer diversion programs where you just go through a series of classes, or 26 weeks, or 52 weeks or whatever it is you’re sentenced to, and as long as you do that successfully, that is dismissed, so you don’t have a conviction. So that dismissed case is not going to be applicable here. It’s going to be gone. It’s not going to be considered a conviction, in terms of aggravating it.
So if you have actual convictions, and you have a third charge, that’s when it goes from a misdemeanor, from a class one misdemeanor, up to a class five felony, which is quite serious. Now the same defenses that apply in any domestic violence case would apply here. You still want to actually go after the underlying charge, and dispute whether the assault happened, dispute whether there was any disorderliness, dispute whether there was any physical contact, whether there was any trespassing, or anything like that.
You want to make sure that you’re disputing those, because this only aggravates the charge, it just makes the penalty significantly worse, but all of the same defenses, and I’ve got other videos about this, all of the same defenses in a domestic violence case are still applicable here, so you may want to refer to those videos to see what those are, but this is just how the sentencing works. So if you are charged with aggravated domestic violence, you’re going to have to understand that you’re looking at mandatory jail, so you want to make sure that you’ve got a robust defense, you’ve got a good defense team behind you.
That’s what we do here at R&R Law Group, we only do defense law, we don’t do anything else, so we’d be happy to sit down with you, offer a free case evaluation make sure you have a good plan to move forward successfully. Thanks for watching.
As previously explained, the domestic violence indicator can be added to underlying offenses are present. Under the Arizona Revised Statutes, 13-3601, a crime can be considered a domestic violence offense when any of the following apply:
- The people who were involved were married or formerly married or live or lived in the same household.
- The people involved have a child together
- The victim is pregnant with child of the person who is being charged
- The person accused of the offense are related either by blood or by law
- The person charged lives lives in the same residence as a child victim and is related by blood or a former spouse
- The alleged victim and the defendant were involved romantically or sexually
Many times, deciphering what this means is not as easy as it may sound. Relationships end, people move on, and it is hard to define what is romantic or sexual in certain circumstances.
In those cases, the law provides indicia or certain factors that the court can consider when determining whether there is a domestic relationship. They can include:
- The nature of the relationship between the person being accused of the crime and the alleged victim of the crime
- The length of time of the relationship, if current, or how long it went on if not current
- How often the person accused and the alleged victim interacted with one another
- Whether the relationship is ongoing or if it has been terminated, and if it was terminated, how long since the relationship ended
Based on these factors, prosecutors may decide there was a domestic relationship and tack on the domestic violence designation on top of other offenses.
When this happens, this can increase penalties and impose additional limitations during the pending case.
What is Considered Domestic Violence in Arizona?
In this video we’re talking about a very common designation for criminal offenses known as domestic violence.
You can see I have a ton of stuff on this whiteboard. We’re going to fly through it.
It’s important to know domestic violence is an additional kind of aggravator that they tack on to other charges, so domestic violence by itself is not a crime. It’s a crime that’s attached to other crimes.
And so we’ll run through what those are, but first we need to talk about what is a domestic relationship or what would constitute a relationship that would be an aggravator onto another crime?
And the law gives us some very clear parameters that we focus on to determine whether or not there was a domestic relationship. So let’s dive into it.
So first of all there must be a relationship between the defendant, the triangle is the symbol for defendant in criminal law, and the victim.
I put the victim in quotes because that’s what the law uses, that’s the language that’s in the statute, but there’s some good arguments sort of on a layman’s terms as to whether that person is actually a victim. That’s a whole different video. But we’re talking about the relationship between the defendant, the person charged with the crime, and the victim, the person who is the recipient of the conduct. So let’s jump into it.
First of all if there was a marriage, whether it’s a former marriage or an actual marriage or there was, somebody was residing or resided in the same household.
If there is that relationship, if either one of those things happened, that’s enough to constitute a domestic relationship. If the people who are involved, the defendant and the victim, have a child in common that’s going to be a domestic relationship. If either the defendant or the victim is pregnant by the other individual that’s enough to constitute a domestic relationship.
Similarly if the victim is related to the defendant or to the defendant’s spouse by blood or by in-laws that’s going to constitute a domestic relationship.
So we’re talking about in-laws, we’re talking about stepchildren. If there’s a blood or a law relationship between the victim and the defendant or the defendant’s spouse in that household or actually outside of the household as well, that’s going to be enough.
If the victim is the child, is a child victim, and they’re in the same household as the defendant and they’re related by blood to the spouse or they’re another resident that will be enough. So if there’s a child who is the victim of some conduct and these parameters exist that’s going to be a domestic relationship as well.
And then finally, this is probably the most common, if there’s a current or a previous romantic or sexual relationship between the defendant and the victim that’s going to make it a domestic relationship.
So the law also gives us some guidance. Sometimes relationships come and go, sometimes they’re kind of fleeting, sometimes they’re long-term and so the court says that in order to determine whether there is a current or a previous romantic or a sexual relationship we want to look at things like the type of the relationship that was happening.
We want to look at the length of the relationship, so how long was the underlying relationship actually going on?
We want to look at the frequency of the interaction between the two individuals, so was this an everyday relationship, was this a once a month hook up type of situation, what was the length, what was the frequency of the interaction?
And then finally the time since the relationship has dissolved, so if the relationship is no longer in place how long has it been since that relationship was over?
The court will consider those four factors. They’re all defined in the statute which, by the way, is 13-36-01 and then that’s how you can determine whether or not there’s a current or a past romantic or sexual relationship.
So this is very important to the defenses of domestic violence. If you can show that there is no domestic relationship or that these factors weigh in favor against supporting a domestic relationship the whole charge is going to be non-designated.
It’s not going to be designated a DV offense, which is a good thing. So these are the different crimes that are permissible under the statute to have that domestic violence designation on them and there’s a lot of them so I’ll run through them quickly, but the big ones that we’ll talk about are the assaults or the things in red. So the assault, trespass, criminal damage, and so on.
But first and foremost we’ve got negligent homicide, so if there’s a death negligent homicide, manslaughter, second-degree murder, first-degree murder. If any of those things happened and there’s a domestic relationship under any one of these different elements here they can tack that on.
All right, those are serious crimes, you don’t see a whole lot of ’em.
Similarly endangerment. Threatening or intimidating somebody. And a big one that we see very frequently is assault. Assaults in my other videos I’ve spoken about it, it’s very, very easy to be charged with assault.
So if there’s any contact at all, if somebody feels like they’re in apprehension of being contacted you can be charged with assault for that.
And if this happens in a situation where a couple gets into an argument, somebody bumps somebody, something happens they’ll charge you with assault, they’ll tack it on as a domestic violence designation.
It goes from a kind of a regular, low-level misdemeanor assault into a more serious domestic violence assault because domestic violence has some additional penalties.
We’ll get to those in different videos. Other things aggravated assault, custodial interference.
We’ve got unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, sexual assault. This one’s called nude photos, so if you’re sending nude photos or kind of exploitive photos to other people that’s a crime. They can charge that as domestic violence.
Similarly trespass, so trespass is very common. Somebody will be asked to leave the residence, they’ll come back into the residence, boom, that’s trespass if it involved a domestic relationship they’ll tack on the domestic violence designation.
Criminal damage, this happens a lot as well.
Somebody will break bowl, somebody will break a plate, the neighbors will call the cops. Because this all happened in the context of a relationship it will be a criminal damage plus domestic violence designation. Interference with judicial proceedings is IJP, that means that a judge has said that you cannot do something, you did it anyway.
It that involves a domestic relationships they’ll tack on that DV charge. Disorderly conduct is probably by far the most common we see. I put a star here for that reason.
Disorderly conduct is extremely vague. It basically means that you’re disturbing the peace, the well-being of other people.
So we see this a lot when couples get into arguments, a neighbor calls the police on ’em. Well, they’re both shouting. It’s an argument, people have arguments. It’s a normal part of relationships.
But the police can show up.
They can say, “Okay, well they’re in a “romantic or sexual relationship under this part “of the statute and it’s disorderly conduct “because it’s disturbing the neighbors.” Boom, somebody is getting arrested, usually the male.
Other crimes that you can be charged with and be designated a domestic violence offense. Animal cruelty.
So this one’s a little surprising, but if there’s an animal involved and there’s some cruelty to that animal, somebody kicks a dog or something like that and it’s under the confines of DV, another DV designation.
Preventing the use of a telephone in an emergency.
So this happens when somebody will grab somebody’s phone. Somebody’s looking through the phone, they see some bad text messages or something, somebody wants to call the police, they hold onto the phone, that’s a crime.
We’ve also got electronic harassment. We’ve got harassment and aggravated harassment.
So I made another video about harassment, what constitutes that. If that’s going on against somebody who is in, there is a domestic relationship about that they’ll tack on the DV charge. We’ve also got stalking.
We’ve got basically recording photos and videos of somebody, so if you’re doing that in a manner that’s not obvious to them they can charge you with that.
We’ve got aggravated domestic violence, so this is when you are committing multiple domestic violence offenses, so basically on your third domestic violence charge it will go from a misdemeanor into a felony.
And then finally we’ve got child abuse and vulnerable adult abuse.
So if those types of abuses are happening and it’s involving family, it’s involving somebody who is related by blood or by law they can add domestic violence to that.
So it’s a big misnomer that domestic violence is only between a man and a women in a sexual relationship. It can happen across family lines, it can happen across blood lines, it can happen across law, so in-laws and step children and those types of things. It’s very, very big.
It’s a big statute, covers a lot of different language, covers a lot of different conduct and it’s important to know that these things are common and police really like to write domestic violence charges.
There’s a lot of grant money, there’s a lot that goes on, especially in today’s age, you know, in the Me Too movement and all these things domestic violence is a big deal.
So if you’ve been charged with domestic violence, if you want to speak with our office about it give us a call.
We offer free case evaluations. We’ll look through the facts of your case, see how we can find some holes through it, make sure that you have a good plan moving forward and we look forward to speaking with you.
Give us a call, we’ll get you scheduled as soon as possible. Thanks for watching.
“Domestic violence” in Arizona is not a specific crime. Instead it is a specific designation that is attached to an underlying offense that introduces other penalties and obligations.
The law offers very clear parameters to determine whether there is a domestic relationship between parties in order to determine whether “domestic violence” applies.
The following conditions are set forth in A.R.S. § 13-3601:
- 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:
a. The type of relationship.
b. The length of the relationship.
c. The frequency of the interaction between the victim and the defendant.
d. If the relationship has terminated, the length of time since the termination.
These parameters are very important to the defenses of domestic violence. If it can be shown that there is no domestic relationship, the charges will not be designated as “domestic violence” offenses.
The following are charges that could be designated as “domestic violence” charges if a domestic relationship is proven:
Negligent homicide, manslaughter, 2 nd and 1 st degree murder, endangerment, threatening/intimidating, assault, aggravated assault, custodial interference, unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, sexual assault, nude photos, trespass, criminal damage, interference with judicial proceedings, disorderly conduct, animal cruelty, preventing the use of a telephone in an emergency, electronic harassment, harassment, aggravated harassment, stalking, surreptitious photos/videos, aggravated domestic violence, child abuse, vulnerable adult abuse.
If any of the above offenses are being charged, and the relationship between the defendant and the victim is established according to A.R.S. § 13-3601, then it would be considered a “domestic violence” offense.
It is a big misnomer that domestic violence is only between two people in a sexual relationship; domestic violence can happen across family lines. The statute is very big; it covers a lot of different language and conduct.
Because the scope of the statute is so expansive, domestic violence charges tend to be quite common.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, give us a call. We offer free case evaluations; we’ll look through the facts of your case, and put together a good plan for you moving forward.
In this video, we’re talking about penalties for domestic violence convictions in Arizona. So as we spoke about in previous videos, domestic violence by itself is not an individual crime in Arizona. Instead, what the law does is it defines other crimes, things like disorderly conduct, things like assault, crime trespass and other different types of offenses. When they involve a domestic relationship, that’s when the domestic violence designator gets tacked onto that. So you can be convicted of disorderly conduct/domestic violence or assault/domestic violence. And so the most important thing to understand is that if you are charged with a crime you’re going to be sentenced according to the original underlying charge. So the domestic violence portion of the Arizona statutes does impose some additional penalties but you’re going to want to look to the original charge, so whether it’s a homicide case or a simple assault case or an aggravated assault, if there is a domestic violence designator you’re still going to want to look to the original offense and see what that is.
So it could be a misdemeanor type of offense, it could be a class one all the way down to a class three, or it could be a much more serious felony like an aggravated assault or a homicide case. So it’s important to remember that this penalty’s not going to talk about each one of those underlying offenses because there are many, many different types of other crimes that can be designated domestic violence. Here we’re going to talk about what does the actual domestic violence portion of this tack on, and so we’ll run through it. So I already covered this first part of it. You want to make sure you’re looking at the original statute. You can’t skip that, that’s a big part of the penalties that you may be facing, look to the original charge, watch some of the other videos that I’ve put out about those charges, and then we’ll follow through here.
So the other thing that you’re going to want to consider is that if you are convicted of a domestic violence offense, so an offense that has the DV designation on there, there’s going to be a lot of treatment that they’re going to want you to do. This is part of any court, of any jurisdiction, they’re going to be requiring you to go through a screening process and comply with followup treatment. So you’ll sit down, you’ll do an initial kind of consultation with somebody who is part of the domestic violence offender treatment program, they’re going to assess how much treatment they think that you need, and then you’re going to have to follow up on those classes. Now in a lot of cases it’s somewhere between 26 to 52 hours of classes, you have to pay for each one of those programs and so it can be very expensive.
It doesn’t dismiss the case. If you’re convicted of it you take the classes as part of the penalty. You don’t get any benefit of taking them other than presumably learning how not to commit domestic violence offenses again. But it’s a big time commitment, it’s a big money commitment and it’s a big penalty, so you want to make sure you’re understanding that if you’re getting convicted of a domestic violence offense you’re going to have to do a lot of classes, a lot of screening, followup treatment and all that stuff. The other thing that the statute says is you could be placed on probation. In a lot of cases you’re placed on unsupervised probation if they’re misdemeanor offenses, if they’re felony offenses you’re going to get on some sort of a supervised probation. If you have prior domestic violence convictions that complicates things. The judge can still put you on probation, but as part of that probation require you to serve some time in jail. Some time incarcerated, it’s in the statute, you can look it up.
There is also a potential for work release, you can get out of custody five days a week and then you have to spend the remainder of the time, overnights and on weekends. If you don’t have school or work then they’re not going to give you a reason to get out of custody. But if you can identify the fact that you’re working or in school or doing something where you need to be out they’ll give you work release, it’s up to the judge to do that or not. And finally, we want to talk about firearms. So this is a big issue.
There is some gray area on this. This is a conflict between federal law and state law, but under the federal government there was a gun safety, a gun rights act, that was in a 1968 Gun Control Act, and it had some specific prohibitions with firearms. There was an amendment, it’s called the Lautenberg Amendment. This is a specific amendment to the original law that says that if you’re convicted of a domestic violence offense and it involved violence or it involves some use of force, you can no longer have firearms. And so the way that that translates down to Arizona law, the way that we interpret that is that if there’s a domestic violence offense like an assault or anything where there’s some physical use of force and you’re convicted of that and it’s designated domestic violence, under federal law you’re not allowed to have a firearm. But what happens if it’s a type of situation where it really doesn’t involve the use of force or it’s a nonviolent offense, so say for example disorderly conduct where there’s just a verbal argument but there’s no force there, or a trespass where somebody asks you to leave and you didn’t leave and they called the police on you, there was an argument with a significant other, that’s not really force, so there’s good argument to be made that under those circumstances the Lautenberg Amendment doesn’t apply.
It is something that you’re going to want to look at with an attorney because it’s a little bit more complicated than that, there’s a lot of gray area on this thing, but you want to make sure, particularly if firearms is a big issue for you, like if you’re in security or if you’re in law enforcement, or if you require a firearm as part of your profession, you want to make sure that if you’re ever even thinking about pleading guilty to any type of domestic violence offense you’re absolutely talking with an attorney about it because under the Lautenberg rule, under the federal law, this is something outside of Arizona, you may be prohibited from having a firearm. So, as I said, just a quick recap, these are just some of the additional penalties that domestic violence designation tacks on.
You certainly want to look at the underlying charge, whether it’s an aggravated domestic violence, an aggravated assault, a felony type of situation or a misdemeanor situation, anything that has a domestic violence designation on it is very problematic, especially when you’re doing background checks, when you’re applying for jobs, employers and people who are reviewing those types of things do not want to see anything related to domestic violence, especially in today’s movement, the me too movement, there’s a lot of very political things going on right now and it’s kind of a sensitive topic, even more so than we’ve ever seen, in my opinion. So you want to be very clear that you know what you’re getting into, you want to make sure you’re doing things appropriately so it’s not going to jeopardize your future. If you are facing domestic violence charges, happy to sit down with you, give us a call, we’ll look at the facts of your case, we’ll make sure you understand how the proper defense works, what some of your options are to make sure you have a clear path forward.
Give us a call, look forward to meeting with you soon. Thanks for watching.
In most situations, domestic violence crimes are Class 1 Misdemeanors, the highest level misdemeanor crime in Arizona.
However, domestic violence cases that include severe injury, a weapon, or threats to children or an unborn child can raise in severity drastically and become various classes of felonies or what are considered to be “Dangerous Crimes Against Children” or DCAC. The penalties for these offenses are extremely serious.
More often, domestic violence misdemeanors involve a minor amount of jail time, fines and fees, counseling and domestic violence classes and a period of probation.
However, the maximum penalty for a class 1 misdemeanor domestic violence conviction can be up to 6 months in jail, fines and fees of $2,500 plus surcharges, 52 hours of counseling and domestic violence classes, a term of probation up to 5 years.
The vast majority of people we represent ultimately have their domestic violence charges dismissed at some point of the case, either through a domestic violence diversion program or by voluntary dismissal by the government prior to trial.
A common question we get in domestic violence cases is can my ex drop the charges against me? We got into a fight. We know that we were being too loud. We know that there may have been some touching back and forth. I have since been charged with assault. I’ve been charge with disorderly conduct or any number of other charges. But since I’ve been arrested, my ex and I have been talking and now we want to reconcile. She doesn’t want to press charges against me. She wants to drop all the charges because she realized that when she called the police, she did so out of anger or frustration but now she realizes she doesn’t really want this to happen either. So can she drop the charges? The answer, unfortunately, is no. The government just won’t allow that to happen. So no. Your ex cannot unilaterally drop the charges against you. That means your ex can’t go to the prosecutor, or go to the judge and say, “I’m not pressing charges. I want all of these charges dismissed.” The government’s just going to turn around and say, “Thanks for your input. We’ve decided there’s enough probable cause there to move forward with the case and we’re going to continue the prosecution.” Why do they do that? Well, they don’t want people to be recanting.
They don’t want to incentivize people to call the police to break up a situation, have them claim something happened and then have them come back and say something didn’t happen. So if A said that B did something, and they want to move forward, and at the time of the arrest press charges and claim all of these things happened, they don’t want B to now exert some undue influence on A to get A to drop these charges. They don’t want to allow that to happen. So if they take A out of the equation, they take the power of A to have any decision-making as to whether charges are filed or not, then B doesn’t have anything upon which B can act in order to cause that to happen. So that’s not going to happen. If you are in a relationship or you’re reconciling and you want to get back with somebody and you ask them I need you to drop the charges, they can’t do that unilaterally.
Now, there are ways that this can continue to evolve where the government, without this person’s participation, is not going to have a strong case. It happens in a lot, in domestic violence cases where the government’s only witness, the key witness, is this person here. So, if this person doesn’t want to cooperate with the government, if this person doesn’t want to testify against B, if this person’s not going to be around or available throughout the prosecution on their own accord, then B may not have anybody who can testify against him or her or whoever that person is. We can’t have– There’s not going to be any other evidence. There’s no other witness. There’s no other testimony.
Nobody’s going to come into court. And so even though can’t voluntarily go in and say, “I’m going to drop these charges” or ask the prosecutor to drop these charges, by A not participating in the remainder of the case, that just may cause the government to have no choice but to dismiss the case. It’s a little bit more complicated than that. There’s rules of admissibility. There’s some things that B may had made admissions to. There may be other statements that were made throughout the event, you know, whenever that happened. So you want to make sure that you’re not just kinda basing your entire defense on that happening, on A not being involved or A not showing up to trial or any of those things. But generally, A does not have the ability to just drop charges. A can talk to the prosector. A can talk to the person who’s assigned to prosecuting B and explain their side of the story and explain what happened and why they think that that charge should go forward against B.
But generally, a prosecutor’s just going to turn around and say, “Look, this happened. We have the police who felt it was justified to charge B and make the arrest. We’re going to continue moving forward with this case.” It’s public policy, by prosecutors, to move forward on that for a number of different reasons, some of which I covered in this video. So, the long and short answer is no. Your ex cannot drop the charges against you. So if you’re intending on reconciling with that person just to get that to happen, may not be the wisest decision. Leave that up for you to decide. If you have questions about domestic violence cases, and your relationship with your ex and whether or not they may be willing to help in your case or not help in your case and you want to strategize about how this all works, give our office a call.
We offer free case evaluations. We’re happy to sit down with you and speak with you. Thanks for watching.
A common question we get in domestic violence cases when somebody’s charged with a domestic violence crime is can my spouse, my ex, my child, my parent, my brother, whoever was the victim of the domestic violence charge, can they drop the case against me? They don’t want to prosecute me. They understand that this whole situation was blown totally out of proportion. The police came, I got arrested. But now that things have settled down, they want to drop the charges against me. Can they do that? The answer is really no. They don’t have any unilateral authority to do that. They don’t have any charging decisions. They don’t have any dismissal power. There’s no way that they can just go in and voluntarily drop the charges. That’s not how our system works. So let’s break it down. Let me explain how it does work so you have a better understanding if you’ve been charged, or your loved one has been charged and you want to drop the charges against them, here’s how it works. So let’s say that A and B are two people.
They’re in a romantic relationship and they get into an argument together. Somebody calls the police on somebody else. Police show up, B gets arrested. So the police are here and they decide to investigate the case, they arrest B. So B is now being charged with some sort of disorderly conduct or assault or trespass or something and they’re tacking on a domestic violence designation. So B is arrested by the police. The police then turn the charges over to the prosecutor. This is the prosecutor symbol. It’s the prosecutors of the city, of the county, of the superior courts, wherever this case is going to be filed. Charges are turned over to the prosecutor. Prosecutor reviews the case. Charges are then prosecuted in the court. So we’re going to call this the judge, this is the court.
So now all of this is happening. It’s going up into this pipeline here. Well now let’s say A wants to drop the charges. So A doesn’t want to be involved in this. A contributed just as much to the whole altercation as B did, and so A wants to say, all right, I’m going to go into court, and I’m going to tell the judge that I want these charges dropped. Well unfortunately it’s not going to do any good. The judge has no legal authority at this stage to take a look at the charges and just dismiss the case. So people will say, people like A, they’ll come to our office and they’ll say, hey I want to waive my rights to be considered a victim.
I want to talk to you guys. You’re defense lawyers. I want to help my husband or brother or whatever through the situation, how can I help? I was planning on just going and taking to the judge. Like I said, it’s not going to do any good. The judge doesn’t have the authority to just take the case and just dismiss it. They have to hear the case on the merits. The case is now being prosecuted by the government, by the prosecutor’s office. And so if A’s not involved the prosecutor doesn’t really have to have any leniency on them. The prosecutor can just say hey we believe there’s enough evidence based on the police report to move forward with the case. We believe there were enough admissions.
We believe there’s some other evidence that we can use. And so just the fact that you don’t want to drop, you don’t want to be involved, you want to drop the charges, it’s outside of A’s control now. It’s all in the prosecutor’s discretion. The prosecutor can decide whether to move forward or not. The reason they do this is because the prosecutor wants to kind of discourage this from happening. The prosecutor doesn’t want these situations to unfold and then two weeks later A to come back, get the charges dismissed and then the whole thing happens again. Now it’s back in the prosecutor’s desk and they have to deal with it a second time. So by and large most prosecutors throughout the state of Arizona, they’re going to prosecute these cases regardless of whether A wants to be involved or not.
So just because A wants to drop the charges doesn’t mean that the charges are going to get dropped. It’s not up to the prosecutor’s discretion to decide what they want to do with it. Now, if the case does go to trial or if there are a lot of plea negotiations. Say B hires an attorney. The attorney comes into play. That’s us, we’re the defense attorneys. We can communicate with the prosecutor and say, you have very weak evidence. A doesn’t want to be involved in this. A’s going to testify on our behalf. And that they contributed to the altercation. There was self defense arguments. There was mutual shouting back and forth in a disorderly conduct case. Everybody was drunk. Nobody remembers anything, and there’s a lot of stuff that happens. And in some situations A’s just not around anymore.
A moved states, the relationship fizzled. A doesn’t want to be in Arizona, doesn’t want to be involved in the prosecution at all. And so the prosecutor, their key witness who is this person, they’re the victim of the crime after all, and they’re not going to come into court and testify against B, and the prosecutor goes into court with no evidence, remember most situations, the police show up after the fact. They show up after the allegations of the alleged crime has already been committed, and so without A in court testifying against B, a lot of the times the prosecutors have very little evidence that they can actually introduce. So the prosecutor’s not going to look at that and say, well we’re going to voluntarily dismiss the case just because A doesn’t want to be involved in it.
They’ll take it all the way up to a trial, the day of trail if they don’t have a witness there and they don’t have any other evidence that they can go on they may have no choice but to drop the charges or dismiss the case but it’s not going to happen just because A asks nicely. There’s a policy, reason for that. They don’t want to encourage that type of thing to happen. So the long and short of it is can your ex drop the charges against you? No, there’s no legal authority for this person, A, to do that. They have no legal power. Once the charges have been filed, it’s outside of their control. But there are legal possibilities that we can use to preclude the prosecutor from being able, legally, or based on the rules of evidence and criminal procedure from actually introducing any evidence against B and they’ll have no choice but to drop the charges. It’s a lot more nuance that that, there’s a lot that goes into it.
It requires a very thorough review of police reports and conducting interviews and those things, because there are certain exceptions and there are possibilities where the prosecutor can perfectly move forward against B without A. A can be in China and they can still move forward with the case. So it’s important that you give us a call. If you’ve been charged with any type of domestic violence situation, whether you’re the victim, whether you’re the person being charged. If you’re the victim and you want to move forward with the case, obviously you do not want to call us, okay. Because we’re going to be representing the other individual, but if you are somebody who understands that this whole thing was a misunderstanding you want to help, there are certain forms and certain ethical requirements that we have to go through because you have a lot of rights as a victim. But we’ll make sure we explain those very thoroughly. Either A or B if you’re watching this video and you’re on either side of that coin, give us a call.
We’ll be able to sit down with you, review the facts of your case, make sure we have a good plan to navigate this. You can see it’s a little bit complicated, but it’s something that we do very regularly. We have a great team here. We offer free case evaluations. So give us a call. We’ll get you scheduled. We’ll sit down, we’ll make sure you have a good plan moving forward. Thanks for watching.
In most situations, being charged with domestic violence involves being arrested, locked in jail overnight, and being required to see a judge to discuss release conditions.
In most situations, the Judge will prevent you from returning to the scene where the incident occurred and from communicating at all with the victim.
This can be very problematic, as often you live at that residence, share property, or have children in common.
A domestic violence case can take months to resolve, it is not reasonable to ask the person charged to stay elsewhere, either with friends, family or at a hotel.
It is often not possible to have no contact at all with the other party, as their are issues that need to be resolved regarding schedules, children, or finances.
To open up contact, one of the first items our firm files is a motion to modify release conditions.
This is asking the court to change the original terms to allow the people involved to communicate or return to their residence.
Often times, the judge and the prosecutor will want to hear from the victim.
This can take time, and this is why it is so important to start this process quickly.
This is very common. Most domestic violence situations arise out of an argument that require no police involvement.
One party calls the police and then later regrets having done so.
They decide to contact the prosecutor, write a letter to the judge, or contact the victim’s department to ask them to dismiss the case.
Will they? Unfortunately, almost always the answer is No.
The person who is deemed the victim has no authority to drop or dismiss the charges. This power is with the prosecutor.
As a matter of policy, most prosecutors will refuse to dismiss domestic violence charges on the basis that the victim wants the case to be dismissed.
Their rationale is that dismissing the charge will encourage people charged with domestic violence to put pressure on the victim to drop the case, which is not good public policy.
Instead, they very regularly prosecutor cases that were nothing but simple arguments or misunderstandings.
What are some defenses to Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona?
In this video, we’re talking about some common defenses to domestic violence charges in Arizona. Our office, we do criminal law, and we see a lot of people come through with domestic violence cases. And so, over the course of many years, these are some of the most common and best defenses we’ve seen play out in court, and so let’s run through them. As a quick reminder, domestic violence by itself is not a criminal in Arizona. It’s actually a designator that they’ll tack onto other crimes. So if somebody’s charged with an assault, and that assault happened within the confines of a domestic relationship, it will be assault/domestic violence, or disorderly conduct/domestic violence. So, when you’re considering defenses, you always are going to want to start with the underlying offense. What are some defenses to assault or disorderly conduct or criminal trespass? Then there are other defenses that we see as applied to domestic situations as well.
So we’ll run through those, and it will include both of them, but this is more geared towards domestic violence charges. So first and foremost, most domestic cases that we see come through are misdemeanors, and they involve arguments, which is disorderly conduct, or they involve assault, where there’s some sort of touching. And so, one of the big defenses is that really the conduct that is being criminalized here is mutual, both parties were yelling at each other, both parties were pushing each other. Somebody ripped the phone outta their hands, that’s where the incidental contact was, or somebody was really defending themselves, Somebody was being attacked, and in that defense of themselves, by pushing somebody away or holding somebody back, there was some incidental contact. So this is really something that happens a lot, and you could make a good defense on that. You could say, look, I wasn’t the person who was actually yelling they were yelling. And the neighbors caught wind of the argument.
They showed up, because I’m the male, I got arrested. Happens all the time, and so you want to look at that first. Was there mutual conduct, or mutual combat, or was there self-defense? Was the actual incidental contact as a result of self-defense? That may be a very good defense. The other thing you want to look at is what’s called witness availability. So, who called the police? Who called 9-1-1? Was it a neighbor, was it somebody who was 300 ft away, or was it somebody who was standing right next to them and saw the actual incident? And so, you want to look at some of those things. You want to see how far away was the witness, what was their proximity to all of the events that are in question. Are they making any presumptions about what happened? So, some people just tend to see an argument, and they think something bad is happening, where really it may be kind of minor.
You know, people argue. That doesn’t necessarily equate to domestic violence. So are they presuming that these things happened? Do they have a history in their lives of domestic violence? Meaning they are kind of predisposed, they have these presumptions about domestic violence that aren’t really based in reality. Do they have opinions on it, what was their line of sight? But really, more importantly, what’s their availability? Are they going to come to court, are they going to take several months of their life to follow the case along? Are they going to be wanting to get in court and testify and take the stand and point the figure? I mean, most people really don’t want to do that. They call the police ’cause they’re scared, they don’t know what else to do. But after a couple weeks, couple months go by, they’ve moved on, they’re not really interested in prosecuting anybody, they don’t want to be involved in it, they’ve got their own lives to lead. And so, if they’re not available, that can make the government’s case a big difficult. Kinda the same story with the victim.
So a lot of situations will happen where one person will call the police on somebody else, they want the police to come and help them, meaning they don’t expect anybody to be arrested, they just are scared. They don’t know what to do, they act out of fear, they act out of impulse. Little do they know that when the police show up, they’re probably arresting somebody. And so once that person’s arrested, then the person who called 9-1-1 says, well, that was totally exaggerated, there was no need to do any of that. They recognize that they may have actually contributed to the situation. They probably shouldn’t have called 9-1-1, that the whole thing probably could’ve been resolved, and now it’s very complicated. And so, they want to start pulling back. They don’t want to be involved in the prosecution anymore, they want the whole thing to go away, they feel like it was all blown outta proportion, and in many cases, it is. And so, what if that victim, the person who was the alleged recipient of the assault, or who was being yelled at, or whatever the situation is, what if they don’t want to be involved anymore? Again, that usually makes the government’s case pretty hard.
Most of the time, in domestic violence cases, the key witness in the whole case is going to be the victim of the crime. The police show up generally after the fact, so they don’t witness anything firsthand. They don’t actually see an assault, they don’t actually hear the argument, they show up after it’s already happened, and the only person who can testify to what actually happened is either the person being arrested, who’s certainly not going to incriminate themselves, we would never allow that to happen, or the victim. And if there’s nobody else who can recreate the conduct, then the police can’t go into court, or the government has no witnesses to go into court to testify against the person who’s being charged. There’s rules that are called hearsay, there’s rules of evidence.
This can get a little bit complicated when it comes to admissions and what’s called corpus, the body of the crime, so you’re certainly going to want to speak with a lawyer and have your case properly evaluated prior to just believing that they’re going to dismiss your case because the victim won’t show up to trial. That’s kind of a common misnomer. But it is important, it is something to consider. If the victim is not around, and they’re not willing to prosecute, that makes the government’s case a lot more difficult. They probably don’t want ya to know that, but I’m telling you. So that’s a big part of the case, you want to make sure that you’re reviewing that part of it as well. You also want to assess the relationship.
So let’s talk about the actual relationship itself. Is this something that’s a healthy relationship? Was this a one-off incident? Is this something where there’s kind of a repeated history of these types of calls? And in some situations, we’ve had clients who have been charged with domestic violence, but when you start exposing the relationship, peeling back the layers, and you look at the interactions between the person who was charged and the alleged victim, the victim actually has a lot more culpability than anybody realizes. The person who got arrested got arrested that one night as the result of one incident, but in reality, they’re sort of the actual victim of this whole relationship. And so we’ve pulled text messages and phone calls, and had recorded conversations and all these different things that really show that the victim is kind of manipulating the government. They’re actually calling the police, they are instigating the whole situation, they are really the root cause of the problem.
Now, a lot of prosecutors don’t like that. They don’t want you to victim-shame, so they don’t want you to shift all the blame from the person who was arrested back over to the victim. So if you go into the prosecutor’s office and say, well, you know the victim did X, Y, and Z, and she’s a terrible person, he’s a bad guy, whatever. They’ll just tell you that doesn’t have anything to do with the case because the person who was arrested was arrested for this reason. But, if you can flesh all of this out and get that in front of a prosecutor, it really may help your case in terms of negotiating a plea deal or reducing the charges down from something serious to something a lot less serious, because they understand that these things have a lot more to them than what may have happened on one particular incident. So you certainly don’t want to be victim-shaming, but if you can help put the relationship in context, that may help. You want to look at calls, you want to look at the person’s character.
Do they have a criminal record? Do they have anything in their background, that they’ve got a history of domestic violence or a history of filing false reports? Or, you know, there’s a whole number of things that you can look into. So, these are some of the main defenses. As I said at the beginning of the video, there are also defenses to the underlying assault, or to the trespass, or to the disorderly conduct. And so you want to look at those defenses as well. But just for the purposes of domestic violence, these are some of the things that we see frequently, some of the things that have a lot of success in and throughout the courtroom. And so, if you have been charged with a domestic violence case, you want to speak about some of these defenses as they apply to you or many others, give us a call.
We offer free case evaluations, we’ll have you come in, we’ll sit down, we’ll review your case and make sure you have a good plan. Look forward to speaking with you soon. Thanks for watching.
In most domestic violence cases, the allegations are made by one person against another, usually by two people involved in a romantic relationship.
In our experience, what often happens is a couple gets into an argument, one of them or a neighbor calls the police, who respond and blow the entire situation out of proportion.
If there was noise, one person is charged with disorderly conduct / domestic violence.
If there was some form of touching, one person is charged with assault / domestic violence.
If there was something broken, like a glass, door or wall, one person is charged with criminal damage / domestic violence, and so on.
In the vast majority of cases, there are no witnesses to the incident and the only person who was involved is the “victim.”
This provides numerous defenses based on the Rules of Evidence in criminal cases regarding the admissibility of statements in Court.
The rule is called “hearsay” and is very complicated, but in general works like this:
In general, statements that are made outside of court cannot come into court to prove what they assert.
For example, let’s say we have a couple, Allie and Bob. Allie and Bob get into an argument and call the police officer, Cop.
When the police appear, they talk to Allie. Allie tells Cop that Bob yelled at her and they fought over something she found to be inappropriate at the time. Cop decides to arrest Bob for disorderly conduct.
As the case progresses, Allie and Bob realize that this whole situation is completely overblown. Bob has never been in trouble before and Allie realized the argument was minor and has sense been rectified. They both realize the police should never have gotten involved or been called.
Now, the government is unwilling to drop the charges against Bob, even though Allie is protesting and saying she doesn’t want to participate.
Can the government use Allie’s statements to Cop that Bob was disorderly that evening against Bob?
The answer is Yes, but only if Allie comes into court and testifies about what happened directly.
The government needs her direct testimony to establish there was a domestic relationship and that there was disorderly conduct.
What if Allie does not want to come to court or testify? Can the government use what she said to Cop against Bob without her?
No! This is hearsay. The Cop cannot go to court and tell the Judge that Allies said Bob did something.
Only Allie can do that. Otherwise, anything the Cop says that Allie said is called hearsay.
This violates due process and Bob’s ability to question the statements that Allie made out of Court. Bob can’t do that if they are coming from Cop’s mouth and not Allie’s mouth.
Without Allie’s direct testimony, the government has no case whatsoever and the case must be dismissed.
In today’s video, I want to share with you another great case result, another outcome from the R&R Law Group team. This is something that we see fairly frequently, it’s assault, it’s an assault charge. Somebody gets charged with physically injuring somebody or placing them in apprehension of eminent harm. But it’s not just a regular assault, it’s assault with a domestic violence designation, which means things get a little bit more tricky. Things get a little bit more severe in terms of consequences. This case happened out of the Peoria City Court, from the Peoria Police Department, you can see those there.
And the actual charge is listed over here. So, you can see there it says, assault with the intent or the reckless intent to injure somebody with a DV designation there at the end, DV stands for domestic violence. This individual was arrested by this person, this officer, and taken into custody. Again, it all happened out of Peoria. Well, what ended up happening is this person made a very good decision, they decided to hire a defense lawyer and they wanted to work with our team, good call. What we did is we worked the case up, took the case all the way up to the point of a trial, that can be very scary for a lot of people.
But when you have an experienced team of people, like ourselves, we can give you the advice, and tell you when we need to do it and when we don’t. Well, we did it and what ended up happening is the case got dismissed. Here is the order, dismissing the case. That’s the order, dismissing the case. And you can see here that the judge wrote, it is hereby ordered that the above case shall be dismissed without prejudice against the defendant, there signed by the judge, which is a great case outcome, and one that was very justly deserved.
We were very happy to help. We understand that these things happen. If it has happened to you or somebody you know or love, and you want some help with a case like this, give our office a call. We offer free case evaluations, we’ll sit down with you, we’ll talk about our strategies, as they pertain to you and make sure that we can certainly help you through the process.
So, we look forward to speaking with you soon, thanks for watching.
The example above illustrates a very important aspect of the hearsay rules in domestic violence cases, but in reality the rules are significantly more complicated.
In reality, there are over 20 different exceptions to the hearsay rules and some statements are just not considered hearsay at all (even though they are clearly hearsay).
A criminal defense attorney is needed to navigate these rules to ensure that the case is being properly prepared and a foundation is being laid throughout the pre-trial process.
Otherwise, the prosecutor will try to strong arm a person charged into taking an unnecessary plea agreement with threats of increasing penalties if they do not.
Proper preparation requires an extensive discovery phase, where our team gathers police reports, officer notes, digital recordings, dash cam or body cam footage, 911 calls, victim impact statements, witness statements, and all other materials related to the case.
After a thorough review, we can help determine what the best court of action will be moving forward to achieve your goals.
What is considered “Harassment” under ARS 13-2921 in Arizona?
In today’s video we’re talking about a crime in Arizona called harassment. Believe it or not there actually is a crime for harassing somebody. It has some key specific elements that we need to talk about, it’s not very commonly charged. A lot of the time the conduct will be charged as something else like disorderly conduct or it will escalate into an assault type of a situation. But there are times when something doesn’t actually reach the assault level or a trespass or any of those things, and it’s more similar to harassment. So let’s look at the statute, let’s look at the language and some of the definitions. It’s defined under ARS 13-2921. And it says that you can be convicted, you can be found guilty of harassment if you have intent or knowledge of doing one of the following things.
So the first line item is talking about communication. So if with intent or knowledge you communicate in a manner that harasses somebody else, that’s enough, that is enough to find you guilty of harassment. Well there’s more to it, but it’s talking about communication, that can include verbal communication, face to face conversations, can include text messages, emails, they talk about mechanical writings. You can send written letters to somebody. Any type of communication essentially is covered under this portion of the statute. And so if it’s communication that harasses somebody, or communicates in a manner that causes another person to feel harassed, that’s enough. The next way that somebody can be found guilty of harassment is if you are following somebody around in a public place for no legitimate purpose and they’ve asked you to stop and you keep doin’ it.
So this would be like at a park or in a public facility where you’re following somebody around, it’s causing them to feel harassed and they’ve asked you to stop and you don’t do it. They can charge you with harassment under that circumstance, similarly. If there’s any type of repeated acts that cause another person to feel harassed. So we’re going to define what harassment is or what being harassed is but this is the conduct. So if there’s repeated acts, you act or you cause somebody to act in a way that makes somebody feel harassed and it’s happening repeatedly they can charge you with that. Also if you surveil somebody over and over with no legitimate purpose, that can constitute harassment as well. So this would be taking pictures of somebody, following somebody around, eyeballing them. Doing video recordings, any type of surveillance that causes another person to feel harassed with no legitimate purpose is enough. Also if there are multiple reports that are being filed against somebody, so if you file reports or if you cause somebody else to file reports, things like police reports or reporting problems to a credit bureau or making any type of false report to any agency. If you do it on more than one occasion, they can charge you with harassment for that.
So if the person you’re filing charges against sees or has reason to believe that you are the person doing it, they can report this as harassment. Of course it’s up to the officers to decide whether or not to actually move forward with filing harassment charges or making an arrest but that is an element of the law. Also if you interfere with the delivery of a public utility. So if you are preventing somebody from getting their cable TV or if you’re blocking somebody from getting their satellite. If you are turning off water or causing some sort of interference with the delivery of a public utility, that can constitute harassment. So it doesn’t neccesarily have to be to the person his or herself. But if there’s some sort of interference with them getting public utilities, that can be harassment. There’s also another weird portion of the statute that talks a lot about filing liens against public officials or public agents or employees without their consent.
If it’s related to real property, not common, we don’t see that really ever. But that is in the statute so if you have a proclivity of filing liens you could be charged with harassment against that, under that statute as well but the real big question comes down to what constitutes harassment? So you can see here the statute’s pretty vague. What is communication that would constitute a communication that would harass somebody? What is that type of communication? Well the law sets out some specific requirements. So in order for harassment to be considered harassment, some sort of communication to be considered harassment or some act or some activity, it has to do a couple things. It needs to be conduct that’s directed at a specific person, so it needs to be a specific person. That’s what’s in the statute, meaning it can’t be just conduct that’s general in nature. It needs to be directed at somebody. If it’s not directed at somebody, if it’s directed at society in general, that might be a good defense to the harassment charge. The other thing is that it must cause a reasonable person to actually feel seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed. So what we’re talking about a reasonable person standard, it’s not subjective, meaning it’s more of an objective test.
So would a reasonable person, under these circumstances, under these conditions, would they actually feel seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed? If it would be unreasonable for a person to feel that based on the conduct, that element is not going to be met and it’s not going to be considered harassment. So you look at in general what would a reasonable person do. Then we also look at what this specific person would do so would a reasonable person feel harassed and did the person under the circumstances actually feel harassed? So we have here conduct, the conduct that is alleged to be harassment. It in fact caused that individual to feel seriously annoyed, alarmed, or harassed. So you can see there’s a reasonable person test and an in-fact test so if you take the reasonable person test and you can say, well this individual really shouldn’t have felt harassed, this was a mild type of situation.
And so a reasonable person would not likely have felt harassed but this person did, that’s going to fail the test. Or if you say a reasonable person would feel harassed, but this specific person didn’t at all, they just shrugged it off, this may have been very normal for them. That element of the test is not met. Because there was no in fact harassment. So that’s how you define harassment. Then you take that definition and you plug it into each one of these different line items here and that’s what constitutes harassment. This can also be a domestic violence offense. So this type of situation can arise between a family members, people residing in the same residences, people who are married or formerly married, people in romantic or sexual relationships. They can charge somebody with harassment and then tack on a domestic violence designation which can actually increase the penalties and the severity and the requirements. Things like counseling and followup treatment and all of those different things.
So if you’ve been charged with harassment, you want to speak to our team about your particular case and what some of the best defenses will be, give us a call. We offer free case evaluations. We’ll have you come into our office. We’ll sit down, we’ll talk about your case. Make sure you have a good plan moving forward. We look forward to speaking with you, thanks for watching.
Harassment in Arizona is a crime. It is not a common or frequent charge, but it is illegal under A.R.S. § 13-2921. It says that someone can be convicted of harassment if they had intent or knowledge of doing any of the following:
1. Communicating (verbal, electronic, or written) in a manner that harasses someone.
This means that any face-to-face conversations, text messages, emails, letters, or any other type of communication that is meant to harass someone else is illegal.
2. Following someone in a public place with no legitimate purpose after being asked to stop.
This would occur at a park or some public facility. If someone is being followed around, it causes them to feel harassed, they ask the perpetrator to stop, but they continue to follow them, they can be charged with harassment.
3. Committing repeated acts to harass someone.
Similarly, if there are any type of repeated acts that cause someone to feel harassed, they can press charges for it.
4. Surveilling someone with no legitimate purpose.
This would be taking pictures of someone, following them around, taking video recordings, or any other type of surveillance. If there is no legitimate purpose to the surveillance, then it would constitute harassment.
5. Making multiple or false reports against someone.
If someone repeatedly files police reports, reports to a credit bureau, or some other type of agency, they can be charged with harassment.
6. Interfering with the delivery of a public utility.
This would include things like preventing someone from getting cable or satellite television, turning off their water, or some other interference with a public utility, that would constitute harassment.
7. Filing a lien on property against a government employee or public officer.
This is the least common offense with regard to harassment, but it is written in the statute. Filing a lien against a government agent would fall under A.R.S. § 13-2921 as harassment.
This list of activities is in regard to the conduct that would be considered harassment, but it begs the question as to how harassment is defined. This is addressed in the statute as well.
In order for a something to be considered “harassment,” it needs to:
- Be conduct that is directed at a specific person or individual.
If someone’s behavior is directed at society as a whole, and not toward one person in particular, that would be a defense against a harassment charge.
- Cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed.
When discussing what a reasonable person would consider to be harassment, the statute means objectively, not subjectively.
- Be conduct that, in fact caused someone to be seriously alarmed, annoyed, or harassed.
This is also an important point. Regardless of what a person does, if no one was harassed as a result, then there should be no charge for harassment.
Because harassment is defined as such in the statute, there are defenses against this crime. If you have been charged with harassment, contact an attorney immediately. We offer free case evaluations, and will be able to put a plan together that best suits you and your case.
We can help! Our defense team practices exclusively in criminal defense and we do not take cases from any other field of law (family, business, personal injury).
We have helped hundreds of people charged with crimes like disorderly conduct successfully resolve their case, protect their record and fight for a winning outcome.
Hiring our office means it is very unlikely that you will have to attend court for the majority of the case. We may need you to be present one time at the end. Otherwise, our team handles all of the preliminary hearings on your behalf and we keep you apprised of all developments along the way.
Contact our office at (480) 400-1355 to schedule a complimentary case evaluation with our team.