If you are under the impression that a domestic violence charge in Arizona is limited to violence against spouses, children or those in romantic relationships, your definition of the term is too limited. A case in point occurred last week.
A Tucson couple allegedly forced three “vulnerable adults” who resided with them to remain outdoors no matter what the weather, and prohibited those adults from using the home’s kitchen and bathrooms. They were permitted, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, to go inside only to sleep. Law enforcement personnel also claim that another adult, this one a blind relative of the couple, was physically abused by them. The couple is charged with felony domestic violence.
Domestic violence is defined under A.R.S. 13-3601. It includes a host of offenses committed against persons with a particular relationship with the alleged abuser. Among those offenses is abuse of a vulnerable adult, which is defined as follows:
“Under circumstances likely to produce death or serious physical injury, any person who causes a child or vulnerable adult to suffer physical injury or, having the care or custody of a child or vulnerable adult, who causes or permits the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult to be injured or who causes or permits a child or vulnerable adult to be placed in a situation where the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult is endangered is guilty of an offense . . ..”
“Vulnerable adult”, in turn, means
“an individual who is eighteen years of age or older and who is unable to protect himself from abuse, neglect or exploitation by others because of a mental or physical impairment.” A.R.S. 13-3623.
Abuse of a vulnerable adult is a felony, the degree of which is dependent upon whether the acts were performed intentionally and knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence.
Just another example of how a “common sense” reading of legal terms does not provide the full picture of the meaning of a particular law.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1400
Phoenix, AZ 85004