Know Your Rights When it comes to Domestic Violence Charges
If you have been charged with a Domestic Violence (DV) offense in the greater Phoenix area, you may be confused about the nature of the charges against you, as well as the consequences if you are convicted. The following information will help to answer many of the questions you might have, particularly with respect to misdemeanor domestic violence charges, which include three types of assault, disorderly conduct, and criminal damage. We do not discuss on this page felony domestic violence charges or domestic violence charges that result from the violation of orders of protection.
- What makes an offense a “Domestic Violence” offense?
A domestic violence offense is defined in A.R.S. 13-3601 as one of many enumerated crimes that also involve a victim and a defendant who share a specific type of relationship. Clients often assume that there must be a romantic relationship to establish a domestic violence offense; however, this is untrue. The simplest way to understand the designation is that the individuals may have shared a romantic relationship, which is the most common understanding; they may be related; have a child in common, they may have been or are presently roommates, among other similar relationships
- Does a Domestic Violence offense necessarily entail “violence?”
A domestic violence offense does not need to involve violence in the ordinary sense of the word. While the offense must include a “victim”, there is not necessarily a requirement of assault, battery, or injury to comprise a DV offense. Frequently a client will wonder why they have been charged with a DV offense when they were only arguing. This is because the DV allegation, as stated above, merely defines the relationship between the parties, not the crime itself. So the obvious next question?
- What types of crimes are usually seen when charged as domestic violence?
The most common types of DV cases are assaults and disorderly conduct. We also see criminal damage. Any one of these cases can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on whether or not there was an injury, a weapon, etc.
- What is domestic violence assault?
There are three types of misdemeanor assault listed in A.R.S. 13-1203. In Arizona, assault can be as simple as intentionally placing someone in fear of physical injury, and as serious as shooting someone.
- What is domestic violence disorderly conduct?
Disorderly conduct is defined as, among other things, disturbing the peace and quiet of another by engaging in seriously disruptive behavior. This is the circumstance where two lovers are quarreling and the “victim” calls the police, and the defendant, still yelling when the police arrive, is charged with disorderly conduct, a domestic violence offense.
- What is domestic violence criminal damage?
Criminal damage is often charged as a misdemeanor. It consists of damaging the property of another, and is codified under A.R.S. 13-1602. Depending upon the value of the property damaged, the crime can be a low level misdemeanor or a very serious felony. In any case, if the property was owned or possessed by someone with whom the defendant shares the domestic violence relationship, the offense can and likely will be charged as domestic violence.
An example of this sort of criminal damage is when the girlfriend is upset with the boyfriend and she throws his phone at the ground breaking it. Strange as it may seem, this act can be charged as criminal damage (misdemeanor) domestic violence.
- What are the standard criminal penalties for these offenses?
The baseline for penalties for all crimes in Arizona is prescribed by the sentencing guidelines. A class 1 misdemeanor carries a potential maximum penalty of $2500 in fines and 6 months jail. For a class 2, it’s a smaller fine and 4 months in jail. And for a class 3 misdemeanor, it is yet again a smaller fine and up to 30 days in jail.
- What additional penalties are prescribed for domestic violence offenders?
Additional penalties for domestic violence offenders include collateral consequences and direct consequences. Direct consequences include additional offender fees, as well as domestic violence offender treatment, or counseling. Collateral consequences include not being allowed to possess a firearm or having problems getting and maintaining work.
- What is Domestic Violence Diversion?
Domestic violence cases are often subject to diversion, if the prosecuting agency offers such a program. In Phoenix Municipal Court, the City Prosecutor may, in certain cases, allow a domestic violence offender to take classes that may require attendance for up to one year. If the offender completes the program, then the charges are ultimately dismissed. If you are facing a relatively minor assault or disorderly conduct charge, and it has been categorized as domestic violence, then provided you have no priors, you likely are eligible for diversion.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, contact the Law Offices of David A. Black at (480) 280-8028 for a free consultation. We look forward to helping you.