Domestic Violence Lawyers in Mesa Fighting Compassionately for Clients
In Arizona, there are several offenses that, under the right circumstances, can receive a domestic violence designation. When clients approach us saying they have been charged with domestic violence, the truth is they may be facing one or multiple criminal offenses that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence, depending on who the alleged victim is. Our Mesa domestic violence law firm answers questions about domestic violence crime charges in Arizona on a daily basis — here are a few important things to know if you find yourself in a similar situation.
What Is Considered a Domestic Violence Crime in Arizona?
It is important to understand that domestic violence is not a specific crime in Arizona, but a designation linked to an underlying offense, resulting in other penalties and obligations. For example, you can be charged with assault against someone else, but in order to be charged with assault/domestic violence, the alleged victim must have some form of domestic relationship with the attacker.
State law has specific requirements to establish a domestic relationship between a victim and an attacker. If those requirements are met, many crimes can fall under the domestic violence designation — from trespass to 1st-degree murder and several other violent crimes. The statute does not limit the definition of domestic violence as something that happens between two partners in a sexual relationship, but it also encompasses violence that may take place across family lines.
Is Domestic Violence a Felony in Arizona?
Because the term domestic violence covers a variety of violent offenses, a domestic violence charge can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the underlying offenses. Many domestic violence-related crimes in Arizona can be considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor, the most serious category of misdemeanors. Offenses such as disorderly conduct or criminal damage, for example, may likely be charged as a misdemeanor.
On the other hand, a person can be charged with a felony in more serious cases involving the use of a deadly weapon or severe injuries to the victim. A domestic violence offense can also turn into a felony if the well-being of a child or unborn child is threatened, a crime referred to as DCAC or Dangerous Crimes Against Children. A felony charge, as one may expect, is significantly more serious and often results in harsher penalties.
Can the Police Make an Arrest Even if the Victim Doesn’t Want to Press Charges?
It is common for a situation such as a loud argument between a couple to escalate to one of them being taken to jail after a neighbor called the police. The truth is that in domestic violence situations, a police officer called to a residence can make the determination to take a suspect into custody without a warrant, as long as the officer has enough reasons to believe that the suspect is a threat to the victim.
In situations where the victim decides not to continue pressing charges after they called the police and the case is already ongoing, the only party with the authority to dismiss charges is not the victim, but the prosecution. In most cases, even if the victim is having second thoughts, the prosecution will not drop the charges, as they understand it would encourage domestic violence abusers to pressure victims into giving up and dropping charges.
How Can a Domestic Violence Attorney Help Me?
Many domestic violence cases are emotionally charged situations that could have been resolved without the need for law enforcement to intervene. Even in cases that did involve some type of violent offense, things can easily be blown out of proportion and charges can be escalated. Working with a Mesa criminal defense lawyer who is well-versed in defending clients against domestic violence accusations can make the difference in your case.
An attorney will come up with a defense strategy to try and get your case dismissed or to negotiate lesser penalties. They will examine all the evidence the prosecution gathered against you, such as police reports, body cam footage, and officer notes, and will also investigate whether the officer had enough probable cause to take you into custody, or if the arrest was illegal. Attacking the legality of the arrest and the evidence gathered is a common defense strategy for many cases.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, it is highly recommended that you get the help of a Mesa domestic violence attorney. The prosecution will often pressure defendants into accepting an unnecessary plea deal, which at the time may seem like a feasible option, but doing so will result in lifelong consequences because it generates a criminal record and may affect your family relationships and custody of children. You will then have a criminal offense that will show up in a background check and limit your ability to find an employer and/or a landlord, for example. There is no reason to face your charges on your own, especially when so much is at stake.
Our office has assisted countless clients charged with domestic violence offenses and we work hard to protect your record and get your case dismissed whenever possible. When charges cannot be completely dropped, we might be able to negotiate a more favorable outcome and reduce the severity of penalties, convincing the court to allow you to take part in alternative sentencing. Every case is different and there are no guaranteed outcomes, so you must reach out to our Mesa office at (480) 378-9000 and request a case analysis to see how we can help.