A domestic violence arrest is serious for both the accused and the victim. When an arrest occurs in Arizona or any state in the United States, a person is technically still innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, there are a lot of false accusations, which make these cases complex and result in a lot of scrutiny.
The State has jurisdiction over domestic violence cases, even if the accuser decides to rescind their allegation.
“Domestic violence-related calls in Phoenix have doubled since the start of the pandemic, according to the Phoenix Police Department. Also, domestic violence-related deaths in Arizona have increased 140% compared to last year. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the lives of survivors, their children, and pets,” reports KTAR News.
After an arrest, it’s important to know what happens as both the accused and the accuser.
Arizona’s Domestic Violence Process
Domestic violence is a broad term, and it’s attached to other alleged crimes. It’s important for defendants to know the law and the rights available to them. For example, the following would fall under domestic violence charges:
- Criminal damage
- Disorderly conduct
- Judicial proceeding interference
- Threats and intimidation
If a defendant were to stop a victim from using their phone in an emergency, this may also be attached to domestic violence. Multiple charges may be filed during a domestic violence case, including but not limited to the above and the following: animal cruelty, harassment, kidnapping, sexual assault, rape, stalking, endangerment and murder.
Domestic violence itself isn’t a crime and must involve another crime, often assault. The addition of the domestic violence charge can amplify the penalties against the defendant.
As a defendant, it’s important to know that an arrest doesn’t mean that you’re guilty. The State will decide if charges will be filed, and the arrest allows the victim to get to safety if there is domestic violence occurring.
Defendants are up against the following court process:
- Prosecutors will determine whether to file charges
- Defendants can enter a plea after charges are filed
- You’ll contact a lawyer to help you fight the charges
Arizona has a one-year statute of limitations for a misdemeanor charge and seven years if the charge involves a felony. If a minor infraction occurs, the state has only six months to file charges.
Your lawyer will work to build a solid defense strategy that gets charges lowered. There are a lot of variables in each case, but common defenses include self-defense, false accusation, police misconduct, and insufficient evidence.
Charges may be dismissed, or a lawyer may be able to have your consequences reduced.
If the court doesn’t rule in the defendant’s favor, they face the following charges:
- Class 1-3 misdemeanors
- Class 1-6 felony
- Civil violations
Typically, a crime will result in a Class 1 Misdemeanor and will rise if the victim was injured, children were involved, or a weapon was used during the incident.
Victims often have a lot of questions to ask before and after an arrest. It’s important to know that Arizona law has protections in place to help you break a lease and leave a living situation where violence is occurring.
Domestic Violence Arrest FAQs
Can The Victim Drop the Charges?
No. A domestic violence arrest is a serious charge where a person’s life may be in danger. Once the arrest is made, the State of Arizona will bring charges against the accused. There’s a chance that the case is dismissed or proceeds, and therefore, it’s important for the accused to seek out a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence to help avoid the case going to court.
Are All Cases Charged?
An arrest doesn’t mean that the State will continue to pursue charges. Cases that are not charged will result in a letter being sent to the alleged victim stating that the State will not be pressing charges. Anyone who believes the State’s decision is invalid can call and speak to the prosecutor for a better understanding of why charges were not pursued.
Do I Have to Testify If I Am The Victim?
Yes. If there’s a trial, you’ll be required to appear at the trial and testify in court. You have a right to have a Victim Advocate accompany you to the trial. Victims can also attend the defendant’s court appearances. If a subpoena is sent to you, it’s important to adhere to the request and appear in court.
Will I Receive a Notification if the Defendant is Released?
Yes, but you need to contact the jail and request the Victim Notification Line. The line will alert you to the current bond amount and the status of the defendant.
Defendants that are not guilty and believe that they’re being falsely accused of a crime that they didn’t commit should consult with a lawyer immediately. Disagreements and arguments that escalate to verbal confrontations do not mean that domestic violence has occurred.