Domestic violence is a serious crime with serious consequences for those convicted. In fact, a domestic violence conviction can completely change the course of your life. That’s why it is critical that you contact an experienced attorney if you have domestic violence accusations leveled against you. This is especially true in domestic violence cases where there is a domestic violence enhancer. A wrongful conviction of this type can severely hinder your future. In this blog, we outline the meaning of a domestic violence sentence enhancer, as well as many other related issues.
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we understand that being accused of domestic violence can produce a lot of fear and anxiety. After all, convicted domestic violence offenders often have fewer career opportunities, strained personal relationships, and many other consequences. Our Phoenix criminal defense lawyers are to help you fight for your legal rights. To schedule a consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.
What Is Domestic Violence?
According to ARS 13-3601, domestic violence is “any act that is a dangerous crime against children, or violent act against a current spouse, former spouse, blood relative, member of the household, or a person with whom the defendant had a sexual, romantic, or intimate relationship.” An Arizona court will determine whether the incident in question was one of domestic violence or a regular assault charge. Arizona courts use the following factors to determine whether domestic violence occurred.
- Length of the relationship
- Type of relationship
- How frequently the defendant and the victim interacted
- Whether or not the relationship has ended, as well as how much time has passed since it ended
Domestic Violence in Arizona
Understanding the definition of domestic violence isn’t enough to fully understand what does and does not constitute this crime in Arizona. In general, any form of physical violence can count as a form of domestic violence treatment. Below, we list certain actions that could count as domestic violence under Arizona law.
- Assault against a relative, household member, or someone you are in an intimate relationship with
- Throwing objects at someone
- Threatening, harassing, or intimidating someone
- Putting someone in danger of physical injury
- Trespassing or disobeying a protection order
- Damaging someone’s property
- A crime involving coercion, intimidation, or some other crime
Even disorderly conduct can qualify as domestic violence under the right (or wrong) circumstances. If an alleged victim accuses you of domestic violence, we strongly recommend hiring an attorney as soon as possible.
What Is a Domestic Violence Enhancer in Arizona?
In some states, domestic violence is not a separate crime. Instead, it is what is known as a sentence enhancer. A sentence enhancer can be added to the original, underlying crime to increase the penalties and sentencing. Domestic violence enhancement is, therefore, a label added to some other crime that increases the potential punishment and sentencing. Under Colorado law specifically, domestic violence is not its own crime. Instead, it is a sentence enhancer.
In Arizona, however, it is both its own crime and a sentence enhancer. Someone can be charged with domestic violence, or they could be charged with some other crime with a domestic violence sentence enhancer added to it.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona
Domestic violence convictions are, in most cases, a class 1 misdemeanor. However, in more serious cases involving injuries, weapons, or threats to children, they can be classified as felonies. Felonies carry serious consequences, including prison time and mandatory probation lasting years.
In addition to the legal consequences, defendants could face social and career consequences. For example, if the incident involved alleged sexual violence, a conviction could require the defendant to register as a sex offender. The best way to avoid any serious social consequences is to contact an Arizona domestic violence defense attorney.
Will I Lose My Gun Rights?
Yes. Even a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence can result in your loss of gun rights. According to federal law, anyone who has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence may not buy, sell, possess, or own a firearm of any kind. Read our blog about Arizona gun laws to learn more.
Common Defense Strategies for Domestic Violence Charges
Fortunately, many cases of domestic violence are unfounded, and many people are wrongfully accused on a regular basis. Below, we outline some of the most common defense strategies for allegations of domestic violence.
- The alleged victim lied: Use as much evidence as possible to your advantage, and work to disprove the victim’s story. If you and your attorney can cast doubt on their story, this could be all you need for a positive outcome.
- Self-defense: This is a very effective strategy if you can prove it. Every person has the right to defend themselves against others, even if the other person is their spouse. Use relevant evidence to show that your partner, spouse, or family member started the conflict in the first place.
- Innocence: Building a formidable defense to prove your innocence is always a viable strategy. Even if you cannot outright prove that the victim is lying, you can prove that there was no way you could have committed the alleged crime.
- Accidents happen: You can even argue that the entire situation arose from a simple accident. Let’s say that you and your spouse just finished a heated argument. If you accidentally shove them by walking past too quickly, they might have used this as an opportunity to accuse you of domestic violence.
Can Domestic Violence Convictions Be Sealed or Expunged?
Arizona law does not allow for expungements, but you can apply to have your conviction set aside. After completing your sentence, you can apply for a set aside with a judge. Arizona set-asides do not completely erase convictions from your criminal record, but those public records will show that you had the conviction set aside. To qualify for a set aside, you must meet the following criteria.
- Complete your sentence. This includes jail or prison time, probation, community service, and paying fines, fees, or restitution.
- Your conviction is not disqualified under ARS 13-905. Convictions involving certain traffic violations, deadly weapons, serious physical injury, victims under the age of 15, sexually motivated crimes, and those that require sex offender registration are not eligible to be set aside.
- Other factors that the judge will consider. Examples of these factors include the circumstances behind the conviction, your compliance with your sentence, prior or subsequent convictions, input from the victims, how much time has passed, and other relevant factors.
Contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we know how much one conviction can impact a person’s life. That’s why we dedicate ourselves to fighting for the legal rights of those facing serious criminal allegations. If you’re facing domestic violence charges in Arizona, don’t take any chances. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in Phoenix and fight for your rights and your freedom. To schedule a consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.