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It should come as no surprise that making it through a domestic battery case can be one of the most stressful and emotional ordeals of your life. Not only must you navigate a criminal case, but you also face possible alienation from your family, removal from your home, and much more. Sometimes, these cases even lead to divorce or legal separation. Working with an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney is a must.
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we understand that facing domestic violence charges in Arizona is difficult. However, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney and having patience are two musts for these cases. When one is falsely accused of domestic violence, they are in need of an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney. To get in touch with an experienced Phoenix attorney, call our office at 602-910-4040 today.
Domestic Battery Meaning
This is battery against someone who you have a close or intimate relationship with. Specific examples include battery against a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé, a close blood relative, or a relative through marriage.
What Is Domestic Battery?
Battery itself is a felony in Arizona. It requires the accused person to have caused real harm to the victim. More specifically, it also involves willful and unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive. Additionally, the action is performed upon one of the aforementioned people.
Examples of domestic battery in Arizona include:
- Someone pushes their partner during a fight.
- A frustrated spouse rips up their spouse’s shirt.
- One party slaps their partner, and scratches their face.
In some cases, we refer to these actions as “spousal battery.” Technically, physical harm is not necessary. All that it takes is for the defendant to use force or violence against them.
Domestic Battery vs Domestic Violence
Now that we understand the definition of a domestic battery offense, how does it differ from domestic violence cases? Are these terms interchangeable or do they have notable differences? In the state of Arizona, domestic violence is the broad category that involves the willful and intentional use of force against someone you have a domestic relationship with.
Domestic battery is a domestic violence-related crime. In fact, it is one of the most common sources of domestic violence charges. Battery itself is the use of force or violence against another person. Therefore, domestic battery is the use of force or violence against someone you have a domestic relationship with, such as a spouse or family member.
Many people use the terms domestic violence, domestic battery, and battery domestic violence interchangeably. However, it’s important to understand that not all domestic violence cases are also domestic battery cases. Other terms that people frequently confuse with domestic violence include aggravated domestic battery, domestic assault, domestic abuse, aggravated battery, and assault with a deadly weapon.
What Is a Domestic Battery Charge in Arizona?
It is important to understand the severity of a domestic battery charge. When charges are initially brought against an individual, they must be accompanied by proof that there was some form of bodily harm or pain inflicted on the victim. Failure to provide this evidence will not allow any further progression in terms of legal proceedings.
The second element of domestic violence requires proof that the victim has a relationship with the defendant. The term “domestic” is either very specific or very broad, depending on what the state defines it as. Spouses, children and elderly parents who live under the same roof (though some states broaden it to include romantic relationships) all fall under the term of “domestic.” It also includes someone that the defendant dated or had a relationship with in the past. How recently passed depends on each state’s criminal laws.
Additionally, a domestic violence enhancer has the potential to increase the penalties for other types of crimes. Read our related blog to learn how sentence enhancers can affect your case.
Can Domestic Battery Charges Be Reduced?
This heavily depends on the facts surrounding the case when you are charged with domestic battery. In order to avoid a domestic battery conviction after being charged, we always recommend working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. We have the knowledge and the training necessary to fight for a reduction of the criminal charge you are facing.
Criminal charges of any kind can greatly affect one’s personal, professional, and societal reputation. They can even affect one’s relationship with their family or household. For these reasons, those accused of such serious crimes should always seek legal help. Our attorneys will gather evidence and fight for your rights and your freedoms.
With the right strategy, it is possible to have your charges reduced or dropped entirely. To better understand the common defenses that are available to you, contact Ybarra Maldonado Law Group as soon as possible.
Is Domestic Battery a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
In general, a first-offense domestic battery charge is a misdemeanor crime in Arizona. However, if someone is found guilty of domestic battery three times within a seven year period, they could be convicted of a felony. A felony charge will almost always involve a prison sentence.
How to Get Domestic Battery Charges Dropped
Several reasons exist for dropping domestic battery charges. At the Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we see many different types of scenarios in which prosecutors decide not to proceed with their case.
A few scenarios that could lead to domestic battery charges being dropped include the following.
Appeals courts evaluate the evidence to see if it would have been enough for a jury to find someone guilty. This should not be taken lightly, because all convictions could potentially end up on an appeals court’s desk one day. They review cases and decide whether or not there was sufficient justification of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
When someone is accused of committing a crime, the prosecutor will look over any statements made by that person and their victim. Sometimes there are discrepancies between a verbal statement from the accuser followed by one in writing which an experienced lawyer can use to question if what they said before was true or not.
The lack of visible injuries does not automatically mean that a domestic battery did not happen. All the prosecutor needs to charge you is evidence of an offensive touching, which can include pushing or shoving someone, spitting in their face, or intentionally grabbing them in a rude way.
This is not automatically fatal to the prosecution. However, if little or no evidence exists, there are conflicting statements, and the defendant has no history of domestic violence, a prosecutor is less likely to proceed.
Defense attorneys have the right to submit a letter after their client has been arrested or charged with domestic battery. The letter can be used as an explanation stating that there is not substantial evidence for prosecution and lists why they believe reasonable doubt exists in this case.
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Battery in Arizona?
Penalties for many crimes vary depending on the state in which the crime was allegedly committed. In many cases, the severity of the penalties depends heavily on the severity of the alleged offense. For example, if someone is charged with domestic battery with a deadly weapon, or if bodily injury was involved, the penalties will be more severe than for other charges. For cases involving firearms, we recommend speaking with a Phoenix gun crime lawyer.
For less severe charges, a defendant may face the following penalties in Arizona.
- Time in the county jail
- Restraining order
- Community service hours
- Domestic violence counseling
For charges that are severe, such as those in which the physical contact resulted in bodily harm, a defendant may face the following penalties in Arizona.
- Child custody and visitation implications
- Prison time
- Expensive fines
- Divorce proceeding implications
- Loss of gun rights
- Professional implications
What Does Dismissed Without Prejudice for a Domestic Battery Mean?
A dismissal with prejudice means that the charges have been dismissed for good, but a dismissal without prejudice only temporarily dismisses claims. This temporary dismissing of cases can be resumed as long as it is re-filed or altered to another court’s jurisdiction.
Dismissals without prejudice occur for a number of reasons. Prosecutors might dismiss a case in order to work out the issues or weaknesses in their own case. They also might decide to file a new case that is either more or less serious than the first. Judges dismiss cases as well to allow for either side to work out the issues with their cases before trying them again. Additionally, cases are dismissed either voluntarily or involuntarily.
These dismissals happen when the party who brought the case decides to dismiss it. It usually serves to benefit the prosecutor. Sometimes, prosecutors decide that there is no reason to bring the case to court. Additionally, they may want more time to prepare their case, meaning they are not ready by the date the judge set for the case.
Judges dismiss these cases. If they dismiss the case even though the prosecutor wishes to continue, there is probably good reason not to bring it to court. Sometimes, they find reasons to support permanently closing the case.
What Are Legal Defenses to Domestic Battery Charges in Arizona?
As with most criminal charges, domestic battery has certain defense strategies that are particularly strong. Our defense attorneys use their extensive experience to explore all possible options for our clients. Successful defenses may include:
The bottom line is that sometimes, people lie. Your lawyer will work to prove that the victim leveraged a false accusation against you, possibly with an ulterior motive. Additionally, if any harm did occur to the accuser, we work to prove the identity of the actual abuser.
In other cases, people don’t mean to cause harm to others. We will work to prove that you did not willfully cause harm to another person.
Additionally, when things get heated, some people feel the need to protect themselves or their children. If we can prove that you were only trying to protect yourself or someone else, this is a strong case.
Do You Need a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer for Domestic Battery Charges?
Legally, getting domestic charges dropped is a difficult process in Arizona. One of the only ways to get false allegations taken care of on your behalf is if the victim signs an affidavit at either criminal or civil proceedings. Sometimes, however, district attorneys will continue chasing after you even when they have no proof that it was your fault.
If you face domestic violence charges or other criminal charges, the attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group are here for you. To schedule a consultation with a qualified attorney, please call our Phoenix office at 602-910-4040. We also handle felony assault in Arizona.