Arizona’s Tough Aggravated Domestic Violence Law
by Aaron Black • May 02, 2019
When emotions and tempers rage in domestic relationships rational thought is the first casualty. Bad decisions are made. Of all violent crimes, 15 percent involve intimate partners.
Arizona lawmakers, to protect victims of repeated domestic violence, armed the state’s aggravated domestic violence law with harsh consequences and restrictions. Plus, police and prosecutors are aggressive in enforcing this class five felony.
The specific law, Arizona Revised Statute §13-3601.02, raises a misdemeanor domestic violence charge to the more serious aggravated level under certain circumstances.
This law applies to repeat defendants who are convicted of a second, third, or additional domestic violence offenses in Arizona or some other state and in tribal courts occurring within 84 months (seven years).
Besides a term of incarceration, a convicted defendant under this law is not eligible for probation, a pardon, shortening or suspension of the original sentence, or release for any other reason until the person has served at least four months in jail for a second offense and at least eight months for a third and subsequent offenses.
Types of Domestic Relationships DefinedThe law specifies several types of relationships that fall under this statute.
- Domestic relationships are formed by marriage or a former marriage, other people residing or who previously did reside in the same household, the defendant and the victim have a child in common or the victim or defendant is pregnant by the other person.
- Extending the definition includes those who are related by blood or a formal court order. These include grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law or sister-in-law.
- Further, the victim is a child who lives or previously lived under the same roof as the defendant and is blood-related to the defendant’s former spouse or to someone who lives or had lived in the same household as the defendant.
- The relationship of the defendant and the victim is romantic or sexual either at the time or prior to the violence as determined by the type and length of the relationship, how frequently the interaction was between them, and if the relationship had terminated, and if so, how much time had passed since it ended.
Associated Crimes of Domestic ViolenceCrimes related in aggravated domestic violence cases under Arizona law §13.3601 encompass a long list of crimes that can lead to additional charges.
Crimes that can lead to additional charges
|Negligent homicide||Criminal damage|
|Manslaughter||Interfering with judicial proceedings|
|Second degree murder||Disorderly conduct|
|First degree murder||Cruelty to animals|
|Endangerment||Use of a telephone to intimidate or threaten|
|Threatening or intimidating||Harassment|
|Custodial interference||Surreptitious photographing or filming|
|Unlawful imprisonment||Child abuse|
What should you do when Police Arrive?Police who are called to answer an aggravated domestic violence call don’t need an arrest warrant to take the suspect into custody as long as the officer has evidence of probable cause that the suspect did assault the other person.
The investigating officer will try to determine what happened and start asking questions. It is best to say nothing. Anything you say to the officer becomes evidence and the prosecution will use that evidence against you.
Tell the officer in a respectful manner that you are invoking your Constitutional right to prevent incriminating yourself. That should stop the questioning.
Common Defenses to Aggravated Domestic ViolenceArizona law allows for certain defenses depending on the circumstances of the particular event.
The defenses for aggravated domestic violence include the following.
- At the outset, the officer decides to make an arrest and fails to advise you of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and that you have the right to have a defense attorney at the questioning.
- Because the people involved in aggravated domestic violence cases are emotionally involved and the allegations can become blurred. In some cases the victim may falsely accuse you.
- The defendant may argue that using physical aggression was lawful because he or she was acting in self-defense and that the other person was the initial aggressor.
- The defense may argue that the prosecutor failed to prove the state’s case beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Another defense is that the two parties didn’t share a domestic relationship as defined in Arizona law.
Constructing your DefenseMany factors are at play in designing a defense. Police officers are human and can make mistakes conducting the investigation. They are focused on finding evidence to arrest you and may ignore evidence that is favorable to your case.
A criminal defense attorney conducts an independent investigation of the police report and what the victim told investigators searching for errors, omissions, falsehoods, and contradictions. The defense will also question the victim and witnesses under oath during the discovery phase of the case.
If you’re charged with one of the associated crimes, other defenses are available.
Plea BargainingIf the state has a solid case against you, prosecutors often will offer to reduce the charge to a less serious offense which also reduces the penalty and saves the state the expense of a trial.
The decision to take the plea is solely up to the defendant, and the defense attorney may be able to negotiate a better deal for you.
Choosing a Defense AttorneyCriminal law and its procedures are complex. If you’re charged with aggravated domestic violence, you’ll need a criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience in these cases.
A felony conviction is life-changing. It means incarceration, fines, loss of your Second Amendment right and the right to vote in elections. The stigma against convicted felons can mean the loss of employment and landlords may not rent you a place to live.
At Aaron Black Law my goal is to have the case dismissed and I have a record of staunchly fighting for clients.