A criminal charge of domestic violence comes with heavy stigma and potentially severe legal consequences, whether or not the incident was a small misunderstanding. If the accuser is someone close to you, the situation is further complicated. If you’ve been wrongly accused of domestic violence, you’ll need an Arizona criminal lawyer by your side.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was written into law in 1994 to help combat family violence. As a result, serious penalties are now in place in Arizona for stalking and domestic abuse across state lines. In addition, VAWA made preexisting penalties for repeat offenders stronger than before.
Domestic violence laws have been in place in Arizona since 1980. The phrase “domestic violence” refers to any of almost 25 different types of crimes – not including aggravated domestic violence, which is a separate crime. The range of crimes covered by this law includes intimidation, endangerment, sexual assault, harassment, child abuse, vulnerable adult abuse, and others.
According to A.R.S. 13-3601, the presence of domestic violence depends upon the type of relationship between the accused and the accuser. For example:
When an Arizona law enforcement officer responds to an alleged incident of domestic violence, he or she is required to inform each party about order of protection (OOP) procedures. According to A.R.S. 13-3602, the accuser in a domestic violence case may file a written and verified petition for an OOP, also called a restraining order. An Arizona court may issue an OOP if the court believes the accused may commit an act of domestic violence or has committed such an act within the past year.
An OOP may include any of the following:
An OOP is an official court order, and violation may result in arrest and prosecution. The crime, then, becomes more complex than a domestic violence accusation and turns into a criminal case in which the defendant is accused of interfering with judicial proceedings.
Conviction of domestic violence or order of protection comes with serious consequences. According to the Arizona Coalition to End Domestic Violence, one in seven men experience unwanted sexual contact, while one in three women experience the same. In Arizona alone, one or more children are witness to a domestic violence incident every 45 minutes or less.
Domestic violence is a serious crime, but false accusations do happen. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence or violation of OOP, contact the Stewart Law Group today.