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.
About Domestic Violence Law
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.
Domestic Violence Relationships
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:
- The accused and the accuser are married, were formerly married, or reside in the same household.
- The accused and the accuser have had a child together.
- The accused or the accuser is pregnant by the other party.
- The accuser is related to the accused, or to the accused’s spouse, by blood or court order, and may be a parent, child, grandchild, grandparent, brother, sister, stepparent, stepchild, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, or other.
- The accuser is a child who lives or has lived in the same home as the accused and is related to him or her, or to a person who lives with him or her.
- The accused and the accuser are or have been in a romantic or sexual relationship. Here, Arizona law considers factors such as type and length of relationship as well as frequency of interaction.
Order of Protection
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:
- Prohibition of the accused from committing a violation against the accuser.
- Barring of the accused from contacting the accuser or going anywhere near the accuser’s home, school, place of employment, or other specified location.
- Protection offered to the accuser.
Violation of Order of Protection
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 Law Offices of Scott David Stewart today.