In Arizona, we recently learned of a tragic story.
Police officers answered a domestic dispute, and the suspect was fatally shot by police.
When the officer arrived on scene, he encountered a woman outside a home.
It was reported that the woman threatened to shoot herself and a friend who was still inside the home with another person.
The officer allegedly believed that the woman was aiming a handgun at him. As a result, he shot, and killed her.
This unfortunate ordeal ended horribly wrong. It was the very worst possible scenario for the suspect.
Other adverse consequences occur. These include the high risk of criminal charges being brought against those involved in the domestic dispute.
The four types of charges often coupled with domestic violence crimes are weapons misconduct, aggravated assault, disobeying police orders, and domestic violence charges.
In this article, we will discuss four types of criminal charges often associated with domestic disputes, that put a person at risk for harm or fatality, as well as risk factors, and criminal defense for the charges.
Any one or more of these criminal charges, in absence of injury can be life altering.
Convictions can jeopardize your freedom, leaving you with a long standing criminal record.
1) Aggravated Assault Charges
An aggravated assault is a felony in Arizona.
Misdemeanor assaults and aggravated assaults are differentiated in that they are either felonies or misdemeanors.
While both types of assault are serious, aggravated assault convictions carry very harsh punishments.
Like weapons misconduct, felony assaults charges can be brought in a number of situations. Any assault that involves the use of a deadly weapon may also be charged as aggravated assault.
A deadly weapon includes any object designed for lethal use, including unloaded firearms.
This does not include permanently inoperable firearms. The definition of firearms also does not include a toy weapon.
The prosecution will have to show that a deadly weapon was used to intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly cause a physical injury to somebody else; placed someone else in reasonable apprehension of being physically injured; or knowingly touch somebody else with the intent to injure, provoke, or insult that person.
Any misdemeanor assault against a peace officer who is engaged in performing official duties can also be charged as an aggravated assault.
When an aggravated assault is based on an assault on a peace officer engaged in his job, charges are brought as class 2 felonies. A presumptive term for a class 2 felony is five years, and an aggravated term is 12.5 years.
2) Weapons Misconduct
Weapons misconduct refers to criminal offenses that involve a deadly weapon.
Weapons crimes can be brought when a person knowingly carries a concealed deadly weapon other than a pocket knife, while committing a serious offense or felony.
They can also be brought when a person fails to respond correctly, as to whether or not they are carrying a concealed deadly weapon, upon inquiry by a police officer.
There are numerous ways weapons misconduct can result in a criminal record under Arizona Revised Statute section 13-3102.
In the former situation, weapons misconduct is charged as a class 6 felony.
While, these are not punished as harshly as other felonies in Arizona, they still call for prison time.
The presumptive term for a first-time offender’s conviction for a class 6 felony is one year, while an aggravated term is two years.
However, depending on the circumstances, it is sometimes possible to negotiate to get the felony turned into a class 1 misdemeanor with a lighter sentence.
Failing to answer a police officer accurately about a concealed deadly weapon is a class 1 misdemeanor.
The penalties are not as serious, but you can still end up with a criminal record that affects your ability to secure employment, professional licenses, and housing and it could affect the outcome of future criminal charges.
3) Domestic Violence Charges
In Arizona, according to statistics from the National Coalition for Domestic Violence (NCAVD), the presence of a gun, in the home, increases the chance of fatality by 500 percent. Domestic violence can be a felony or misdemeanor. This determination is made based on the actual crime that was committed.
Some examples include assault, sexual assault, criminal trespassing, violation of a restraining order, neglect, delinquency of a minor, stalking, harassment, incest, and other crimes against a child.
Whether or not the crime is one of domestic violence is determined by the nature of the crime and the relationship between the victim and the accused.
Relationships described in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3601 include, but are not limited to those between current or former spouses, parents, children, grandparents, siblings, those involved in a romantic relationship, co-habitants, those either related, or in a present or former relationship that do not live together.
In Arizona when charges are brought for a third domestic violence incident, within 7 years, the charges are raised to a felony. This is the case, even if the violation was a misdemeanor.
If a deadly weapon such as a gun is displayed in a domestic dispute, while a person under the age of 15 is present, the suspect will be arrested.
This is the case, whether or not the weapon was used.
It is also the case, whether or not the police officer actually witnessed the display of the weapon. In any event, probable cause would be needed in order to make a lawful arrest.
Under Arizona’s domestic violence law, the police officer’s discretion, they have may seize a firearm temporarily if they learn that one is on the premises, and feel it poses the threat of harm under the circumstances.
In some situations one or more parties will turn on police.
When police are not sure which person is the aggressor, they will often arrest both individuals involved in the dispute.
For the victim, this is adds insult to injury causing a person to become angry and combative towards police.
4) Failure to Obey Police Orders
Arizona Revised Statute section 28-622 prohibits someone from failing to comply with a police officer who has the authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic.
In the incident described above, the woman could have been charged with a failure to comply if the police officer had asked her to put the toy gun down, even though it was not a real firearm.
A failure to obey a police officer is a class 2 criminal misdemeanor.
A class 2 misdemeanor can be punished with a term of imprisonment for a maximum of four months.
High Risk Factors in Domestic Disputes
A recent report was issued by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which concluded that the deadliest police encounters involve domestic disputes.
Following a recent 5 years study, 684 officer deaths in the line of duty were analyzed. Of those, twenty percent of the officers died of rifle gunshot wounds.
Some of the reasons for this include an escalation of emotions, which is often accompanied by a decrease in logical thinking and reasoning, those involved.
Officers often find it necessary to arrest, or remove one or more of those involved from the home following a heated argument, for the safety of the occupants.
An order from police for one of the parties to leave their own home is often met with resentment and opposition. This alone, can be dangerous for both police and the suspect.
When alcohol and drug abuse is involved, judgment is impaired, which results in increased risk of harm or fatality.
According to statistics from the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, 72% of all murder-suicides in the United States involve intimate partners.
Further, statistics indicate that the existence of an accessible firearm, in the home increases the chance of fatality by 500 percent.
That risk increases to 2,000 percent if there has been a prior history of domestic violence among the individuals.
The officers are well aware of these dangers and exercise vigilance. They often call for back-up officers, for their own protection when called to a domestic dispute.
The police investigation into a domestic dispute begins before they even arrive on scene. When they receive a dispatch for a domestic violence call, one of the first things they do is a background check to see if police have been to the house in the past or if there are prior convictions.
When officers feel threatened, they generally will not take any chances.
Police officers are trained to use force if needed to defend themselves.
This can happen even if what they perceive as a threat, later ends up not being a real threat of harm to the officer.
Criminal Defense Attorney for Aggravated Assault, Weapons Misconduct, Failure to Obey Police Orders, Domestic Violence Charges in Phoenix AZ
If you simply plead guilty, without the guidance and retention of a qualified criminal defense attorney, you will be exposed to a swift conviction and harsh penalties.
It is important in all of these situations to retain experienced legal advocate who can fight for your rights, and provide a strong criminal defense.
No matter how serious your charges may be, you have the right to defend them.
In addition, to protecting your rights, and making sure you are treated fairly, an effective criminal defense attorney may be able to apply specific defenses in your case.
Depending on the circumstances, and strength of the evidence surrounding them, defense strategies can be mounted which can lead to a favorable outcome of your case.
Often, there are mitigating circumstances or facts that can be used to negotiate with the prosecution for a plea deal. In some cases, it may be possible to win at trial by establishing a reasonable doubt.
If your rights were violated or evidence was obtained unlawfully, it often can be suppressed to that it cannot be used to prosecute you.
James Novak, of the Law Office of James Novak, is an experienced criminal defense attorney, and former Maricopa County prosecutor.
Attorney, James defends charges of aggravated assault, failure to obey police orders, domestic violence, and weapons misconduct charges on a regular basis.
If you face active criminal charges in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert or Scottsdale Arizona, James Novak will can provide you with a free and confidential consultation regarding your matter.
If retained, he will tailor and provide a strong defense on your behalf and work to resolve your charges.
Call (480) 413-1499, or contact James Novak today to personally discuss your options for your defense.
- Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-3102 (misconduct involving weapons)
- Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-1204 (aggravated assault)
- Arizona Revised Statutes section 28-622 (failure to comply with a police officer)
- Arizona Revised Statutes section 13- 3601 (domestic violence)
- Phoenix Superior Court
- National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund | Police Deadly Encounters