Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

A common theme in Arizona domestic violence prosecutions involves the changing stories and testimonies of alleged domestic violence victims as a case progresses toward prosecution and conviction. Often, complaining victims may exaggerate or fabricate evidence of domestic violence in response to a domestic altercation, or to offset allegations of violence against themselves when law enforcement is called to the scene of a domestic dispute. Although domestic violence is never an acceptable response to a relationship or familial dispute, unfounded allegations of domestic violence sometimes result in severe, life-altering consequences to the alleged perpetrator, and sometimes also the alleged victim as well. The Arizona Court of Appeals recently affirmed a defendant’s aggravated assault conviction for a domestic violence crime, despite the victim’s attempt to recant her initial complaint to the police from the day of the alleged incident.

The defendant in the recently decided appeal was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after he allegedly strangled and assaulted the mother of his children during an argument between the parties. Although the visual evidence of strangulation was limited, the police and prosecutors were inclined to prosecute the charges based on the victim’s initial reporting to the police. As the case approached trial, however, the victim’s story changed, and she testified at trial that she was, in fact, not strangled by the defendant, insinuating that her initial report to the police was an emotional response to a personal argument between the parties. The victim’s trial testimony was not persuasive to the jury in their case, and the defendant was convicted of the charges. The defendant was then sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the statements made by the victim to the investigator should not have been admitted at trial, as they were hearsay. Furthermore, the defendant argued that the evidence at trial was not sufficient to support his conviction. The appellate court rejected the defendant’s arguments, finding that the victim’s statements were admissible at trial specifically because they were inconsistent with her testimony at trial. Additionally, the appellate court gave great deference to the trial judge’s determination that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction. As a result of the appellate rulings, the defendant will be required to serve his prison sentence.

Arizona Supreme Court Limits Admissibility of “Cold” Expert Testimony

If you were arrested for domestic violence or assault, the prosecution may attempt to use profiling evidence or “cold” expert witness testimony against you.

Profiling evidence  and “cold” expert witness testimony is not always admissible.  The decision about admissibility is a decision for the court.  When making this determination the court will consider the rules of criminal evidence, content, relevance and objectivity of the testimony.

If improper witness testimony is admitted, it can potentially lead to an unfair guilty verdict. Therefore,  proper challenges should be made as to the admissibility of planned expert witness testimony.

Aggravated Assault, Weapons Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Failure to Obey Police Orders: Laws, Penalties, and Criminal Defense in Arizona

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.

Domestic Violence Charges

The police and prosecution take domestic violence very serious. They egregiously pursue convictions in these cases because they are considered to be a crime against a victim.
Domestic violence refers to a familial relationship. The victim may be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, grandparent, child, or other persons residing together.

Police have the burden on the scene to distinguish the aggressor from the victim. Often the victim is cited or arrested when the police are unable to identify which party was the aggressor at the scene. It can also occur when false accusations are made against a victim by the aggressor.

Police Departments keep logs of incidents where the police have been called to a residence before. In many of these cases, an arrest will be made, or both parties will be cited, or arrested and forced to defend their charge in court.

Arizona Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic Violence (DV) crimes are described under Arizona Law ARS § 13-3601. This law applies to specified domestic persons who become victims of assault, homicide, threat, intimidation, neglect, abuse or other act of violence.

Offenses may be classified as felonies or misdemeanors, and penalties vary depend on circumstances involved. They include: aggravated or mitigated factors; age of the victim; nature and severity of injuries; if a weapon was used; and whether or not the crime was dangerous or non-dangerous; and if the crime was a first time or repeat offense.

Penalties for Non-Dangerous Domestic Violence Offenses
Non-dangerous Misdemeanor DV charges call for minimums of 30 days to 6 months in jail; and fines from $500.00 to $2500.00.

Non-dangerous Felony DV charges call for 6 months to 18 months in prison, minimums; and 4 to 10 years maximum ranges.

Persons convicted of non-dangerous domestic violence offenses may be ordered to participate in domestic violence offender or anger management counseling programs.

Penalties for Dangerous Domestic Violence Offenses

Dangerous Felony first time offenses expose a person to a minimum of 18 months to 3 years in prison; and maximum penalties of 7 years to 21 years on prison.
Felony domestic violence offenders will be exposed to court ordered fines that can reach a maximum of $150,000, plus restitution.

Persons convicted of domestic violence offenses will be ordered to participate in domestic violence offender or anger management counseling programs. Additional Court ordered penalties may apply such as community service, or probation.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Domestic Violence Crimes Mesa, AZ

If you have been charged with any domestic violence offenses you should consult a criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty. There may be defenses that can be used to challenge the charges, lead to suppression of evidence, or even a dismissal of charges. It is never a good idea to go to court without qualified legal representation for any criminal offense. If retained, an attorney will protect your rights, defend your charges. If the case can’t be dismissed, they will work to mitigate sentencing to help you avoid or reduce harsh jail or prison sentencing.

Additional Resources:

Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence .

City of Mesa Police – Family Violence Unit can also provide assistance

Arizona Court – Domestic Violence Information and Resources

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