Arizona Domestic Violence Laws

arizona domestic violence lawsWhile domestic violence is in the criminal code and is not sent to family court, domestic violence plays a critical role in family law. This blogpost will discuss the implications of a domestic violence in family law.

Domestic violence is incredibly prevalent in America and Arizona is no different. Arizona Department of Health Services states that one in every four women will experience domestic violence. Every 44 minutes in Arizona, one or more children witness domestic violence.

This statistic is even more disheartening.  Children who witness violence in the home is the biggest risk factor in transmitting that violent behavior to the future generation.

In Arizona, 30 crimes when combined with family or romantic or sexual relationship equal domestic violence. These crimes include assault and aggravated assault, harassment and aggravated harassment, criminal trespass, criminal damage, stalking, threats and intimidation, sexual assault, telephone harassment, manslaughter, and homicide.

For those experiencing domestic violence, one of the biggest tools for protection is called an “order of protection.” This is a court order that can be issued when there is a family relationship or a romantic or sexual relationship between the “plaintiff” and the “defendant.”  The “plaintiff”, the alleged victim, must file a petition describing an act of domestic violence that was threatened by the defendant in the past year. The plaintiff then must appear before the judge to explain why an order is needed.  If the judge determines that the defendant may commit or has committed an act of domestic violence, the judge can issue an order of protection.

This order can order the defendant not to commit acts of domestic violence.  It can give the plaintiff the exclusive use of a house that both persons previously shared.  It can prevent the defendant from coming near the plaintiff’s home, apartment, school, or employment. The order may prevent the defendant from possessing guns and other life that the judge finds necessary.

The order must be personally served on the defendant by the police.  The defendant, once served, has a right to a hearing.  The judge may order the defendant to obtain counseling.

Protective order information for Arizona can be found here.  The website provides guides for both plaintiffs and defendants.

Consequences for a crime of domestic violence are significant.  For misdemeanor offenses, the punishment will vary based on what the underlying offense is. All convictions of any misdemeanor violence requires state mandated counseling.  At a minimum, a person convicted must complete 26 sessions of domestic violence. Jail time is likely, with the length of jail time dependent on the underlying crime.

Those convicted will likely have supervised or unsupervised probation after being released. Community service may be ordered as well as anger management counseling in addition to the mandated domestic violence counseling.

A conviction of domestic violence will affect child custody.  This conviction must be reported to the Family law count in Arizona. When a family court is determining custody, the court will determine custody based on the best interests of the child.  There are eleven factors in Arizona to determine best interests. Two involved domestic violence: whether there has been domestic violence or child abuse and whether either parent was convicted of falsely reporting child abuse or neglect.

Any evidence of domestic violence by a parent is contrary to the best interests of a child.  If a person with a conviction is fighting for custody, it is likely that that parent would not get sole custody or able to make legal decisions. Safety of the children is the priority of the court.

If you believe you are in danger or a victim of domestic violence, call your local 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233.

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