If you are charged with domestic violence, it could become a felony. However, certain factors can aggravate domestic violence charges, which is why it’s important to understand what you may face if you are convicted.
Domestic violence charges in Arizona could be a misdemeanor or a felony. Read on to find out what factors increase the severity of the punishments.
What to Know About Domestic Violence in Arizona
For the majority of cases, domestic violence will be charged as a misdemeanor, though it depends on the severity of the underlying crime and other factors. If you are charged with three misdemeanors involving violence within seven years, the charges will be more severe, leading to a felony charge.
Charges will depend on the circumstances and what the prosecution can prove. The injuries sustained by the alleged victim will also be factored into the judgement.
Domestic violence can be charged as a felony even as a first offense. This is usually the case for anyone found guilty of causing bodily harm or sexual assault on a minor. No matter the age of the victim, when serious bodily injury is inflicted, it will result in a felony charge. You will likely face felony charges for domestic violence if you have prior convictions for other unrelated crimes. Felony convictions will result in heftier penalties such as longer prison times and probation, plus more hours of community service and higher fines.
Felony Domestic Violence Defined
Most people picture domestic violence as a physical action. While it does include physical acts, it can also include emotional, sexual, or neglectful abuse. Inflicting financial or economic control is also domestic violence.
It is deemed domestic violence in Arizona if you abuse a spouse, romantic partner, roommate, spouse, in-law, sibling, child, ex-romantic partner, or the parent of your child. Crimes that are associated with domestic violence include assault and battery with or without a dangerous weapon, violation of a protective order, kidnapping, sexual assault, stalking, and criminal neglect, to name a few.
The Maximum Sentence for a Domestic Violence Conviction
Determining the sentence for a domestic violence charge will depend on a few factors, including if the charge is a felony or misdemeanor. When domestic violence involves a weapon, it generally increases the sentence.
If you receive a felony domestic violence charge, you should expect that, if convicted, you will serve at least one year in prison, but in most cases, a felony charge is five years. Fines are usually up to $10,000 for those convicted of a felony. You may also receive consecutive prison sentences if the victim suffered severe injuries.
What Your Next Steps Should Be If You’re Charged with Felony Domestic Violence
When you are accused of domestic violence, the victim does not have the power to drop the charges. Only the district attorney can dismiss the charges. However, it is more likely they will carry on with the other evidence against you.
Even though it is ultimately the decision of the prosecution, with attorneys for domestic violence representing you, you may be able to get the case dropped or have your charges reduced. While you will be offered the chance to have an attorney appointed for you by the courts at no cost, you should understand that public defenders are often overloaded with cases. The one assigned to you may not have experience defending against felony domestic violence charges. Instead, make sure you find an experienced domestic violence attorney to fight for your rights.