Criminal Defense

Domestic Violence Attorney

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DV CASES

Our extremely dedicated and passionate team of domestic violence attorneys have had the opportunity and pleasure of being able to help hundreds of people charged with domestic violence and we comprehend that this type of criminal charge can destroy careers and even the lives of individuals. There are often times where the police will arrest an individual without a full comprehension of all the evidence. As a result of this action, people that are innocent sometimes face very serious criminal charges.

There are many charges that can be considered domestic violence crimes including assault, criminal damage, and crimes against children. What makes a domestic violence charge different from regular charges? Firstly, the police will look to see if the accuser and the accused have a romantic relationship, are related, or are living together.

Many individuals who are charged with domestic violence offenses do not necessarily understand why they were charged with these offenses or what the consequences can be for a crime such as this. Domestic violence is a type of crime that carries very serious allegations, because of the fact that conviction can result in significant penalties, including substantial jail time, counseling classes, and the loss of one’s right to bear arms. Furthermore, prosecutors often times seek greater jail sentences when there is an allegation of domestic violence.

One way to easily determine if you are being accused of a domestic violence offense is if you look on your ticket and see the letters “DV” or ARS 13-3601, if these letters are on there this means that you are likely facing a Domestic Violence Offense. A Domestic Violence offense is alleged not due to the severity of the crime, its based on whether or not the person charged has a relationship with the listed victim. A “Domestic Violence” designation can be applied to the following charges. Homicide, Assault, Kidnapping, Sexual Offenses, Criminal Trespass, Criminal Damage, Interference with Judicial Proceedings, and Disorderly Conduct. Keep in mind, however, that domestic violence does not require “violence” per se. For instance, you can be charged with domestic violence for disturbing the peace and quiet, trespassing or unauthorized telephonic or in person contact. The deciding factor in these type of cases is whether or not the “victim” has a relationship with the individual who is being accused.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENSES:

Domestic violence is a special category of crimes within Arizona’s criminal code, often referred to as an enhancement. Enhancements are not crimes when they are simply by themselves; rather, they are statutes that create additional penalties when their elements have been satisfied. Domestic violence, or DV offenses, require that a person have a special relationship with the victim of the crime.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

It means that, if someone commits a crime against a family member, that crime can be considered a domestic violence offense. Additionally, if the crime is a domestic violence offense, there may be additional jail or prison time, extra fines and fees, the loss of the right to bear arms, and the court might issue a no-contact or restraining order.

Crimes like assault, criminal damage, endangerment, and criminal trespass can all be assigned a domestic violence enhancement.

A.R.S. § 13-3601 is the statute that defines domestic violence:

  1. “Domestic violence” means any act that is a dangerous crime against children as defined in section 13-705 or an offense prescribed in section
  2. The relationship between the victim and the defendant is one of marriage or former marriage or of persons residing or having resided in the same household.
  3. The victim and the defendant have a child in common.
  4. The victim or the defendant is pregnant by the other party.
  5. The victim is related to the defendant or the defendant’s spouse by blood or court order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law or sister-in-law.
  6. The victim is a child who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who resides or who has resided in the same household as the defendant.
  7. The relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously a romantic or sexual relationship. The following factors may be considered in determining whether the relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously a romantic or sexual relationship:

(a) The type of relationship.
(b) The length of the relationship.
(c) The frequency of the interaction between the victim and the defendant.
(d) If the relationship has terminated, the length of time since the termination.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PENALTIES:

Because of the fact that domestic violence offenses are not crimes in and of themselves, the penalties vary quite a bit based on the underlying crime in question. For example, if a person commits a misdemeanor assault against their spouse, he could be charged with DV-Assault.

COMMON PENALTIES FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INCLUDE:

  1. Additional jail or prison time
  2. Restraining orders
  3. Additional fines and fees
  4. Surrender of firearms
  5. Loss of right to bear arms

HOW MUCH JAIL TIME CAN YOU GET FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN ARIZONA?

Whenever there is a domestic violence issue at stake, one of the most frequent questions that we are asked is, “How much jail time am I looking at?”. For whatever reason, many people come to us with the idea that they are legitimately facing the maximum sentence for their charges. Lawyers can have a tendency to freak people out. This is especially the case when a person is facing the criminal justice system for the first time.

Here’s the straight story. Domestic Violence charges in Arizona are typically, and usually filed as class 1 misdemeanors. Most individuals who are charged with first offense misdemeanors do not face significant jail time. For example, anyone charged with a class 1 misdemeanor technically is facing up to six months in jail. A reasonable person could meet with an attorney and walk away from that consultation thinking that six months is a realistic sentence for a domestic violence offense.

The reality of the situation, however, is that counseling and non-jail programs are available for many first time offenders. Individuals who are facing significant jail time either have prior convictions or they are accused of causing serious injury or were charged with the use of a dangerous weapon in Arizona. So given this, if you are going to court for the first time ever and there are no other factors that make your case more serious (use of gun, knife or allegation of broken bones/choking/etc) then these classes may likely be available to you.

Of course, as a domestic violence attorney in Phoenix, we have to inform you and caution you that every case is different and depends on the circumstances and the facts of the case. We inform our clients that 10 identical cases in 10 different courtrooms would result in 10 different outcomes. The most significant key to surviving and pushing through a domestic violence charge is to not panic. If you are hearing from an attorney that you should hire them because you are facing six months in jail, take a deep breath. Ask the following question. “How many people have you ever seen sentenced to six months for my charges?” The answer will probably be “zero”.

One advantage that our team here at Alcock possesses is that our team consists of former prosecutors, a former police officer and a former administrative law judge. Throughout the years here at Alcock & Associates, we have seen thousands of domestic violence offenses and we will always tell our clients the unvarnished truth about their situation. If you are facing domestic violence charges and have a court date, come on in and we will give you detailed ideas on how to survive and potentially win your domestic violence case in Arizona.

WE KNOW HOW TO WIN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES

Here at Alcock & Associates our team of lawyers understand that there are many innocent people are charged with domestic violence when in fact they did nothing wrong. There are often times where the police arrive at the scene of a disturbance call and they arrest first and ask questions later. It is quite obvious that there is a preference to arrest men over women. Also police oftentimes will make an arrest based solely on the testimony of one witness as opposed to hearing both sides.

The ultimate goal of our law firm is to win your case. If you are charged with a domestic violence offense, contact us and let us help you today. Give us a call and allow us to work to develop constructive strategies to give you your life back.

Domestic Violence

In Arizona Domestic Violence (DV) offenses are penalized strictly. In order to be charged with a domestic violence offense the State must first establish an underlying offense that involves a person as a victim of the offense and that has a domestic relationship with the suspect.

In Arizona, a domestic relationship is broadly defined. Such a relationship may include:

  1. any biological parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, or sibling;
  2. any of the above family members established through a marriage of another
  3. any spouse or former spouse
  4. any romantic or sexual relationship that occurred in the present or past
  5. any person impregnated from the suspect
  6. any person with a child in common to the suspect
  7. anyone that the suspect have ever lived with, anyone that the suspect has ever had a romantic relationship with, and

The underlying offenses in Arizona that can be made with a domestic violence allegation include:

  1. Criminal Damage
  2. Disorderly Conduct
  3. Assault
  4. Aggravated Assault
  5. Interfering with Judicial Proceedings
  6. Harassment
  7. Stalking
  8. Preventing the Use of a Telephone During Emergency
  9. Manslaughter
  10. Negligent Homicide
  11. Murder
  12. Endangerment
  13. Threatening and Intimidating
  14. Custodial Interference
  15. Unlawful Imprisonment
  16. Kidnapping
  17. Sexual Assault
  18. Unlawful Disclosure of Nude Images
  19. Criminal Trespass

If a domestic violation is proven with an underlying offense conviction there are mandatory minimum additional penalties. In order to prove a domestic violence allegation ordinarily the person designated as the domestic violence victim would need to provide testimony in court to prove the allegation via first hand knowledge. Other ways, however, can be attempted by the State to prove a domestic violence allegation but a skilled defense attorney can object to hearsay or other inadmissible evidence if such an objection applies under the circumstances. It is common in certain domestic violence cases that persons identified by the State as a victim will not want to prosecute their loved one. A challenge could be presented to the State when this occurs if their key witness is adverse to their position.

It is quite common in Arizona to be charged with a domestic violence offense. In some cases simple arguments that escalated into yelling may lead to criminal DV charges. In many cases neither the suspect nor the victim desire prosecution even when cases are reported. However, once the State is called to investigate a family fight there is a high likelihood that they may either arrest or file charges on an involved person.

Child Abuse

Here at Alcock and Associates we help parents and caregivers who have been accused by the State of injuring a child in their care. We understand that life is unpredictable, and accident happened. We also understand that parents and caregivers’ rights are important and must be defended. If you have been accused of child abuse is important that you have an experienced advocate on your side will fight for your rights.

Arizona person can be accused of Child Abuse under the following circumstances:

A. Under circumstances likely to produce death or serious physical injury, any person who causes a child or vulnerable adult to suffer physical injury or, having the care or custody of a child or vulnerable adult, who causes or permits the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult to be injured or who causes or permits a child or vulnerable adult to be placed in a situation where the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult is endangered is guilty of an offense as follows:

  1. If done intentionally or knowingly, the offense is a class 2 felony and if the victim is under fifteen years of age it is punishable pursuant to section 13-705.
  2. If done recklessly, the offense is a class 3 felony.
  3. If done with criminal negligence, the offense is a class 4 felony.

B. Under circumstances other than those likely to produce death or serious physical injury to a child or vulnerable adult, any person who causes a child or vulnerable adult to suffer physical injury or abuse or, having the care or custody of a child or vulnerable adult, who causes or permits the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult to be injured or who causes or permits a child or vulnerable adult to be placed in a situation where the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult is endangered is guilty of an offense as follows:

  1. If done intentionally or knowingly, the offense is a class 4 felony.
  2. If done recklessly, the offense is a class 5 felony.
  3. If done with criminal negligence, the offense is a class 6 felony

The classic scenario in which a parent or caregiver is charged with child abuse, is as follows. A busy parent with three young children is driving to the supermarket. The baby falls asleep in the car seat and the two and five and six-year-old children are crying and fighting the parent’s attention. The mother or father gets out of the vehicle take care of the demanding children and forgets the baby is asleep in the car seat. They walk into the store and within five minutes realize they left the baby in the vehicle. During that time a bystander has called police who arrived on scene just as the parent is returning to check on the baby. The baby is unharmed and removed from the vehicle, but the parent is placed under arrest and charged with child abuse.

Another typical scenario involves discipline of children. A parent or caregiver decides to administer discipline to a child in their care. This discipline sometimes is spanking or other corporal punishment. The questions arises may a parent legally spank a child in Arizona? The answer is yes, under Arizona law ARS 13-403,  “ a parent or guardian and a teacher or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a minor or incompetent person may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor or incompetent person when and to the extent reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline.” Many times, well-meaning teachers or school administrators and daycare providers mistake lawful discipline by parents as child abuse. They then call the police and felony child abuse charges are filed.

A third and very common scenario arises during divorce proceedings. Both parents are fighting for custody of a young child. One of the parents calls DCS formally known as CPS and make an accusation that the other parent is physically abusing their common child. Although he accused parent denies the accusations charges are then filed against the parent.

If you find yourself in this circumstance you need an aggressive experienced criminal law attorney who will fight for your rights. We here at Alcock and Associates will fight for your rights as a parent and caregiver. We will defend you against accusations made by the state. It is important to have an attorney who not only understands how the legal system works but also how the family dynamic functions. Many of our attorneys are parents themselves and are passionate not only about children but about parents and that their rights are protected. We will fight for you and we will fight for your family.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Domestic Violence Cases

  • What does a prosecutor think about when they assess a case and offer a plea agreement?

    Luckily our team of attorneys includes former prosecutors. We understand cases from the prosecution perspective. We understand how prosecution offices operate because we were once there. We understand what prosecutors think about when assessing a criminal case. Generally, plea agreements are initially based on the type and severity of the alleged offense. A plea agreement may also be dependent on the named victim’s input. In domestic violence cases, the prosecution will look at whether or not they can prove their case with or without the presence of certain evidence or witnesses. In cases where the prosecution has admissions from a suspect the plea offer may be harsher because their case may be easier to attempt to prove. As cases go on defense attorneys work to identify potential pre-trial and trial defenses. These defenses are often used to negotiate better plea agreements or even pre-trial dismissals. Some identified defenses may be saved for trial if the case is set to trial. Litigating cases effectively is an art and a skill that involves knowing when to act and when not to act. Plea offers may be negotiated and/or extended during the pre-trial or even trial stage. Every plea or resolution is entirely case specific and dependent on individual case facts and defenses.

  • How much time in jail can I get for Domestic Violence?

    This will greatly depend on the underlying offense. If a misdemeanor charge or charges are pursued there may not be a mandatory minimum jail term. Often prosecutors will seek deferred jail dependent on the suspect completing a domestic violence counseling program. Prosecutors may also seek initial jail time in misdemeanor domestic violence cases. If the underlying offense is a felony offense in some cases there will be mandatory minimum prison terms. These vary widely dependent on the charge. For example if the suspect is charged with Aggravated Assault (as a dangerous offense) the presumptive sentence would be 7.5 years in prison. On the other hand, if the suspect is charged with a felony that is probation eligible they may only face a short initial jail term or no jail at all.

  • Will I lose my right to bear arms?

    Domestic violence convictions can result in serious penalties including the loss of one’s right to bear arms. Arizona state law and Federal law each have their own set of rules to prohibit certain domestic violence offenders from bearing arms. Federal law prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by after certain findings are made in some domestic violence offenses. Arizona further prohibits possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a domestic violence offense while the person is serving a term of probation for that conviction. At times, there may be avenues that can be taken to prevent the loss of this right or to restore this right after it was taken away.

  • Is there a way to “set aside” a DV conviction?

    Yes, in Arizona a set aside for a conviction may be sought in certain cases. See our section on set asides for more detailed information. For instance, if a Defendant was convicted of criminal damage, as a domestic violence misdemeanor offense, once they complete their court-ordered requirements they may seek a set aside and the judge may grant this motion at his or her discretion.

  • What will happen on the first court appearance for a DV case?

    In most court the first hearing will consist of either an initial appearance after an arrest or an arraignment. At an initial appearance a judge will inform the Defendant of the charges against them and determine a bond amount or whether other release is appropriate. At the arraignment hearing the judge will advise of the charges and release conditions, if any are being imposed. A court may consider release conditions at this hearing in limited circumstances. A Defendant may choose to plead guilty to the charges or enter a plea of not guilty. Court dates will be determined and the Defendant will be advised of what could occur if they fail to appear.

  • How long is a DV trial and how does it work?

    This varies widely and depends completely on the type and circumstances of the case. Some trials can last a year or more while others may last only for an hour. The trial will begin with opening statements usually from both sides. The State will present their case first through their witnesses and exhibits. After presentation, the State will rest. Next defense will argue for a directed verdict for dismissal as the State is required to present substantial evidence of each element of the crime they seek to prove. If the argument for directed verdict is not submitted the defense will usually present their case. After the defense, the State can present any rebuttal evidence. Once all sides rest the parties may each submit closing arguments.

    Some offenses have the right to a jury trial and some will be presented before a judge. If a jury trial is conducted a jury will make the decision as to whether the Defendant has been proven guilty or not guilty. A judge will determine sentencing if a Defendant is convicted. Conversely, in a bench trial one judge will decide guilt and sentencing if applicable.

  • How long can my probation be and what are the terms of DV probation?

    This various widely and depends completely on the type and circumstances of the case. In most misdemeanor DV convictions probation may last as little as six (6) months to as much three (3) years probation. If the conviction is a felony a term of probation can include up to lifetime on certain higher class felonies. Generally, probation terms on any misdemeanor or felony matter will involve a mandatory term to complete a domestic violence program which is usually a 26 week program. It is important to strive to resolve a case without a DV allegation if possible.

  • I’ve heard that you can get deferred prosecution. What is that and how does it work?

    In some domestic violence cases a deal can be negotiated with a prosecutor for deferred prosecution. This can be an advantageous deal in certain cases. Generally, under a deferred prosecution deal the Defendant will be required to complete certain conditions and stay law abiding for a chosen period. If all conditions are satisfied then the case can be dismissed. A skilled defense attorney can analyze if this would be a beneficial deal on a case by case analysis as well as will determine the best avenue to secure such an agreement.

  • What should I have done when I got arrested? I spoke with the police, was that the right thing to do?

    Other than providing your name and date of birth it is not advised to speak with law enforcement without the presence of an attorney. Please refrain speaking to law enforcement until you are represented by counsel. If you have already made statements to police and are concerned it is vital to have an attorney review your case. There are many factual circumstances in which defense can argue to preclude Defendant statements based on legal authority. For instance, if you had been arrested but were not given certain advisement’s prior to questioning your answers may be subject to preclusion.

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Here at Alcock and Associates our team and staff are dedicated to helping and representing YOU. The first step is to understand your case. We will take the time to get to know you and your legal situation so that we are best able to answer all of your questions. After your initial consultation with our attorneys, you will know what you are facing and what can happen to your case.
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Alcock & Associates P.C.
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