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Disorderly Conduct Domestic Violence

Did you know that you can be charged with domestic violence even if you do not physically assault your spouse? It’s true. Let’s say you lose your temper and yell at your wife in the heat of an argument, and the neighbors subsequently call the police. Although you didn’t hit your wife, you may very well be charged with domestic violence disorderly conduct and face going to jail. Although it seems strange, it happens more often than you may think: and the bottom line is that you can be charged with domestic violence offenses even if there is no one saying you hit or hurt someone.

The domestic violence or DV aspect of this charge comes about because the accused and the victim have a family or intimate partner relationship, however it takes a little more than the neighbor simply calling the police on you to be charged with domestic violence. If a neighbor calls the police because of an argument you are having, the usual charge you would receive for bothering them is a disorderly conduct charge. However, the cops likely interviewed the wife in the above scenario and she complained in some fashion to get the resulting domestic violence half added to the disorderly conduct charge.

Arizona statute 13-2904 defines “disorderly conduct” in this way:

​If a person, with intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family or person, or with knowledge of doing so, such person:

1) engages in fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior, or

2) makes unreasonable noise, or

3) uses of abuse or offensive language or gestures to any person present in a manner likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation by such person, or

4) makes any protracted commotion, utterance or display with the intent to prevent the transaction of  the business of a lawful meeting, gathering, or procession; or

5) refuses to obey a lawful order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, a hazard or any other emergency, or

6) recklessly handles, displays or discharges a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

What does this really mean?

Most domestic violence charges for disorderly conduct or DOC are charged as subsection 1) fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior. It’s important to consider the following question: “what is considered fighting: violence or seriously disruptive behavior?” It depends on the judge’s interpretation of the facts alleged and how your lawyer frames the situation. Another question I would ask is “Did the wife yell back?” If the answer is yes, she’s helping to create the disorderly atmosphere.

You might not know that you have the right to have the subsection of the law you allegedly violated named outright so you know which part of this law is being alleged against you. All too often, the prosecutors and police don’t define the charge. This hurts a criminal defendant because the prosecutor can pick and choose which subsection best fits the facts. The State should be “locked in” to which section they think has been violated long before a trial: and it is the job of your attorney to make that happens.

Every day, couples fight, families argue, and brother and sisters squabble and yell. This is fact of life and not a crime. There are many arguments to present to a judge based upon the specific facts of a case to demonstrate DOC did not occur, and as a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney, I know what they are and how to present them to give you the highest probability of beating the charge.

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