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Criminal Law Blog

Answering Common Questions About Domestic Violence Cases

October 8, 2021

Domestic violence charges are among the most serious charges you can face in Tucson. Once you are charged with a domestic violence-related crime, then the case can quickly take on a life of its own. In addition, there are fewer avenues for dismissing or reducing charges than there are in other kinds of cases. It is essential that you contact a criminal defense attorney urgently if you are arrested for domestic violence, even if the charge is a misdemeanor. If you’re facing domestic violence charges, there is a good chance that you have a lot of questions. Here are the answers to some of the ones our criminal defense practice hears most often. 

What does my domestic violence charge mean?

Domestic violence is a designation with a criminal charge that tells the court system that the alleged victim and accused in a case have a relationship. Most people think of incidents between romantic partners when they think of domestic violence. While those cases are extremely common, you can be charged with domestic violence after an incident with any relative, including your children, siblings, parents, or cousins. You can also be charged with domestic violence if you previously had an intimate relationship with the alleged victim. A domestic violence tag typically increases the potential penalties for a conviction. If the same incident that sparked your domestic violence charge happened with a stranger instead of a partner or relative, the charges would often be less serious. 

I didn’t have a physical altercation. Why am I charged with domestic violence?

Under Arizona law, verbal altercations can be considered domestic violence. A verbal altercation that involved threats, intimidation, or disturbing the peace can all be charged as domestic violence crimes. Although charges involving physical violence are typically more serious, it is possible to be convicted of a domestic violence crime and experience all the related consequences even if the incident only involved a verbal altercation. 

What should I do if I am arrested for domestic violence?

Politely decline to answer any questions until you speak to an attorney. Law enforcement officers may try to get you to think they can help your case but speaking with police without an attorney present is only likely to hurt your case later. 

Call an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as you are given an opportunity to do so. If you are charged, you will make an initial appearance before a judge, who will determine if you should remain incarcerated until your trial or what your release conditions will be. Having an attorney with you to protect your rights and argue for leniency in your release conditions is critical. If you are released and have restrictions on your behavior, such as a restriction preventing you from contacting the alleged victim, follow them carefully, or you could be re-arrested and put in jail until your trial. 

What are some possible penalties for domestic violence convictions?

Penalties for domestic violence convictions vary widely, depending on the nature of the charges. Some people can take part in diversion programs that involve court-mandated counseling in exchange for charges being dismissed when the requirements are completed. Other kinds of charges carry mandatory minimum sentences, including fines and jail time. Having a criminal defense attorney at your side is the best way to minimize the fallout of a conviction. After a conviction, you likely will be unable to carry a firearm, and if you are in the military or a police officer, you may lose your job as well as your pension. Other ongoing cases, such as child custody cases, may also be impacted by a domestic violence conviction. 

Will anyone know I have been charged with domestic violence?

Criminal charges are public record, but domestic violence charges may be revealed more often than other kinds of charges. If your job requires you to have an Arizona fingerprint clearance card, such as jobs in healthcare, schools, or real estate, simply being charged with domestic violence will trigger the suspension of your clearance. Domestic violence charges can also trigger deportation. 

Though victims of domestic violence deserve protection, the law casts a very wide net, and innocent people get caught in it every day. Never take a domestic violence accusation lightly—these charges are always serious, and you always need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. Janet Altschuler has seen domestic violence cases from both sides of the aisle, and she has the experience you need on your side to fight for your rights. If you’re facing domestic violence charges in Tucson, call our law office immediately at 520-247-1789 for assistance.

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