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Criminal Law Blog

Separating Myths from Facts on Domestic Violence

July 27, 2018

Domestic violence is treated very seriously in the law enforcement community and court systems. Anyone accused or arrested on suspicion of a domestic violence-related charge needs the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. In Arizona, a conviction can lead to jail time.

Myth: Domestic violence always involves physical contact.

It may surprise you to learn that a person can be charged with domestic violence even if he or she never laid a hand on another person. As a hypothetical example, let’s say that John and Jane are involved in a verbal argument. The yelling becomes loud enough for the neighbors to hear, and the neighbors call the police to report a domestic disturbance. When the police arrive, they do not see any injuries, but John has thrown a plate to the floor to express his anger, and so he is arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct domestic violence charges. John will need a criminal defense attorney, even though he never struck Jane.

Myth: Domestic violence incidents are always between partners or spouses.

It’s true that many of them are, but Arizona law defines domestic violence as any form of criminal abuse that is committed by one household or family member against another household or family member. This means that a roommate could be charged with domestic violence, even if there is no intimate relationship between the roommates.

Myth: An alleged victim can choose to have the charges dropped.

This is one of the most enduring myths about domestic violence cases. The alleged victim may choose to be uncooperative with the investigation and the prosecution. However, he or she does not have the authority to get the charges dropped. Only the prosecutor can decide to dismiss the charges, and the judge must approve the dismissal of the case. Even if the alleged victim refuses to give testimony, the prosecutor can move forward with the case.


Janet Altschuler, attorney at law, provides in-jail and in-custody appointments to defendants charged with domestic violence-related offenses. You can get in touch with her office in Tucson 24/7, seven days per week at (520) 247-1789.

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