Domestic violence is one of the most misunderstood aspects of Arizona criminal law. While domestic violence cases are, unfortunately, rather common throughout the state, many Arizonans are unclear about what domestic violence actually is and carry numerous misconceptions about it. In order to clear the air, we have dedicated this post to debunking some of the most prevalent myths about Arizona domestic violence by exploring the facts.
Myth: Only women can be victims of AZ domestic violence.
Fact: While many people believe that women are the sole victims of domestic violence, this is simply not the case. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have been subject to some form of physical violence by a partner. Schill Law Group has defended both men and women in Arizona domestic violence cases.
Myth: Domestic violence isn’t very common.
Fact: The NCADV states that domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime, and that, on average, domestic violence hotlines receive 21K calls per day. While that may seem like a lot, and any amount of domestic violence should be considered a cause for concern, its prevalence is often greatly exaggerated.
Myth: If my significant other chooses not to prosecute, the State won’t be able to charge me with a domestic violence crime.
Fact: In the state of Arizona, the decision regarding whether or not to arrest an individual and charge him or her with a domestic violence crime is solely up to the discretion of the police and prosecutors. The State will certainly consider the opinions and feelings of an alleged victim, but charges can still be filed, even when an alleged victim has requested that no one be charged.
Myth: If the alleged victim refuses to appear in court, the case will be dropped.
Fact: The State of Arizona is able to serve an alleged victim with a subpoena that orders them to appear in court – even if he or she does not want to offer testimony against you.
Myth: I can’t be prosecuted for domestic violence because I didn’t actually touch anyone.
Fact: Domestic violence is a term that can apply to a wide range of criminal activities. The basis for a domestic violence charge is the relationship between the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim. While accusations of violence, like assault, are frequently connected to domestic violence charges, other charges such as criminal trespassing or disorderly conduct could also result in a domestic violence charge, even if no physical contact occurred.
Myth: AZ Domestic violence charges are always classified as misdemeanor offenses.
Fact: In Arizona, felony offenses can frequently be charged as domestic violence offenses, like aggravated assault. In some cases, a defendant may be charged with a felony for a misdemeanor act in domestic violence cases. Known as Aggravated Domestic Violence, this charge may be issued if an individual has already been convicted of two previous domestic violence offenses within the past seven years.
Myth: Misdemeanor domestic violence charges carry the same penalty as all other misdemeanor offenses.
Fact: Even a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence will carry an additional penalty that is typically only applied to felony cases. After being convicted of a domestic violence offense that involves physical force (or the threat of physical force), or the use of a weapon, the convicted person will no longer be legally allowed to possess a firearm.